A wise man once said: life is like a circle. While I don’t know who that man was, or if it’s even a real quote, the truthfulness of the saying remains. Like everything in the natural world, life is cyclical; it’s always trying to get back to center.
The farther we get away from our natural center, the harder we try to subconsciously divert ourselves back. When people talk about the "natural order of the world” or “cyclicality," this is what they're saying: there’s a natural balance to everything, and regardless of if you’re a human or a plant, it’s your natural inclination to move back toward center.
But what is your center, and more importantly, where is it?
It’s easier than you think to find where your center lies. If you look back at your life linearly, it's not so much a straight line as it is an oscillating one, moving around and around a central point. It's almost like your life, although increasing in success, is moving upward yet constantly around a gravitational pull (oh no, another space reference??).
Rather than linear success, those who have a deep understanding of their center have spiral success:
It’s this upward spiral - sorry, I can’t draw in 3D…or draw spirals apparently - around our balanced center that causes a successful life that gives deep meaning to the person living it. Rather, let's say, than someone who seems “successful” by society’s standards, but has moved so far away from their balanced center that their success provides them with no greater purpose.
If you’ve moved too far from your balanced center, or have been unable to identify it, it causes your life to spiral out of control (pun intended), with no rhyme or reason. Whereas if you’re consistently moving up and around your center, you’re rewarded with a life full of purpose and passion.
When identifying your own balanced center, its a process of looking back throughout you life at key indicators of something your life has been circling.
For me, I’ve always loved to write (and sometimes I’m even good at it!). My mother will even tell you that when my parents moved me into the San Diego State dorms, I told her that “I’d never work in an office.” Oh, how I love blissful ignorance!
I declared a major in journalism, but quickly realized that writing was more of a passion of mine than a career choice. Ultimately, I didn’t want to live my life as some sports beat writer. So when society told me to get a “more practical major”, I switched to Finance, and graduated with a minor in Economics as well.
I did end up working in an office, and in fact, I’m in an office as I’m writing this. But, no matter what job I took, or what city I decided to live in, I always seemed to write (and like I said, wrote better some years than others). And even beyond writing, it’s been the idea generation and connections I’ve made through the content and promotion of my blog that's really driven me forward.
This is the balanced center from which my life spirals outward and upward. If I had all the money in the world, I’d still be waking up early, heading to a coffee shop (the more pretentious the better), and sitting down to write. No matter where I’ve been, where I am, or where I’m headed, I always come back to writing and what it represents.
Identify your balanced center by looking at what your life has revolved around. Has there been a specific passion that’s followed you throughout your life? If not, is there a common theme that links together your evolving passions? This theme, or core value, is the center of your life and is the root cause of your success; moving away from this center is the root cause of your failures.
Identifying your center is the first step to balance and taking true ownership of your life.
But, for every balance there is a counterbalance, and I’d be remiss if I stopped here without pointing it out. Sometimes the key to true center is to have a balance that is skewed one way, and have a counterbalance that is equally skewed in the opposite direction.
Using my example above, if writing is my true center, then maybe instead of pursuing that as a full time business venture, I can create a business that will afford me the time to hang out in pretentious coffee shops and write to my heart's content. A counterbalance to my balanced center of writing.
Using a different example, if your passion is rock climbing, don’t build a business selling rock climbing equipment for 12 hours a day. Rather, build a business that allows you the freedom to rock climb whenever you want.
The important thing is to define your center, so regardless of the strategy you use to stay balanced, you know that you’re cyclically and perpetually circling upward and around your balanced center.
Ever hear the saying, “the journey is the destination”? First off, this saying, like the one in the beginning, is 100% accurate. Secondly, finding your center, and then looking for ways to strengthen and increase you balance, is the true journey. Staying within balance throughout your life is the true destination.
When you’re able to find your balance, stay centered, and then increase the size and balance of your center through experiences, you are truly turning your passion into purpose. Then and only then, will you operate from a place of confidence that permeates through every part of your life.