What is “balance”? New research conducted by Janus Henderson Investors, the Financial Planning Association and Investopedia shows that 65% of advisors feel that maintaining a reasonable balance between work and life was their most common challenge and stressor. But what is balance and how is it measured?

If you were asked the question, “What is your most valuable resource?” what would you say? Time, most likely. It’s the only thing we can’t make more of and once it’s up, it’s up. So if time is our most valuable resource then balance must be an equal distribution of time. Right?

Wrong. Think for a moment. We’re all given the same 1,440 minutes in each day, but some individuals seem to be able to accomplish more, at a higher quality, with more focus and a greater force than others, all while maintaining a healthy and happy life.

The answer is simple. The most critical and valuable resource we have as human beings is not time, but rather our energy. Time management can only take you from being physically absent to physically present. Energy management is what gets you to be fully, mentally present. If you’re experiencing negative stress that’s keeping you from becoming your best self and living your best life - and our research shows that’s likely – the problem is likely that you’ve been mismanaging your energy investments.

We can break these down into four dimensions:

  1. Physical – The quantity of energy we possess to fuel the body and mind
  2. Emotional – The quality of energy we give to manage our thoughts and feelings
  3. Mental – The focus of energy we engage to organize our lives and center our attention
  4. Spiritual – The force of energy we apply to complete our mission and purpose

Striving for Balance

Perfect balance – an equal distribution of ourselves to all of our responsibilities all of the time – is unattainable. I spoke with Jack Groppel, the co-founder of the Johnson & Johnson Human Performance Institute, about this idea. If perfect life balance isn’t attainable, what is?

His answer was illumintaing: “life integration and oscillation.” While we try to compartmentalize our personal and professional lives, our environment doesn’t allow for true bifurcation. Focusing on integrating those two lives, rather than striving to balance them, allows us to blend of the two worlds into one human, thus allowing that individual to activate a flow state of being. 

So what does it all mean? If we want to change the narrative of negative work/life stress due to poor energy management we need to understand and live the following:

  • Managing your physical, emotional, mental and spiritual energy is key to becoming your best self. Making regular investments into each of the four dimensions allows you to create new capacity in all areas. 
  • The oscillation between stress and recovery is critical for growth in all four energy dimensions. Stress is the stimulus for growth and recovery is where growth occurs. If there is no recovery, there is no growth.
  • We are all creatures of habit. Whether you are completely happy or totally miserable, we are all where we are because 95% of our actions are non-conscious and automatic. If we want to change our situation we need to know where we want to go, accept and acknowledge where we are currently, then develop new purposeful rituals that will turn into habits that support our ultimate mission.  

Personal change doesn’t just happen: there is no little pill, no magic wand. There’s only purpose, truth, action and energy management.

For more resources on how to combat stress and to download the full study, visit www.janushenderson.com/thewaronstress

Lindsay Troxell is a Director, Knowledge Labs™ Professional Development at Janus Henderson Investors. She provides extensive consulting, training and practice management expertise to financial advisors. Ms. Troxell is a sought-after coach and keynote speaker. She leverages her experience as a financial advisor, G2 firm leader and executive management consultant to bring insight and intentional disruption ideas to clients, enabling them to differentiate themselves and better serve investors.