We all fall out of balance.
It’s the nature of our busy lifestyles. People who are determined to succeed (in their careers, in their hobbies, in their side-hustles, and just life in general) struggle with this the most. As a result, everyone and everything else ends up taking priority—over yourself.
What’s the infamous cliché? Family, friends, fitness, work, sleep — pick three.
The key to staying balanced, however, is to always keep an eye on how far out of balance you are in any given moment. We all go through tides and shifts where aspects of our lives take priority, and that’s OK. What’s important is that we recognize when this happens, and can very quickly move back to the center.
So, how do you tell your life (or an aspect of your life) is out of balance?
Pay attention to these 7 things:
1. You haven’t exercised in weeks.
If it’s been longer than a week since you’ve been to the gym, or even gone for a walk, something is off.
Exercise, in itself, exists on a sliding scale. Some people love weightlifting, others enjoy going for a swim. There’s yoga, tennis, recreational basketball, your options for exercise are endless and each one works well for different people.
What’s important is that you do something to keep yourself physically active. And the reason why this is such a key indicator your life is out of balance is because your body is your subconscious alarm system. As soon as you start doing something physical, you immediately get a sense of where you’re at — how tired you are, if you’re feeling sick, etc.
You need these moments to stay connected to your body.
2. You are spending more money than usual.
Let’s be honest, they don’t call it “retail therapy” for nothing.
While there certainly is a time and place to overspend, treat yourself, go out for a few nice dinners or invest heavily into your business, it’s always worth considering where your purchasing patterns are coming from.
Whether we like to admit it or not, shopping and overspending can be as powerful of a coping mechanism as any other escape in life. So when you see these habits start to increase, it’s worth pausing for a moment and questioning whether this it’s truly necessary or the result of something deeper.
3. You struggle to stay Present with people.
Jittery during dinner?
Always checking your phone and email?
These are small signs that you’re stressed, and your mind is elsewhere. When you can no longer be Present and just enjoy time with the people you’re with, you need to audit yourself and ask what’s causing this stress.
Entrepreneurs, specifically, have a bad habit of being glued to their phones. And, having been caught in that cycle myself, I have always found it to be rooted in both impatience and worry. But should you take the time to reflect on where those feelings are coming from, almost always you realize it’s your own doing.
There’s no reason you should be refreshing your email 97 times a day.
4. You are eating poorly — or worse, not at all.
Workaholics tend to ditch things like sleep and healthy meals the moment work becomes an obsessive priority.
What you’re eating, and how often you’re eating, is such a good indicator as to how the rest of your life is doing — and whether you’re in or out of balance. For example, you should have time to eat a solid breakfast. You should have time to take a half hour to eat lunch. You should have time to eat a nice dinner. If those things aren’t happening, then you’re dealing with a foundational issue in your daily routine.
5. You have dozens of people in your life you haven’t called back.
Trust me, I know.
It’s not easy to make time for everyone.
But as soon as you start having multiple people all leaving you voicemails saying, “Hey uh, I’ve called you to catch up three weekends in a row now. Call me back,” you have a problem.
At the end of the day, no matter how much you achieve in business, those accolades will never take the place of the real relationships you have with people in your life. So, it’s vital that you remember not to damage those relationships in the process of your own life goals.
The people around you, and their reactions to you, can be great indicators as to where you’re at and how busy you’ve been lately.
6. You haven’t taken a vacation, or even a long weekend, in years.
I’m just saying, there’s more to life than emails and client calls.
My girlfriend reminded me of this during a recent high-stress period of my life. I told her I didn’t have time for a vacation, let alone a long weekend, and she said, “Do you remember when you were sick a few months ago, and you couldn’t do anything for a few days?”
“Yes,” I said, failing to see her point.
“Did everything crumble? Was everything right where you left it when you came back?”
“Yes…” I said again, now understanding.
“You have time to take a vacation. It will be fine.”
She was right.
7. When people talk about things they enjoy doing, you get defensive.
This is probably my favorite indicator of all, because it’s so revealing in the simplest way.
You know your life is out of balance when people around you start talking about things like their beach volleyball group, or the day they spent relaxing on the water, and your internal response is something to the effect of, “Yeah, that’s because you’re lazy and you don’t have goals.”
That sort of strong response is almost always a red flag that you’re in full-blown “achievement mode,” and have lost sight of the value of balancing that side out with the other aspects of life.
I want to re-iterate here, there is nothing wrong with being in that “go-go-go” mode. But, just know it’s not sustainable. You can’t be in that headspace forever, without seeing other aspects of your life fall out of balance — and cause consequences as a result.
So, remember to take the time to balance out. It will only help you in the long run.
This article first appeared on Medium.