When Is Enough, Enough? Revisiting the Balance Model

Posted in Balanced Lifestyle, Work/Life Balance | April 18, 2012 |

Last weekend I sat on my home couch for more than 20 minutes in a painful predicament. I had articles to finish and wanted to do more writing, but my friend had just texted me and asked me to go bike riding since the weather was exceptionally beautiful.

My psychologist had urged me to maintain more social contact, which is positive to my recovery from depression. Also, I liked that friend and wanted to spend more time with her.

On the other hand however, I was hoping to finish some writing for my blog, which was also therapy for me in a way. I had done some 2 hours of writing that day already but felt that I had fallen short of my goal to produce an article.

So I was tempted to carry on writing and forgo the chance to do some fun exercise with a friend for I thought I had not written enough

But, when is enough, enough?

I sat for 20 minutes in this dilemma, trying to decide what to do, until I remembered something my psychologist had taught me during our cognitive behaviour therapy sessions. Indeed, I had previously written about “The Balance Model” on my blog and a psychology website.

The Balance Model is divided into 4 quadrants:

  • on the X axis (horizontal), visualize “Self” and “Social” as opposing forces
  • on the Y axis (vertical), visualize “Achievements” and “Fantasy” as opposing forces

The quadrants are as follows:

  1. Self
    represents anything that relates to the individual and the individual alone, for example, health, diet, exercise, me-time, interests, sleep, hobbies…
  2. Social
    represents anything to do with other people, such as dinner with friends, social clubs, events, seminars, romantic relationships…
  3. Achievements
    represents anything that involves an increase in knowledge or the individual considers a goal or achievement, for instance, career promotions, language skills to help equip the individual for a job, examinations and professional qualifications…
  4. Fantasy
    represents anything that has to do with dreams, daydreams, wishes, something that does not necessarily have to be attainable…

Part of my self-destruction was brought about by focusing too much in the Achievements quadrant in the last 20 odd years – indeed burnt out should not have been surprising given the time I spent accomplishing goals after goals I set for myself.

Consequently, I had neglected my “Self” and my health deteriorated into severe migraines, back pains and eventually major depression. I also had no time to spend with friends or cultivate relationships.

During my recovery, I rediscovered my passion for writing, and started blogging about my reflections on living with depression and self-awareness. However, this passion became yet another “Achievement” for me, and it wasn’t fun anymore.

Day after day I spent time mulling over SEOs, keywords, regularly posting articles, drafting articles, establishing a platform for eventually, and hopefully a book. Even in my misery, I was trying to accomplish something for the world to see instead of focusing on my own health.

I sat on my couch, and looked out the window, contemplating an otherwise easy to respond invitation.

Visualizing the Balance Model in my head, I placed “Writing” in the Achievements quadrant, whereas “bike riding” belonged to the Social quadrant. I was very skewed towards the Achievements quadrant and it was up to me to change that habit. Therefore, even though I could not quantify it, I decided today’s writing was enough.

It was enough for me, in my life, in my circumstance, at that particular moment in time.

The Social quadrant was what I needed to work on, and thus I went bike riding with my friend and had a wonderful time out in the open. What felt like idling away my time because I wasn’t “achieving” something turned out to be pleasurable and gave me new inspiration for my writing.

It might be a different scenario for you, but next time you are considering between choices, trying using the Balance Model to help you decide.

Balance does not mean equal quantity. It means the right amount at the right time.

What quadrant do you have to focus on today?

Smart Thoughts (4)

  1. Ani says:

    Very interesting approach Noch Noch… and itss nice to see bloggers I read writing for each other :)

  2. Glynis Jolly says:

    Horizontally I must be ok. Vertically I probable have some problems. The Fantasy side is zilch, absolutely nothing. I do not think about what COULD be or how I’d like things to be. Not ever. I don’t see the point in thinking about those things. I like working with what I know I have. This still gives me room to alter, adjust and even change things in my life. The catch is that it is all very real.