Find Balance, Find Happiness

Posted By on Feb 22, 2013 | 10 comments


I write books.  I also work a job as a high school guidance counselor.  On top of that, I coach soccer.  I have a girlfriend and two cats.  Yeah, I like cats (truth is, I love most animals).

Stands to reason that I am probably pressed for time most days.  You’d be right in thinking that.  I try to always hit my minimum daily word count of 2000 words (with a hope of 3000) on top of working my job, coaching, and spending time with my little family.

Each morning, I write down the goals for the day on my white board.  It sits across from me in my office so I can see the things I have completed and not.  I put the things of highest priority at the top and work my way down.  If I don’t get to something, I just push it over to the next day.

For a while, I used to get down on myself when I didn’t finish all of my daily goals.  I felt like there was a timer counting down all the time, ticking away and adding pressure to my routine.  I guess I felt that way because I wanted to be able to write books full time and the more books I wrote, the closer to that goal I would get.

You lose perspective on the truly important things when you think that way.  You find yourself less happy with the work you complete, you can get irritated, and the feeling of failure starts to creep its way into your mind.

I read an article about author Dean Koontz once, on a plane heading to Seattle.  Koontz is a New York Times Best Selling Author, something most writers dream about.  But up until a few years ago, he wasn’t really content with what he was doing.  The article went on to talk about how he and his wife got a dog, and that dog changed everything.

The dog demanded time from Koontz, time he should have been spending at the computer creating new novels.  But he didn’t have a choice.  He had to play with the dog, walk the dog, let the dog sit on his lap.  A funny thing happened as a result.

He found that he was getting less work done but feeling much happier with his life.  His wife, too, spent more time with Dean and the dog, bringing the two of them closer together.  Their lives stopped being just about the business of writing books and more about the important things, moreover, the most important thing.  Balance.

Maybe you have heard the expression, “all work and no play.”  I firmly believe in that.  It’s the reason that, no matter how many of my goals I’ve completed or how many words I’ve written, when my cats jump into my lap, I stop what I’m doing and pet them.  It’s the reason that when my girlfriend comes home, I quit working for the day and just spend time with her, even if I haven’t hit my daily word count.

Even in the books I write, my characters take time to enjoy the things they want to do in life.

It’s all about balance.  Nothing else really matters when it comes down to it.  You could be the richest person in the world with fancy cars, a beautiful home, and more toys than you knew what to do with.  But if all you do is grind out goals every single day, you won’t be happy.  So do yourself a favor.  Let the good little things in life interrupt you.  Enjoy the interruptions.  Your goals can always slide over one day for the things that really matter.

If you like this post, check out this interview by a great guy who gets it, Chris Brogan.  I think you’ll like it too.

10 Comments

  1. Ernie,
    Get outta my head! I just had this discussion with my wife, and ended up using it for today’s post on my site – then I come here and find out you beat me to the punch!
    Gotta go now – my cat just jumped in my lap – no kidding!

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    • lol! I’m sorry. 🙂

      That is so cool that you and your wife were talking about that and that you wrote a similar post. Now I have to go read it. 🙂

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  2. Ernie,
    I was checking around my files and was stunned to find that I’m not following your site – I thought I was, but it must have slipped through my Swiss-Cheesed brain. So, I immediately signed up for the E-Team, but it sent me to what looks like a broken link. Is that all full? I’m going to sign up for the regular follow anyway, just in case. Can’t believe I let that slip… Stupid! Stupid!
    Later,
    MP

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  3. Funny – the normal follow link also goes to a ‘not found page’. Something amiss?

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  4. Ah, the all important balance! I am really bad at this. I tend to work myself into the ground for a few weeks, have a stress meltdown, then pick myself up and do it all over again. I realized just recently that I’d be a much nicer person if I didn’t stay up until midnight writing every night, so I streamlined some of my projects and am trying to aim for an 11 pm bedtime with the goal of a 10pm one someday! I try to take one day off every weekend to enjoy the island and soak up some sun. My friends are pretty good about keeping me accountable with this! It sounds like you have some great discipline both in that you write so much each day and can also “turn it off” to spend time with your girlfriend. I still hang out with other people and think I should be working, so I need to learn how to quiet that little voice and live in the moment.

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    • For me, those things are always in the back of my mind, the stuff I want to work on. But the key is to remember what you’re working so hard for.
      I want to run my book business so I can spend more time at home or with friends. If you don’t put away the work for at least a little bit, you’re defeating the purpose of working for yourself.
      I like your goal of 11pm. 10 definitely sounds even better. Now get out on that beach for me! 🙂

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  5. I totally agree – I am in similar situation right now, I want to do less work, even for less amount of money. Just to have time for myself and my hobbies.
    Best Regards!

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  6. I have also recently found this to be true! To be able to enjoy what you are doing as a “job” and also to be able to cherish every minute of life is invaluable! Finding that balance is the secret to a successful life! Keep writing and continue to inspire new writers like myself.

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    • Thanks for the kind words, Aaron. The cherishing part is so important.
      I appreciate you sharing.

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