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Balance: Saying No When Needed, Even to the Good

September 1, 2010

One of the hardest goals I have to manage in life is that of achieving balance. I always seem to be stuck between not doing enough or doing too much, and at those rare moments when I seem to have found that sweet spot it is a fleeting moment that fades quickly away.

We fill our lives with many things….

…. some good …. some bad ….
some falling in
between.

In the best moments, even the bad can be good (or at least okay).

In the worst moments, even the good can seem like a load, a chore, or can cause trouble.

If we had a choice, I think most of us would choose those things that feed our souls, warm our hearts, and make life enjoyable (understanding that enjoyable does not always mean easy or comfortable).

The reality is, we can’t do it all. We have to say yes to some things and no to others. We have to make choices, and sometimes those choices lead us down paths we may not realize. For example, I read a blog about poverty, injustice, orphans and human trafficking from someone who works on the front lines rather than reading these stories in the news. Honestly, they are harder hitting, more impactful, and cause my heart to hurt more, but they also inspire me to action while the news stories often depress me.

Over the last couple years I had slowed down my life. It wasn’t really a choice I made, but something that circumstances dictated. Either way, life has been slower paced, and there were things I enjoyed immensely about that. Over the last few months my life, schedule, and the pressures have increased again. I seem to always be going in different directions and often look forward to coming home at night to fall into my bed more exhausted than I would like. Right now this appears to be a season in my life, but I believe it is more than that, I believe it is the future of where I am headed.

When we experience busy seasons, pressures, or new demands we have to make choices about what comes and goes. We try to make more decisions about combining activities, simplifying tasks, and taking on less. It becomes easier to say no to those things which don’t bring us life and feed our souls. Those things that seem to be in between are more easily classified as good or bad.

Sometimes we have to make other choices, choices that are harder.

What if it is a good activity… but the cost of being involved (time, money, resources, energy) outweigh the benefit for you and others?  Maybe it is being involved in a health club but the time to travel there and the monthly cost outweight the benefit, and you know you could exercise at home if you stay motivated.

Finding balance is one of the most important things in leadership.

A new concept is make waves in leadership, that it is not just about time management, but it is also about energy management. Some things in our lives require an output of energy that drains us, and unless the benefits of being involved are high, these areas might be costing us too much.

Are there areas where you need to say no? Areas where you make changes to find balance?

Are there areas where the cost of being involved outweighs the benefit? What can you do to move toward that sweet spot of balance?

Are there things that are so valuable to you that you would never give them up?

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