An elite athlete must have a number of physical and mental abilities in order to dominate the competition. One of these abilities is balance. Although it is obvious that balance, in the physical sense, greatly contributes to success on the playing field, achieving a general “life balance” is just as critical. Usually the same drive that allows us to push ourselves and compete day in day out also pushes us to take on many activities, jobs and responsibilities at once.
At some point in our lives, we’ve all taken part in the juggling act that is life and have felt overwhelmed by it. We always demand more of ourselves. We compete. We are “doers“. We achieve and we do it all, not because our parents, friends, coaches, or teachers want us to, but because we can’t live without the challenge or the feeling of trying something new. Since we are overachievers, we must also be mindful of how easy it is to overload ourselves with too many activities and focus too much attention on one or two tasks. One of the best pieces of advice that I have ever received revolves around this exact topic; balance. The advice was that no matter what was going on in life, you MUST always maintain the 5 Fs to create a healthy balance. The 5 Fs are as follows:
FAITH – No matter what your beliefs are, make sure you satisfy your needs for a spiritual life whether it’s attending service, discussing your beliefs with loved ones, praying alone, or simply taking some quiet time for yourself to reflect on the day. Although often times faith is associated with religion, it doesn’t necessarily have to be experienced in that manner.
FAMILY – Never, under any circumstances, neglect your family. They are the most important people in your life. They are why you are here and why you have the opportunities you have. Always be respectful and show them the love they deserve.
FRIENDS – After family, your friends are the second most important support structure for your life. Make sure you set aside time to just “hang out” and enjoy yourself. All work and no play makes us very boring people.
FITNESS – Of course, a well balanced, healthy life can not be lived without exercise. This is where strength & conditioning and sports come into play. Whether a child or an adult, novice or expert, this is an absolute must. It’s also key in helping us burn off some of the frustrations that other parts of our lives bring into the mix. I’ve never worked out and not felt better afterwards. Unfortunately, this is often the first activity that is sacrificed in an overloaded schedule.
FOOD – Sometimes when we are busy, we forget to eat and eat healthy. If you are working hard at your job, at school, on the field and in the weight room, you need to fuel your body for success. If you are expending a lot of energy, you need to ingest healthy sources of fuel and get them in at the right time. Like my college coach used to tell us, “your body is a machine, like a new sports car“. If you want it to give you the best performance, you need to feed it the premium grade fuel, not the cheap stuff that will just get you by. As athletes, we must aim to eat 5 – 6 small meals a day, with each meal containing protein, carbohydrates, and fats in order to sustain our level of activity and remain mentally sharp. I can’t tell you how many times that I’ve become so involved in a task that I’m doing at work that I forget to eat. By the time I realize that I haven’t had food in me for four or five hours, it’s already too late. I feel famished, weaker, and less focused.
When I look back on my personal experiences, the times I got myself in trouble were the times that I overloaded myself with work responsibilities and neglected one or more of the 5 Fs. For example, before I found my passion for teaching, coaching, and strength & conditioning, I attended law school for a semester. While in school, I was so set on overachieving and doing my work well, I stopped going to church like I normally would, I ate less frequently because “I didn’t have time” I only worked out once or twice a week for thirty minutes if I had time, and didn’t really hang out with my friends or family too much because I was on a tight schedule. After a couple of weeks following this routine, I became very bitter, frustrated, weak, and energy-less. I was miserable. Don’t allow this to happen to you.
Nothing is so important that you can’t take out time in your day or week for each of the 5 Fs. Even though I sometimes speak about them exclusively, we often can do more than one at a time. You can work out with friends. You can go to service with family. You can eat healthy while at work or while you complete your school assignments. Whatever you do, don’t cut out these very important aspects from your life. They are critical to your future success and are vital to helping you achieve your potential.