Finding balance in life is tough, especially when you have to put food on the table and take care of your health and family. It seems like there’s hardly even any time for fun! It’s even more difficult when you’re trying to find out what areas of life to set goals in, especially if you have a lot of big aspirations like I do. But it is possible and I’ve found a way that works.
What you need to do is focus on just 4 bigger areas of life instead of a lot of smaller ones. Doing this makes you balanced, happy, and successful no matter what stage of life you’re at, from school to raising a family and beyond. These four areas to focus on for success are:
I refer to these as the 4 pillars of life because everything you do falls within one of them. Think about everything you’re working on right now and you’ll see that this is true.
They’re also pillars because they are like columns that support a successful life. As a civil engineer I’ve designed houses, and each time I have to include columns in my design. Without columns a house will fall. I have to design enough columns and make sure that each has enough strength to keep the house standing in snow, wind, and earthquakes.
These four areas of life provide that same necessary support, especially when outside forces like fear, worry, stress, or the negativity of the world try to tear down your success and happiness.
But when you’re balanced in all four of these areas, you can reach your full potential far more easily. And it’s not too difficult because improving your life in one area will boost the others up also!
“Faith is to believe what you do not see; the reward of this faith is to see what you believe.”
– Saint Augustine
Faith isn’t doesn’t mean religion. Some religious people don’t have much faith and some of the most faithful people aren’t religious.
Whether you realize it or not, you have faith, which is simply believing in something that you can’t see but that you’re confident in.
You have faith that the sun will rise, for example. Whenever you plant a seed, that is also faith because you can’t see or know that the seed will grow.
These are just examples, but you believe in bigger important things too, like that your business will succeed or that you can become a better person.
A better word for faith in this sense may be a vision for a better life and the hope that you can attain it. Whatever that best version of your life looks like for you, it won’t happen unless you first believe.
Look around you right now. Everything you see was once an idea in somebody’s head. They couldn’t physically see it, but they believed it would be real someday. They then planned and worked hard to make it happen. That’s faith.
For me, faith means belief in God. I’ve found that whenever people put a Higher Power first, whether it’s God or the universe, or something else, everything in their life works out in better ways than they could have ever imagined.
As Gordon Hinckley once said and I’ve found to be true in my life:
“I am satisfied that whenever a [person] has a true witness in [their] heart of the living reality of [God], all else will come together as it should.”
How to Grow Your Faith and Use it To Succeed
Faith for you might mean putting God first. But it could also mean having the vision for a better future, improving yourself, and trusting in and relying on a Higher Power.
Working on this area of life may include living your faith if you’re religious. That might mean attending church, studying the scriptures, prayer, meditation, and service.
If you’re not religious this category should still come first because your vision determines your destiny. It inspires success in every other pillar because you can’t reach somewhere new until you see it in your mind.
Vision is the starting point of all great things. As I said before, everything you see was planned out in somebody’s mind before it was real. They had faith, then it happened.
You have to do the same for everything you want to happen, whether it’s running a marathon, growing a business, getting a raise, or anything else.
To work on your faith if you’re not religious, read books that inspire you, make plans, and seek help from mentors and teachers of all kinds. Improve your ability to believe that good things are coming to you and they will.
Spend time alone each day and week building out your vision for a great life. What do you want? What does that look like, and how does it feel to get there? Meditate on this vision and then get to work on it and you’ll see it happen.
“Family and friendships are two of the greatest facilitators of happiness.”
– John C. Maxwell
According to research done by Harvard, social connections boost your health in countless ways. They’re so good for you that Harvard even considers them to be just as influential as eating healthy, adequate sleep, and avoiding smoking.
When you have strong relationships, you are also 50% less likely to die early.
So if you want to be healthy, you must have strong relationships. But how does it affect the other areas of life?
Let’s talk about finances first. When I got married, my expenses went up, but my income and even my tax breaks went up even more.
My family and friends have also shown me ways to earn more money, encouraged me to do so, and helped me along the way. When I lost my job, my wife was there to comfort me. Knowing we were in it together made it easier for me to quickly recover.
But what about faith? How do healthy relationships affect that pillar of life?
For me, faith and family are nearly inseparable. As a religious person, I count my duty to serve my family as almost equal to my relationship with God. As I take care of them, I grow closer to God and become more like Him.
My family members’ faith also strengthens my own. Growing our faith together is far easier than trying to grow it alone.
In terms of faith being the vision for a better future, my family provides this also. I know that even though my kids aren’t always easy right now, they will become my lifelong best friends as they grow older and I take care of them. I feel inspired to work hard and grow personally for them and for my wife.
Improving Your Relationships With Family and Friends
So far we’ve identified the following:
- Strong connections with family and friends will make you healthier
- Focusing on family and friends will make you more money
- Improving your relationships will help you have more faith
The only question left is, what is the best way to focus on family and friends? It depends on what stage of life you’re in. This brings up another benefit of these four areas of life to set goals in-you can adapt them for any part of life and use them to be successful and balanced.
If you’re in high school, family and friends might mean taking care of your siblings, helping your parents, and seeking good friends that lift you up instead of tear you down.
For those in college, your focus is on dating and laying the foundations of starting a family of your own. Friends are still important though as they can boost your performance in school, work, and every other aspect of life.
After college, once you have a family of your own, your spouse and children. Your goal should be to deepen your relationships with each individual in your immediate family. You can do this most effectively by focusing on the things you have in common with each other.
