The Secret to a Balanced Budget

    The words balance and budget are a natural pair—they should imply each other. Budgeting is all about finding balance between what comes in and what goes out. This is true in finance, energy consumption, diet and exercise, and work and rest. Balancing input and output is how you maintain a living system.

    People are up in arms these days about governments who have violated budgetary balance. Your family may be up in arms when you fail to balance work and family time. Your body will fail to operate well if you don’t respect the balances of calories in/calories out and activity/recovery.

    If we fail to consider balance, our systems break down. Then we’re forced to consider it.

    So what is the key to finding balance in life?

    It all begins with gaining a Big Picture view. A Big Picture view can see all the details and the larger context in which everything has its relative importance. Without a Big Picture view, you get lost in the details. You are consumed with one or more elements of the equation. You are caught up in the urgency of one particular need or demand without understanding how it fits in with the whole budget, or the whole life, or the whole health and well-being equation.

    For example, you might be consumed with work and neglect health and family. Or a politician might be consumed with pushing one special interest, such as the oil lobby, and neglect environmental impact. Or you might be obsessed with exercise and neglect rest and recovery.

    You gain a Big Picture view by stepping back from the details and adopting the viewpoint of a witness who can observe the whole scene. From that overview position you can then itemize the elements that are important. You can give them different weights and degrees of priority. Then you can organize a structure, a budget, or a schedule that has each important element represented in its appropriate amount.

    For example, in your personal budget you might step back and list every single thing that you spend money on. Sit down with your bank account and credit card statements and itemize everything. Then categorize your expenses and add up the totals in each category. From your Big Picture view, see if everything that is important to you is represented. Is there anything that you want to spend more time and money doing? What is actually not so high a priority that you can cut back on? Then, add up your total expenses.

    Look at your income. Is it more or less than your expenses? Given your priorities, do you want to spend more time making more money to exceed your expenses or do you want to cut expenses to match your income? You can go either way. Find your right balance.

    When you are able to adopt a Big Picture view it enables you to take in the whole situation, look at all the pieces, and put together a plan that works given your priorities. A Big Picture view enables you to itemize, prioritize, and organize.

    I don’t know if an entity as big and complex as a government has the capability to do this, but as an individual in your own life, you certainly can. If we all do this, perhaps it will carry over into the bigger organizations in our lives.

    Kevin

    Kevin Schoeninger

    P.S. The Power of Practice Program empowers you to discover and practice what is most important to you in the self-care, lifework, and community dimensions of your life.

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