The Art Of Achieving Balance

While we all know there is no such thing as a unicorn, that does not stop us from writing stories, creating cartoons, and other fairy tales about them. Nor is there concrete evidence that the Loch Ness Monster exists, and yet that tale persists. I have a friend who believes that he has seen Sasquatch. I would also add the concept of Time Management to this list of things that do not exist, yet people continue to dwell on it.

I firmly believe that time management is an illusion that a great many people pursue, but like a cloud in the sky, can be seen but never touched. I state this as an affirmation because I know that time simply cannot be managed. We can prioritize and micro-schedule, but we all receive the same 24 hours each day, the same 168 hours each week. Sixty seconds to each minute, sixty minutes to each hour. It is a law, and like all laws of nature and man, needs to be respected. Success follows when we are obedient to laws over which we have no control.

I recently had a conversation with a producer who spent 25 minutes lamenting at how poor he is at time management. After listening to him ramble (his choice of words) for those 25 minutes, he ceased and it was my turn. I immediately pointed out to him that he had referenced “time management” some seven times in those 25 minutes, and that he should not be so self-deprecating because of an inability to manage something as illusory as time. I shared with him that we have as much chance of managing time as we do of touching a cloud. “Once upon a time” I sat on the modern miracle of a jet plane, looked out the window at approaching cloud banks, and realized that, as we were flying into them and through them, there is never any tangible contact. Yes there is condensation on the outer surface of the plane, but for the passengers it is largely an illusion.

At the conclusion of my agent session I made that suggestion to him that, rather than attempting to manage something that is simply unmanageable, he would be better served if he focused his efforts to achieve happiness and success by attaining balance in his life and being proactive rather than unbalanced and reactive.

A series of conversations with this same producer, as well as several others, led me to share that achieving balance in one’s life is really a series of choices that we must make every day, to wit:

  • It is about organization, not about making excuses.
  • It is about exercising discipline and being diligent.
  • It is about avoiding a state of inertia and rising above it.
  • It is about prioritizing our activities, not managing the time.
  • It is about never uttering “I’m sorry” when it comes to owning your business.

A long term care advocate can be successful by working an honest 40 hours per week. Yes, you heard it right. Not 60 or 80 hours, but only 40. An honest, yes, there is that word again, 40 hours will make an advocate successful at the Leading Producer level if he or she employs the above tools.

  • It is about working smarter not harder.
  • It is about creating and maintaining balance in the various spheres that comprise our lives—family, professional, personal, spiritual, physical, recreational.
  • It is about maximizing—not managing—the 168 hours that we are granted each week.
  • It is about focus.

Some life lessons gleaned over the years
More than a few years ago I learned, “Focus on everything is focus on nothing.” You simply cannot spread yourself so thin and expect to remain focused enough to accomplish anything at a level equating to success. That is a formula for mediocrity.

Second, what is your time worth? Only you can assess this and assign a value. It is important to remember and to discipline yourself so as not to chase meaningless opportunities.

Third, it is about answering the question: “Am I investing my time, or merely spending it?” Time invested in an activity such as reading to your grandchildren or family history and genealogy would surely trump the time spent playing Fortnight or spending hours on Facebook or Pinterest. Sorry, I am neither a gamer nor a social media junkie.

Simple math:

  • 40 hours of work (five eight-hour days or four 10-hour days—it does not matter) broken down as follows:
    • Four hours education (workshops, webinars, conference calls, self-study).
    • Five hours marketing.
    • Eight hours scheduling appoints.
    • 20 hours of appointments.
    • Three hours of administration.
  • 49 hours of sleep (achieving the optimal seven hours per night).
  • Six hours of physical exercise (six one-hour sessions Monday-Saturday).
  • Seven hours of personal spiritual time (one hour daily—scriptures, prayers).
  • Three hours of church worship.
  • Seven hours of service (extended family, neighbors, friends).
  • 14 hours of recreation (two hours daily).
  • Eight hours date night with significant other (Friday and Saturday).
  • 21 hours of family time (for those who do not have immediate family, this could be phone, Skype, FaceTime, letter writing, etc.).
  • Four hours of maintenance and housekeeping.

Leaves a reserve reservoir of nine hours, and we were generous with some of the above allocations.

These categories can be combined: A family activity that involves hiking or skiing would encompass family time, recreation, physical exercise, etc.

You work for yourself, which means that you are primarily accountable to yourself. To this end, the first question that you must ask, and answer, is: “Would you have hired you in the first place?” Follow up questions should then include, “Are you measuring up?” “Would you not fire you based on your current performance if it was coming from someone else?”

Remember that when performance is measured it improves. When it is measured consistently, it improves exponentially. So, stop managing something that is not manageable and focus on the greatest resource you have in your possession: You.

“All good performance starts with clear goals.” —Ken Blanchard.

Don Levin, JD, MPA, CLF, CSA, LTCP, CLTC, is chairman of the board of the National Long Term Care Network and the managing general agent of PNW Insurance Services, a national brokerage which offers long term care insurance, short term recovery care, life insurance and annuities to the general public across the country. The long term care planning specialists and staff of PNWIS are proud to offer comprehensive individualized planning solutions to their clients while also working through a strategic alliance of financial planners, estate planning and elder law attorneys, CPAs, and other businesses and organizations.

Levin has been in the long term care industry since 1999, during which time he has been an award-winning agent, district manager, regional sales manager, marketing director, associate general agent, general agent, and divisional vice president. Levin is also a former practicing Attorney-at-Law, court-appointed arbitrator and is a retired U.S. Army officer.

In addition to his various law and life and health insurance licenses, and the above designations, Levin has also earned Green Belt certification through GE’s Six Sigma program, and is a graduate of GAMA International’s Essentials of Leadership and Management. He has also taught Managing Goal Achievement®, Integrity Selling® and The Way to Wealth® to hundreds of leaders and salespeople over the past fifteen years. He previously possessed FINRA Series 7, 24, and 66 licenses.

Levin earned his Juris Doctor from The John Marshall Law School, his MPA, from the University of Oklahoma, and his BA from the University of Illinois-Chicago. He is also a graduate of the U.S. Army Command and General Staff College and the Defense Strategy Course, U.S. Army War College.

He is a published author of nine books in a wide range of genre.

Levin may be reached via telephone at (509) 348-0206. Email: dlevin@pnwis.com.