What is a balance point? In everyday language, it’s the emotional state you’re in when the important things in your life feel balanced. It may last a long time, and, for a while, we may coast along and enjoy life. But then something happens and boom, we’e out of whack. Why? And how can we get those good feelings back?
In Find Your Balance Point: Clarify Your Priorities, Simplify Your Life, and Achieve More, father-daughter team Brian Tracy and Christina Stein provide a wonderfully helpful guide for those who want to identify or reconnect with their values and life goals. This, the third book the two have written together, is a short one, and not all of the information is new. Still, it is a useful read. The idea is to help us sort through competing needs and desires, and to figure out what’s most important to us in the long term.
Do we really need help establishing our values? Some people do, but many of us only require a review of what’s important to us. Tracy, a motivational speaker, and Stein, a marriage and family counselor, emphasize the importance of gaining clarity. Our actions, and often how we perform under stress, are two strong indicators of what our values really are, they write. We may confuse what we think our values are, or want them to be, with how we actually behave most of the time. The book is meant to help us distinguish between the reality and our ideal.
Tracy and Stein highlight the need to eliminate competing distractions that sap our energy and take our time. They point out that successful people “think about what they want and how to get it.” We may assume that we do this, but most of us probably don’t on a daily basis. While some distractions are impossible to avoid, such as family crises, others can be ignored or made a lower priority. It could also be that we are placing too much importance on what are actually small things in the big picture, the authors write. Realistically, we cannot always control ourselves, but gradual movement in the right direction will have a lasting impact.
There are several simple exercises in the book. For example, one asks us to select words that describe us from a list of over eighty terms: words like compassionate, flexible, resourceful, and dependable. After “describing” ourselves this way, we then prioritize these values by identifying the top five. It may be harder than it seems.
Our so-called life category values are the most important categories of our lives, the authors write. Think parenting, work, and so on. Again, prioritizing these will help us determine where we want to spend our time and energy, as opposed to where we might de facto be spending them at the moment. And as we put our priorities in order, we are to consider not only the present but also what our future selves might want.
Naturally, setting goals and deadlines is important. We all know about this, but too often don’t really follow through. This could be because we have not been methodical about the goals, the authors posit. They encourage us to write down goals in detail along with possible challenges to achieving them.
Put simply, Tracy and Stein write, living according to our values will bring us happiness. The ideas in this latest book of theirs may not be new, but the authors do a nice job of presenting them in a concise manner.
Find Your Balance Point: Clarify Your Priorities, Simplify Your Life, and Achieve More
Berrett-Koehler Publishers, September 2015
Hardcover, 128 pages