A couple of years ago I wanted to connect better with my son. I hoped to spend more time with him and realized that we both like hiking and watching movies. As we’ve started to do these things together more and now we’re becoming a lot closer.
Spending quality time with loved ones is vital at every stage. And whether you’re young or old, being kind, vulnerable, and humble toward others is the best way to develop deeper relationships with them.
“Education breeds confidence. Confidence breeds hope. Hope breeds peace.”
This area of life breaks down into three additional sub-categories:
You’ll be focusing on each with varying levels of intensity depending on which stage of life you’re in. While in college, for example, you’ll be focusing on education but will also need to manage work and money so you can pay rent and eat.
If you’ve ever struggled to make rent, then you know how important this category is for influencing all other areas of life. Financial stress puts strain on relationships, limits your willingness to stay fit, and can even negatively impact your faith.
I don’t want that for you though. When you balance all aspects of your life this one improves, but you need to focus on it individually to succeed.
In contrast to the anxiety-inducing effects of not having enough money, when you’ve got plenty, everything in life goes better.
You can buy nice things for your spouse and kids and spend more quality time with them on vacations.
You can purchase a gym membership or treadmill, get a nicer mattress, and afford healthier food to improve your fitness.
And financial stability is a form of self-reliance that’s necessary to your faith and lets you have enough to give money away and help others.
Boosting Your Education, Income, and Money Skills
It’s clear how finances, just like faith and family, can affect and improve all other aspects of your life. So where should you get started? The answer, just like with family, is that it depends on where you are, but balancing all three components is crucial at every step.
No matter where you are in life, however, these three components will always be vital if you want to succeed financially:
- Develop a love for learning and never stop doing it. Don’t just go to school to get grades or a job, actually learn, and find out what you love learning. Make this a lifelong pursuit and keep learning when you finish college.
- Read books like crazy and apply what they teach. It’s been said that if you read just three books on a subject you’ll become an expert on it and more intelligent than 99% of people. Start with Rich Dad Poor Dad, Think and Grow Rich, and The Total Money Makeover.
- Start a side hustle and stay consistent with it. I did this nearly three years ago now and I’ve never regretted it. That side income helped, and eventually turned into my full-time income when I unexpectedly lost my job. If you have a passion but are worried it won’t pay the bills, find a way to use the internet to make money with it. I guarantee it’s possible.
I’ve been doing all three of these recently and they’ve helped me double my income, survive unemployment, find work I actually enjoy, and so much more.
“Take care of your body. It’s the only place you have to live.”
– Jim Rohn
Just like with finances, fitness also comprises three smaller areas:
You don’t need to be overwhelmed by trying to master all three of these at once. Just begin with one and the others will improve also. And so will the other areas of your life.
When you’re healthy, well-rested, and eat right, your brain works better. You’re smarter, less stressed, and have lower chances of developing a disease. It protects you against mental illness, helps you focus, and boosts your confidence.
Can you imagine what it would be like to have all of those things? To have the energy to work hard every day and be smarter? It would be almost inevitable that you’d get a raise or even a better job and make more money!
Decreased stress would also help you have a better connection with your family and friends. The added energy lets you play with your kids longer and do more to help your spouse. Better mood regulation is another benefit of good health that can make it easier to smoothly handle all of the complexities of relationships.
How to Improve Your Physical Fitness
When it comes to working on your fitness, remember to just start with one of these three areas. Pick whichever one you’re struggling in the most and just begin.
Start with sleep. If you sleep less than 6 or 7 hours a night, you must start going to bed earlier and getting more rest. In the case that you’re good with sleep but don’t move very much, start going on more walks. And if your diet consists of a lot of fast food, cook more and you’ll be healthier.
Stay consistent and the other areas will improve also and you’ll see the positive effects give a boost to everything that you do.
As with finances, you can become an expert in all three of these areas of fitness by reading books. I’ve summarized over 250 non-fiction books, many of which were on fitness.
Here are my best book recommendations to help you improve in all three of these areas, and links to their summaries:
- The Blue Zones Solution
- Eat, Move, Sleep
- Why We Sleep
- Sleep Smarter
- The Joy of Movement
- The Power of Full Engagement
Get started today by clicking on the link above to read a summary of just one of these books. Then choose one principle from it that you can work on during the following week.
Use these 4 Areas of Life to Be Happy and Successful
We’ve covered a lot here. To recap, here are the 4 areas of life to set goals in:
It may seem daunting to think of setting goals and trying to improve every one of these areas of your life right now. But you don’t have to do it all immediately to see the benefits I’ve mentioned.
Just pick one of these four areas to set goals in and do one thing to improve it. Get really good at that one thing, then move on to the next area of life.
The easiest way to begin is by reading up on what you want to improve. So pick up one of the books I’ve recommended or find your own and just dive right in!
One last thing. While you’re working to improve your faith, family, finances, and fitness, don’t forget to have fun! Adding this element to each aspect of life will make it easier to succeed there and will make life a lot more enjoyable, too!
In all areas, you can introduce fun by focusing on what you’re good at in each one.
As you work on your faith, gaining a vision will naturally bring out what you enjoy. If you’re religious, utilize your strengths to improve your relationship with the Higher Power you believe in.
In your family, focus on what you have in common with your family members and it will be easier to spend time with them.
For finances, it’s best if you’re in a career that you enjoy if you want to be productive and make more money.
And when it comes to fitness, make exercise fun! You don’t have to become a runner to lose weight. If you love walking or dancing those will work just as well.
Whatever you choose to do, get started today and start finding balance, happiness, and success!