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How do you define a ‘full life’?

Is it a life spent in the pursuit of a singular, all-consuming goal? Or is it a balanced life with all decks stacked up neatly into an immovable, balanced house of cards?

Think of a moderately successful person, e.g. your local entrepreneur running a popular coffee shop with two other locations planned for Spring.

She jumps leaps and bounds in her success quotient if she’s also parenting two children, giving back to her community, sitting on boards of not-for-profits, and posting photos of her European vacations regularly on Facebook. And of course, she just ran the local marathon in her size 4 Lululemon workout pants.

She doesn’t just have a successful business. She truly has it all. She embodies being successful at work while marinating in joy and fulfillment at home.

Now think of someone who exhibits a singular focus, e.g. a high powered lawyer relentlessly racing up the corporate ladder with the effortless ease of a Tough Mudder champion.

A respected local leader to look up to? But what if she’s sacrificing family, comfort, and outside interests along the way? We start to feel pity for her. We lament everything she’s missing out that makes life beautiful.

And yet, we forgive the same singular focus when it comes to world-famous entrepreneurs like Elon Musk or Steve Jobs. Their sacrifices and dismissal of family and leisure are worth it. Because they’re changing global paradigms and shaking up industries.

When you make big sacrifices for work success, you need to have much more to show for your life.

Moderate success won’t do. You need stratospheric success to be elevated in society’s eyes.

Since most of us cannot achieve the success of Elon Musk or Steve Jobs, we ‘role model’ ourselves after the local successful entrepreneur. We put pressure on ourselves to excel in every aspect of life. Work, Health, Family, Community, Leisure — we must run hard and fast to distinguish ourselves in everything. All cups must be full at all times.

But the reality of life is that something has to give. No one can keep all cups full to the brim at all times.

Balance involves parceling your life into segments that beautifully knit together in a seamless patchwork.

When that local entrepreneur is planning out her next two locations, you better believe she’s not coming home for dinner every night. When she’s on vacation with her family in Europe, she has unanswered emails in her inbox, insistently blinking. When she’s training for a marathon, she’s giving up time at the local community events to fit in her workouts.

There aren’t enough hours in the day to live a truly full life. Choices need to be made.

All we can hope for is that we make the right one for ourselves at the right time. Being fully present in the moment is much more powerful than multitasking through our lives.

A healthy heart monitor of life bounces around from day-to-day, week-to-week, and month-to-month. After all, a completely flat heart monitor resting in balance means that you’re dead.

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