Is Achieving Balance Possible? Is This Even the QUESTION?

Matthew Kelly recently published a book entitled Off-Balance, Getting Beyond the Work – Life Balance Myth to Personal and Professional Satisfaction (Link can be found here). For those who might be unfamiliar with him, Matthew Kelly is an Australian Catholic, management consultant, motivational speaker for Dynamic Catholic and the author of a number of best-selling books including The Four Signs of a Dynamic Catholic and Rediscovering Catholicism.

Kelly recommends four steps to a path to a better, more balanced life:

  1. Set clear priorities
  2. Don’t let top priorities be eclipsed by lesser ones
  3. Establish a strategy and good habits for you to meet the priorities
  4. Measure your progress hold yourself accountable

In reviews about the book, I read a statement that Kelly’s recommendation to such a life “are quite simple.” Nevertheless simple is not the same as easy as Matthew Kelley would say.

A number of years ago I had a conversation with a Catholic management consultant with a strong faith who was also very much committed to his personal spiritual life. He mentioned that, from a management consulting point of view, there are many leadership models out there and that, for the most part, all of them are good. He said that whether one might succeed or fail does not depend on the content of the particular approach. His advice was pick one - but stick with it - month after month year after year. That will determine whether or not it is successful.

This “balance issue” just seems to be such a hot topic today. It comes up again in again and conversations, in homilies, on bookshelves, in professional seminars. Michael Hayatt from “Intentional Leadership” talks about it in this Podcast, Overcommitted?. Dr. Henry Cloud & Dr. John Townsend wrote a book on the topic entitled: Boundaries, When to Say Yes – When to Say No. Both authors wrote another book on the topics for leaders -Boundaries for Leaders, Results Relationships and Being Ridiculously In Charge. I was asked this past year to give a “Theology On Tap” talk to a group of young adults (A copy of the presentation slides I used can be found below) and this was the theme at the top of their list to discuss from a practical and spiritual point of view.

More important than the fact that this seems to be such a germane topic in so many peoples lives, is the following question: WHY is this the case? I and more and more convinced that perhaps “less is more.” In my life, recently a number of meetings were canceled during this busy month of December. This freed up some time for some relaxation, rest and some extra prayer time. As a result I probably enjoyed one of the better Advents that I have had in quite a few years. I was even thinking of suggesting to the various organizations, groups and councils that, next year, if we as Catholic are really to model a counter-cultural life, lets cancel all “church meetings” during Advent and see what happens.

To integrate one’s professional personal and spiritual life, prayer and quiet and simply “wasting time with God” in front of the Blessed Sacrament (if possible) “still” remains the key (By “still” I mean for over the past, oh say 2,000 years) Maybe your Advent was a little too stressed, a little too busy, a little too active. Maybe that’s why the Christmas season doesn’t stop on December 26. We still have some time to waste in quiet with the Prince of PEACE.



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