Temperance plays a part in each of our worlds. It’s a fickle game—a puzzle for each person to determine his or her personal settings in life. Some people live their whole lives off-balance, never fully reaching their potential.
How temperance is defined here is balancing the temporal enjoyments you value (whether it be food, drink, consumer goods, travel, stability, independence, freedom of time) with the bigger goals you have in life. There is a personal line between excess and intention. Stepping over the line slides into diminished meaning or deprivation. In times when my focus was indulgence in its diverse forms, what I found instead was a labyrinth-like, sneaking sense that something was missing. In yo-yoing from one extreme to the other, Goldilocks style, I’ve learned the following: the grass is not greener on the other side; it’s different with its own set of pros and cons and the same in its lack of solution.
Overall, it truly comes down to moderation, as overused and cliché-worthy the concept is. Figuring out your life balance comes down to a personal formula only you can determine for yourself. It’s the balance of living and enjoying life in the present moment, combined with achieving the long-term goals that are meaningful to you. It may be a harder balance for some to discover, and if that’s you, remember this:
Taking steps to figure out your life balance is the most valuable and worthy action you can take for yourself. People undervalue and talk themselves out of action nine times out of ten due to uncertainty, fear and procrastination. The excuses may be brilliant, but excuses they still are. Resist the alluring comfort zone and take action today.
How do you begin by figuring out your life balance? There are three stages in a process you repeat over and over for the rest of your life as you continuously grow and evolve.
1) If you’re unhappy, resist the temptation to continue what you’re doing
The salient realization I’ve internalized over the years is regret stems from what you don’t do, from the things you ponder on but never take action towards. It’s the “what-if’s” that are shunned from daylight, banned to the recesses of the mind and to within your dreams.
The courage to make significant changes in my life has been difficult, uncomfortable, and terrifying. Those changes challenged me to the core to become stronger, more resilient, and braver in my actions. It was a move out of character for me, being raised to always have a plan and cover your bases. While I have no regrets, extreme fear, panic and doubt came along for the ride.
At the same time, there have been periods of extreme healing, joy, and internal peace. Strange that the extremes would go hand in hand together, but they do and they are not mutually exclusive. I would not have experienced the good parts without experiencing the disappointments. The feeling of pain contributes to the richer experience of joy. The struggles give way to the satisfaction and learning that comes from the internal growth.
2) Take action with boldness
Commit to taking action, with confidence and boldness. The greatest success and growth do not come from irresolution, constantly second-guessing your actions and changing your direction. Once you have chosen your path, embrace it and try it out whole-heartedly, giving as little thought as possible to your doubts, misgivings, and fear.
There is no one you need to impress or prove anything to, except for yourself. The act of finding your balance based on your strengths, weaknesses, temperament, and long-term goals is individual. Your life balance will look different than for someone else, so comparison is of little significance.
Even if things don’t work out as well as you hoped, you always learn from those experiences. Everything happens for a reason, even if you don’t understand it at the time. The new experiences open up new opportunities, although it may take time and some adjustment to be able to see them. Remember to be patient with yourself. We’ve been conditioned to expect instant gratification and that’s just not how it works in this process.
3) Learn and adjust as you go along
Inevitably, everything changes. Nothing stays the same for long. Learnings develop, circumstances shift, and new opportunities present themselves. It’s important to be aware of any learnings or changes and adjust as you go along.
You may find that the path you’ve chosen isn’t an ideal fit after all. At some point, you will grow out of any situation, regardless of how great it was for you in the past. There is a tendency to see this as a failure, but the reality is far from it. Without taking action, the realization and learning gained may not have occurred. With the added experience, you’re better off in choosing an alternative path going forward. You’re one step closer to figuring out what will work for you next, and that’s what matters.
With these three steps, you will be further along in defining your personal temperance for enjoying the present and achieving long-term meaning in your life. This process, a version of self-mastery, is one of the most difficult yet worthwhile undertakings you will go through if you choose to take responsibility and action. Here’s to living your life fully and without regrets!