Finding Success in a Balanced Lifestyle

05 Jan 2017 8:39 AM | ASCE Blog Editor (Administrator)

By Linda Kaplan, PE

On November 10th-12th, 2016, I had the opportunity to represent ASCE-Pittsburgh at this year’s Emerging Leaders Alliance Conference in Falls Church, VA.  The opening session was titled: “Personal Vision: Becoming an Indispensable Leader” and was given by Bob Heavers of Priority Management. The overall conference goal was to developing better leaders, and started with asking participants to take a closer look at what’s important to them and how they can be fully engaged as individuals.  We all want to be “successful,” but everyone has a different idea of what that means.

How do you define success? Most people will come up with a goal-based definition – I’m successful when I accomplish a set goal.  However, most will also recognize that they can be successful without accomplishing the goal, as long as they made progress.  This leads to the definition of success given by Mr. Heavers as “little more than moving, at whatever pace you choose, in the direction of things that are most important to YOU.” Therefore, the first step in being successful is determining what is most important to you.

So how do you define what’s important to you?  One way to do this is through the use of a Personal Balance Wheel.  Most of life can be simplified into 7 basic categories:

  • Spiritual: Includes any religion based activities, as well as other community service and giving back
  • Career: Includes your job, job growth and career path, and the time and hours dedicated to it
  • Family: Includes time with significant others, children, and extended family
  • Financial: Includes salary, savings, and overall financial security and satisfaction
  • Health: Includes time exercising or taking care of one’s health
  • Personal Growth: Includes self-driven learning, betterment, and other time focused on self-improvement
  • Recreation: Includes time spent with friends, engaging in other social activities, and relaxing

While this is certainly not a complete list, and other subgroups could be developed, it covers the basics and allows for an easy method of self-reflection.  Visualize these categories in a wheel, as shown below (or print out a copy if you’d like to try the exercise):

Click for printable version

Each category is scaled 0 to 10, with zero at the center of the wheel representing “I spend no time on this part of my life,” and 10 at the outer edge representing “I spend a lot of time on this part of my life.”  Draw a line across each section for where you think you are currently.  Is your life balanced? Or are you spending too much time on certain areas and not enough on others?  Now use a different color to draw a line across each section for where you would like to be.  How big are the differences?  This will allow you to see where you are failing yourself and where you should focus your energy to change.

While the numbers vary, it is believed that up to 80% of all illness and disease in the US is related to stress.  Stress is a sign that your wheel may be out of balance and you should consider making a change.  There is no need to make big changes all at once – drastic changes have been shown to be harder to maintain.  Instead, strive to move your lines one step closer together and see where it takes you.  You may begin to feel more successful by making just small changes in your life.

The above information was presented at the 2016 Emerging Leaders Alliance, co-sponsored by ASCE National.  The Emerging Leaders Alliance is a partnership among leading engineering and science-based organizations that provides high quality leadership training. Their mission is to provide an interdisciplinary Leadership Conference for select professionals, promoting the development of great leaders to guide our professions in addressing the needs of people in the 21st century.  Section Director Linda Kaplan, PE attended the conference and is sharing materials with our membership.


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