The concept that I’ll be focusing on today is where you put your focus when it comes to the four main aspects or engagement areas of your life. I’ve utilized this model in past discussions in helping you to see how you can actually emulate or push your value into each one of these four areas.
In case you have forgotten, the four engagement areas of life are the following: love (relationships), work, play and health.
LOVE: Now, when I say love, I don’t necessarily just mean that intimate romantic love that you might have with your partner. What I’m talking about are the really close personal relationships that add meaning and are incredibly important to you, you value them highly.
WORK: The second area would be work. Now work isn’t just work. It can be work, but it could also just be your profession development. It can be your growth patterns, it can be academic and educational.
PLAY: Play is recreation, re-energizing. Arts and crafts, lying back, entertainment.
HEALTH: Health is not only the physical health, but mental health, spiritual health, emotional health. That includes things like going to the gym, doing mindfulness meditation, eating correctly, drinking plenty and having a regular sleeping pattern.
The issue is, is that as we move through life we tend to focus in each area with different emphasis at different times. A lot of times this is a necessity, so we have to be able to move things around. However, sometimes, especially when we’re dealing with anxiety, we tend to start to hyper focus on one of those four areas. We may put all of our eggs, all of our focus up into work, because we are anxious about not having enough money to make ends meet.
Eventually we have plenty of money to make ends meet, but we have been doing the behavior for so long that we actually have lost track of the other three areas: relationships, play and health. That begins to have a cost that becomes detrimental.
So we push hard, and I’m sure you can think of people who are workaholics and they push super hard and they are able to establish this ground base, this area where they are relatively stable, only to have it wiped out, because they haven’t focused on heath. Or they become completely depressed, because all of their relationships are gone. Or they just forgot what it’s like to have fun.
A really simple concept, to keep in the back of your mind, is how to focus and how to keep a balance, a “work, life, play, health balance”, if you will.
Imagine that you have only five markers or five areas that you can focus on at one time. We’re just gonna go with five, you can make it more, but I wanna try to keep it as simple as possible. What a lot of people will do, as was just highlighted in the last example, is they’ll put three or four of these points, these coins, if you will, into the work category and maybe they’ll put one more of these other markers into, let’s say, relationship or maybe they put it into health, because they realize that if they don’t put one in health, it’s definitely going to affect their work.
But then they’re neglecting the friends and they’re neglecting the play. (no markers, no focus) Over time, that’s going to cause some problems. Over time, given your personal values are not going be met and you’re going to experience emotional pain not to mention physical side effects and symptoms. Now, other people will put three or four into the play area, and they’ve only got one chip left to put into one of the other areas. Perhaps they can’t keep a job or perhaps they can’t keep good friends, or their health just goes downhill.
One of the obvious solutions is to go ahead and just put one in each one of those categories. But then, I’ve had feedback from people I’ve work with that said, “But there are times when I need to put three into one area.” That’s true, you do. Sometimes life throws something big at you. You’ve got maybe one in the relationship area, one in health and then you have to put three into work and so you neglect play. But like I said, if we develop an actual behavior, if we go like this for too long, that’s going to cost us. Especially emotionally, not having downtime, playtime, something that’s, “Why are you working so hard if you don’t take the time to enjoy it, to sit back and reap the fruits of your labor?”
One of the best ways that I’ve found to get people to play around with this is put one coin into every single one of those boxes and hold one back. This would be something like a mindfulness practice. Be aware of that final chip, that final coin, that final area of focus. You hold it back and you use it when you see that one of those four areas is starting to lose some of its power or it needs more attention.
Perhaps the work area needs more attention. There’s a big project, that’s where I’m gonna put my extra focus. But I’m still gonna be mindful of and pay attention to the other three chips or tokens. I’m going to do what I can to make sure that I maintain those. If I have to borrow, I have to keep it in the back of my head, “I wanna put that coin back, I wanna put that token back as soon as possible.”
One coin engaged in every single area, one coin in the reserve that you can actually put where you like, when you need it, as needed. What people found is that when they can keep this in mind, when they’re aware, when they’re mindful … And they can try to keep this balance by putting one token or one coin into each one of these four areas of emphasis, that all they need is that one extra bit of focus, that one extra token, to go into the area that requires it.
They can do it early and they can get out on front of it, and therefore they don’t ever have to pull two, or three, or four to one category. You don’t have to take my word for this. You can simply just give it a shot. Think about these four main areas: love, work, play, health. Make sure that you’re doing something every single day for every single one of those categories. Then you have, remember, one focus point left that you can put into any one of those four areas that requires a little bit of extra attention. See if it’s possible to be aware, to be mindful, of things coming down the pipe, that you can dedicate that extra moment, that extra focus early, to stay out in front of it, so that it never bubbles over.
Like I said, even when it does bubble over … Let’s just say something happens with your health, you may need to borrow one of those focal points, one of those tokens, from somewhere else. But you need to remember to come back and work hard to keep your love, work, play, heath balance in check.