On this blog, I have previously written about life balance. Not work-life balance – life balance. I want to touch on that subject again, as it’s something I am very passionate about.
So why life balance and not work-life balance? Harry M. Kraemer Jr.’s book “From Values to Action” lays out how we have 168 hours each week and the power to decide how these hours are spent. I, like many of you, have my spouse, children, friends, coworkers and network. Learning how to strike your optimal life balance takes time, and I have found self-reflection to be key in my learning. Knowing what makes you happy is key.
However, on top of balancing all of the important people in your life, finding time to learn and grow as a person is imperative, but often easier than we might think. There are opportunities to learn all around us – classes, books, industry groups and even travel!
Recently, my family and I traveled to Spain. While we were there, I was grateful to enjoy the beautiful country with my wife and kids while visiting friends and witnessing firsthand the Spanish culture. Here are some takeaways I brought home with me:

  • A strong support system is everything: My Spanish friend Alberto is married with four kids. He is incredibly supportive to his wife and her career aspirations, and likewise, she is very supportive of her husband. They own their responsibility to one another to make each other happy, and because of that, they are both successful people with an amazing family around them. Your support system is everything, but you also need to become someone else’s support system to truly make it work.
  • With people, invest in quality: Visiting Barcelona, I was passionate about understanding the business climate; there is a lot of unemployment in Spain, and I just wanted to learn more. Alberto was able to set up multiple meetings for me with business associates, all of whom were incredibly sharp. Between that and watching Alberto’s family dynamic, I was reminded how it’s so important to invest in quality relationships. You are who you surround yourself with. You always want to be around those who make you a better you.
  • Think about how you represent yourself: There are many ways to express and represent yourself, but one of the most obvious, yet overlooked ways is how you dress. The Spanish people were noticeably dressed very well, and you couldn’t help but respect them and feel that they respected you. I know it might sound shallow, but the time you take in presenting yourself will get noticed.
  • Set good examples: I had the opportunity to go to Alberto’s kid’s fourth grade soccer match, and I was very impressed with how respectful the parents were to the kids, their opponents and one another. Even the coaches were exceptionally encouraging to all of the players, regardless of the team! My favorite thing I saw was the coach of the winning team cheering on the losing team, reminding them to finish the game with pride and dignity, because they worked hard and played really well. Wow! That coach set an example of respect so unforgettable that there is no doubt in my mind that all of those kids walked away from that game as better people. Why not do the same for each other? Setting good examples can only spread more good.
  • Be warm: Alberto took such great care of us while we were in Spain; he went above and beyond and treated us like family. But he was not alone! My wife and I had to take our son to the emergency room during our trip. While we were here, I observed a nurse going patient-to-patient in the waiting room, checking on everyone. She would kneel down to speak with children, and she spoke to the adults with genuineness. It’s easy to be self-absorbed, forgetting about those around you and carrying on with your work, but we should always be warm and approachable, regardless of the setting.
  • Hold on to your values: Finally, I feel very lucky to have witnessed Alberto’s values in action. He is a wonderful man who lets his sense of purpose guide him, and as a result, he lives a meaningful life. Your moral compass and sense of purpose are what makes you you. If we hold firmly on to them, we will all live more fulfilled lives.

All of these takeaways eventually go back to life balance. Again, we all have 168 hours each week. Don’t isolate all these hours with the different aspects of your life! Peer groups, coworkers, friends, family, spouse, kids, business, sports, the arts – let them all flow together. Once you learn how to make your life flow, life balance becomes effortless, and you will get more out of your experiences along the way.
“You have all you need within you to become the best version of yourself.”  – Mastin Kipp