Balance. Couple walking on railroad.

Balance

The notion of balance is an old one but is as important now as it has ever been. Modern life tends to move at a frenetic pace. Our professional and personal lives are equally demanding, and we are getting information, both helpful and unhelpful, at the speed of light.

We each start our day with a bottle full of mental and emotional energy—our energy juice—and it can go fast.

We use up a significant amount during our workday. For many, that’s where most of the bottle is poured. Then when we come home, we pour a bit more out—maybe while coaching our kids or engaging in their school functions. We pour a bit more out while interacting with our spouse and working through marital issues. Then we see if there’s any more left in the bottle to address day-to-day problems and issues, such as bills, doctor appointments, household maintenance, and the never-ending stream of minutiae we all have to deal with. After all this, we turn to those things that we do for ourselves. But when we pick up the bottle, there’s nothing left.

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Criticism. Woman hearing criticism from another.

Criticism

It’s never pleasant to be criticized—even if the person criticizing you has the best of intentions. But being open to criticism, even if you disagree with it, can potentially improve your path in life.

The path of self-improvement should be continuous. Part of this journey is a healthy and honest self-assessment, but we should also be open to the opinions of others. This doesn’t mean that you have to accept, agree with, or incorporate others’ criticism, but it never hurts to consider it. Sometimes someone else’s opinion is not meant with the best of intentions, and although we should be aware of their motives, that doesn’t mean that what they’re saying is wrong. Consider the motives of those criticizing you, but even if they’re hurtful or harmful, don’t let that get in the way if their criticisms are valid.

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Doubt. A woman contemplating her next move.

Doubt

Every time I try something new, expand my comfort zone, or take on unfamiliar responsibilities, I am nagged with self-doubt. Sometimes it’s a whisper on the wind, sometimes it’s a big sweaty man screaming in my face, but it’s always there.

Self-doubt can be a rational dose of reality, or it can be an irrational, paralyzing nightmare. But in either case, I try, with varying degrees of success, to keep the helpful aspects and leave the rest behind.

Throughout each of our lives, we will periodically be faced with situations in which we are asked to do things that we are not necessarily comfortable with. We may not be confident that we have what it takes to get the job done, handle the decisions that need to be made, or even to understand the issues we will face.

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Dreams. Man sitting under The Milky Way Galaxy

Dreams

Everyone has dreams.

Our dreams help define us as people.

As children, we grow up wanting to be rock stars, or bestselling authors, or the president. We are “thinking big” — thinking about reaching the pinnacle of our passions. But achieving this height does not just happen. The realization of any big dream takes a combination of hard work, cultivating relationships with the right people, diligent preparation, and luck.

For some, the image of our dreams drives us to obsessive routines. Practicing for hours and hours every day, reading anything they can get their hands on, endless networking. For others, dreams remain dreams.

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Work. Young woman working in factory

Work

The word “work” often has a negative connotation. We have to wake up every day and do something that we might not necessarily choose to do if we weren’t getting paid for it.

But if we think about our days as a series of moments, each special in its own way, we can transcend many of the negative aspects of working and change our attitude about what we do—from one of working to one of being—making the most out of each moment and realizing that each moment is special.

In our jobs, we may not always have the flexibility to work on the things we care about or enjoy, but we do have control over the person who shows up for the job. We should care about the work we do because we are the ones doing it. We are bringing our presence, intellect, energy, and personality to our jobs. We are giving of ourselves, and that, in and of itself, makes the work we do special.

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