Archived Opinion

Learning to live with intention

Learning to live with intention

Ever had a life-changing book fall into your literal hands? This happened to me recently. 

I order my favorite rare, organic products through an online company called Thrive Market. I’m offered a free gift with each order. About five months ago, I received powdered collagen, which has since become all the rage with folks trying to preserve their skin, hair, bones and joints. Now, I’m hooked on it. 

The next month I received a free book called High Performance Habits: How Extraordinary People Become That Way by Brendon Burchard. I thought it looked boring and not nearly as flashy or trendy as the powdered collagen. I tossed it atop a pile of books on the floor and moved on. Weeks later, it caught my eye. I picked it up and flipped through the first few pages. 

Hmmmmm … it piqued my interest immediately. I can be a sucker for inspirational literature, but often get bored a few chapters in. I decided to give this book a try, reading one chapter each morning before starting my day. 

And now, halfway through the text, I’m still engaged. 

Burchard offers a multitude of advice and strategies with the overarching theme being habits and actions result in high performance, as opposed to natural talent or sheer passion. I could go on offering a slew of tips and advice I’ve learned from the book, but instead, I want to focus on a singular section that focuses on work-life balance, a concept that impacts most everyone. 

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Work-life balance is a conundrum that eludes many of us, and through this book I’ve learned it’s all about perception. Burchard says our biggest mistake is trying to spend equal time on work and “life” when in fact it’s not about quantity at all. We’re routinely searching for more time to relax, exercise, travel or be with loved ones, but the interesting thing is, we actually spend approximately the same amount of time in all arenas, but what are we doing with those hours? 

For instance, you typically spend 30 percent of a week working, 30 percent sleeping and the other 30 percent on life. The problem comes when we’re not intentional about this final 30 percent. Watching TV, scrolling through social media, piddling around the house, merely co-existing with people we love and other similar behaviors do not equate to deliberate living. 

Burchard does a great job clarifying the problem. When people feel “out” of balance, it’s because one area of their life becomes more intense, overwhelming or time-consuming than other areas. They get so obsessed with a work project, family time suffers or they’re so focused on a relationship issue, work suffers. 

The best tactic is to measure all of life’s arenas in terms of progress or happiness as opposed to time spent. 

Here’s a quick weekly strategy to help all of us. Life can be loosely delineated into 10 distinct categories: health, family, friends, intimate relationship/marriage, mission/work, finances, adventure, hobby, spirituality and emotion. Every Sunday night, complete the simple task of rating each category on a sale from 1 through 10, assess your scores and develop goals in each other. 

As with anything in life, shouldn’t we measure where we are so we can know how to improve? 

As Burchard puts it, “If you aren’t consistently measuring the major arenas of your life, then you couldn’t possibly know what the balance you seek is or is not.”

I just finished this chapter, so I’ve only utilized the strategy once so far, but it was very telling and eye opening for me. It’s a very simple, yet effective check-in. Humans are smart and creative. We can come up with goals for every category, but we need to follow through with them to feel the results. That’s the key. 

As a single mom, the work-life balance has become even more complicated because it’s mired with mom guilt. I already feel guilty about my children having to adjust to a new normal, so then when I do things for myself, in an attempt to find balance, I feel even guiltier. Time and therapy have helped with this, and now, Burchard’s is proving to be extremely beneficial and motivating during the healing process. 

Strange how sometimes the universe knows what we need more than we do. From a box full of food, supplements and teas to better my wellness, a book ended up being the item that’s leaving the most impact and affecting more realms of my life than any other. 

There’s a quote that says, “Create the life you love.” I think we forget we actually have control over our lives. We stumble into each day reacting to this or that instead of living with intention and implementing behaviors that lead to a bigger, fuller life, a life we’ll reflect upon with honor and pride. 

In this chaotic world with stimuli at our every point of vision, we’ve got to slow down and speed up simultaneously. Slow down so you can listen to the universe but speed up the frequency of habits and actions that give you what you really want. It’s a cool thing to be in the driver’s seat, so find your path and enjoy the ride. 

(Susanna Barbee can be reached at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.)

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