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I wonder if you noticed that evenings at an executive retreat tend to lend themselves to nostalgia. The day’s work is done and as you sit and yarn, sooner or later someone in the group speaks of old times. This happens with unfailing regularity. You hear happy stories and sad ones- from the past. They could cover virtually anything- a childhood memory, an opportunity gone by, the amazingly low costs of those days or simply about things that you wish you had done – but couldn’t , or more often than not, didn’t.

A constant theme I hear is that we wish we could have spent more time with the family. Spent more time with our children when they were growing up -and perhaps needed us the most. And in pursuing interests which we can’t do now- for reasons of health or affordability. Some comments that one hears quite frequently:-

  • “I had such wonderful opportunities to play squash -but didn’t. It’s forbiddingly expensive now”.
  • “We lived in the mountains when I was much younger. I kept putting off climbing those peaks. Now they are beyond me”
  • ” I could have learnt that years ago but was busy with other things. I now find it almost impossible to understand. Things have changed so much”.
  • “Watching other’s children grow reminds me of my own kids. I didn’t have much time for them then. I have all the time now, but they are no longer around”

The bad news is that all of us have something to repent about. The good news is that it’s never too late to repent. You might not be able to do one thing that you missed- but you could quite easily immerse yourself in another which gives you that much joy- provided you give that activity the priority, it deserves.

I guess as you grow older things take on differing degrees of importance. In youth, you would seldom care about your health. With the major focus on work, it was inevitable that you pretty much took good health for granted. Something that you cannot afford to do as you get older. Likewise, for the younger person with less family responsibilities, the ability to take more risks ( be it for a career change or moving to a different environment altogether) is much higher than an older person who has more responsibilities – with less time on his side.

At the end of the day, we live life based on the choices we make and the priorities we assign. There is hope for us yet. Dennis Waitely, whom I admire as a writer,sums it up so well: ” Time is an equal opportunity employer. Each human being has exactly the same number of hours and minutes every day. Rich people can’t buy more hours. Scientists can’t invent new minutes. And you can’t save time to spend it on another day. Even so, time is amazingly fair and forgiving. No matter how much time you have wasted in the past, you still have an entire tomorrow”.

People who live truly fulfilling lives make time for everything that is meaningful to them. This includes work, leisure, health and family. A balanced lifestyle is not based on a mathematical equation.  What matters is not the amount of – but the quality of – time you spend on all that’s important to you.

By the way, Stacey Hoffer Weckstein, the creative source behind  Create A Balance.com has initiated a Group Writing Project on Life Balance. This post is my submission for the Life Balance Project. To read submissions from other bloggers, please follow this link.

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This is Post No: 323 of the “A Step A Day” series : To provide perspective and provoke thought to facilitate self-development across a wide spectrum of issues- big and small- crucial for executive success.