Hey there Reader,
Happy Friday ya'll!
I'm writing to you from sunny San Diego, California today. A cancelled nerd conference (about image processing and delivery on the internet) turned into a week-long personal vacation and recharge.
In fact, this has been a wonderful week, and I really needed it. I've been struggling lately with trying to figure out the next chapter of my life and with some loneliness from some personal life challenges. But this week has really refreshed me in a big way and reminded me of the things that are truly most important to me.
I reconnected with two friends from high school that I haven't seen in ten (!!!) years, met a new friend randomly in a cafe, and got to explore much more of San Diego. I also, for whatever reason, finally made some progress on improving my sleep schedule again. We'll have to see how well that sticks, but I'm hopeful.
So this week I am writing a more personal newsletter, sharing a reflection on balance that I've been thinking about lately, and I'll return to markets and other nerd stuff next time for November's Money Issue.
Seeking balance above all
It seems to me like life is a perpetual chase, not of happiness, but of peace. And further, that life is a pursuit of balance, because balance is the best predictor of peace. Today, I'd like to walk you through an exercise for finding your balance.
If you've never tried an exercise like this before, I encourage you to give it a go. Get a piece of paper, your phone, or a notepad and rate your life on a 1-10 scale for the following 8 areas of life (10 being everything is amazing, 1 being everything is desperately horrible).
- Health and Wellbeing: Do you feel healthy? My score: 9.
- Intimate Relationship: Are you satisfied with your love life? My score: 2.
- Money: Do you feel financially secure (not rich, but secure) and are you happy with the lifestyle you're able to afford? My score: 3.
- Career and/or Business: Does your chosen line of work or business bring you fulfillment and meaning? Are you good at what you do and proud of it? My score: 6.
- Spirituality or Personal Fulfillment: Whether that means religion, general spirituality, or something different, rank how connected you feel with the world around you. My score: 7.
- Social Relationships: How are your relationships with your family, friends, and community? My score: 3.
- Recreation: Do you have enough fun in life? Do you even know what you like to do for fun (some people have a hard time answering that)? My score: 7.
- Lifestyle: Do you feel good in your home/regular environments? Do you enjoy the things in your life (TV, car, furniture, food, etc.)? My score: 10.
Now, go over your answers and identify two things: any scores 8 and above and any scores 3 and below.
First, take a moment to be grateful for everything 8 and above. I am personally grateful for my health and how I've really gotten into a much healthier place in recent years (story about my weight loss journey for anyone who hasn't read it yet), and I'm grateful for the life I get to live. You may have noticed I rated Lifestyle as a 10 for myself, because even though it isn't perfect and there are definitely things I'd change, I still feel really good about how I live my life, hence the 10.
Next, make a note of everything 3 and below and consider which ones seem to be affecting you the most. I have three: Intimate Relationship, Money, and Social Relationships. Of those three, the relationships are most pressing to me. I really want to connect with a woman and build a strong, passionate relationship with her, and I've kinda realized lately that I really haven't found my tribe so to speak either.
While I have some good friends and pretty good relationships with my family (though this could be better too), I really want more people in my life who are also ambitious and creative like me, people who will push me to be the best version of myself. I also want to have more people in my life who really show me they love and care about me and who make me feel safe to show them that I love and care about them. I've realized lately that I'm actually a very loving person whose just rarely felt truly comfortable enough to express that about myself.
Pick one thing
If you want to try to bring yourself into better balance, the best way is to simply pick one of the areas from your areas that need the most work and put some effort into that area.
Or you can cheat like me and pick two (Social and Intimate Relationships). It's your life. ;)
I also have found that I'm much more effective at making change when I choose just one thing to do in order to address my focus area at a time as well. Otherwise, it can feel pretty overwhelming and daunting to be trying to do ten things at once (usually on top of a pretty hectic life in the first place).
Wondering what my "one thing" is? Getting back into salsa dancing. I had been going dancing pretty regularly in the six months or so before the pandemic, but since the pandemic I haven't gone back. Dancing, for me, is an opportunity to meet people that I want to have in my tribe (friends), and of course potentially an opportunity to meet a significant other. It actually pushes forward both my priority areas, but it's also challenging for me to get back into because, well, nerves are a bitch and a half.
What's your "one thing"? If you feel comfortable sharing, reply to this email with your answer for a little social accountability (I won't share your answer with anyone else, pinky promise).
Have a longer-term vision too
While your "one thing" is all about short-term improvement to your life's balance, it's healthy to think a little about the long-term too. That means thinking of plans that holistically address more than one area.
I won't share mine here, mostly cause I don't really have a clear picture of it right now, but I did want to mention that your goal isn't to outline a perfect plan and follow it perfectly. Life is unpredictable, you are imperfect, plans go awry. A better way to think about it is establishing an "intention" or a high-level goal that can be achieved in many ways. That way you build variance into the plan and won't get thrown off so easily when things don't go according to plan.
A quick recap
I know that was a lot of info, so here's the quick version:
- Map your life satisfaction along these eight areas: Health and Wellbeing, Intimate Relationship, Money, Career and/or Business, Spirituality or Personal Fulfillment, Social Relationships, Recreation, and Lifestyle.
- Take a minute to be grateful for those areas rated 8 or better and note those areas rated 3 or less.
- Of your areas rated 3 or less, pick one or two to focus on in this season of your life.
- Pick "one thing" that will move the needle in that focus area you just picked and put your effort into that "one thing" exclusively. Don't worry about doing anything more than that.
- Take some time to think about a longer-term plan to improve other areas as well, but don't worry about acting on any of it yet. This is more of a thought exercise to help you figure out future "one things" and motivate you to push forward in the short-term.
As always, if you enjoyed this style of newsletter, let me know by replying to this email. It's always nice to get some feedback!
I don't really have too much to write for a Journey Update this week. I guess I'll say this: I feel that I've been letting you guys down a bit on this newsletter. I have not been good about getting new issues out weekly the last few months, and while there are some reasons, at the end of the day, I just haven't made this enough of a priority.
And I've been even worse on the writing front yikes. I didn't publish a single story in September or October.
Thing is that I've been struggling to figure out where I want to go next as I alluded to at the top of this email. And really I just kinda feel like I bit off more than I could chew and wanted to do all this stuff with my career and building a business that I sorta blinded myself to the rest of my life, and these last 3 or 4 weeks have I think really kicked me in the pants and reminded me of just what I was ignoring: my social life and relationships.
That's actually been a theme in my life that I've almost tried to distract myself from my social struggles with hobbies and passion projects and stuff, because those things are easier for me to approach than building a healthy and happy social life. We're all born with different kinds of intelligence and develop some more than others, and for me, social intelligence (and by extension, romantic intelligence which I would argue is a thing) were by many orders of magnitude my weakest. It felt easier to distract myself with things that I felt more confident in than really address the hard stuff that was hurting.
But I want to change that. I want to address the hard stuff, to put time and effort into those areas of my life that I've mostly ignored until now. It won't be easy, but very little worthwhile things in life are easy.
That's all for this week's issue. Thanks for reading, and you'll see me in your inbox again next week!
If I can ask you to do just one thing, consider sharing this newsletter with a friend or family member. Here's the link so you can pass it along: https://aherosjourney.co/.