I hate to tell you this, but you may be bankrupt. You’ve been withdrawing from your accounts regularly, and your deposits have been infrequent and small.
You may have almost nothing left, and soon you could be beyond any hope of recovery. By the way, I’m not referring to your financial status. I’m referring to your life.
Impossible? Then how about submitting to an audit? Choose one role in your life that is truly important to you, such as your role as a spouse, a parent or a friend. Write the name of this role, such as Scott’s dad or Donna’s husband, at the top of a blank page. Now, draw a line down the center of the paper. This is your balance sheet.
On the left side of the page, list everything you’ve done in the past month that made a deposit in this account. Deposits can range from small things, such as expressing appreciation or sending a card, to remembering your wedding anniversary with a special gift to your spouse.
But the key to this side of the balance sheet is that each entry must be emotionally meaningful to the recipient. If it doesn’t matter to the person who is the focus of this role, it doesn’t count.
Now, on the right side of the page, list all the things you did in the past month that represented withdrawals. If you broke a promise or said something in anger that was hurtful, you made an obvious withdrawal. You must list not only the things you did, but also the things you didn’t do. This is tough, because withdrawals of omission are hard to face.
For example, are you consistently adding hours at work and missing time with the people you care about? Note a withdrawal. Are you absent even when you’re present, such as checking your BlackBerry while one of your children is talking to you or thinking about a problem at work while trying to appear interested in your spouse’s needs? Note another withdrawal.
What about emotionally? Are you able to recognize your team’s achievements at the office, but unable to verbalize genuine passion and emotion with your loved ones? Do you hold back when you really want to say “I’m proud of you” or “I love you”?
If you have the courage to note all of these withdrawals on your balance sheet, you will get a true picture of your life, perhaps for the first time. One of the harshest realities we must face is that the cost of the things we didn’t do can outweigh the value of the things we did.
If this exercise reveals that your balance is not what you thought it was or indicates that you are headed for a crisis, don’t despair. You can still build a deep reserve of meaning and fulfillment in every area of your life. You just can’t do it overnight.
The key is to begin making consistent investments over time. If your finances were depleted, you couldn’t restore them in a single deposit. The same is true in your life. But you can decide today to begin decreasing your withdrawals, and increasing your deposits, however small they may be.
Remember also that some deposits have an emotional value that is disproportionate to the effort involved. Writing a heartfelt note or giving someone an hour of your completely undivided attention are gifts whose value far exceed their cost. Over time, these deposits are not only cumulative but are compounded by the impact of consistently demonstrating how much you care.
Are you overdue for an audit? Start today to invest in your life. You’ll be glad you did.
Jim Huling is CEO of MATRIX Resources Inc., an IT services company that was recently recognized as one of the 25 Best Small Companies to Work For in America by the Great Place to Work Institute. Reach Huling at Jim_Huling@MatrixResources.com or (770) 677-2400.