Have you ever ridden an emotional roller coaster? When things go right, you are happy and cheerful. But when things go wrong, you feel terrible and frustrated. An emotional roller coaster takes you either high or low.
If you ever experience it, you know how bad it is. You’re standing on an unstable ground where you don’t know what will happen next. Something unexpected could suddenly break your day. Riding an emotional roller coaster will drain your mental energy.
Why does it happen? Looking at my life, one major cause is the unbalance state of our mental portfolio.
Let’s compare it with investing. In investing, you have an investment portfolio which comprises of many types of investments. Your portfolio may consist of large-cap stocks, small-cap stocks, bonds, and other types of investment. It becomes unbalanced when one (or two) type of investments become disproportionately high. Let’s say that 90% of your portfolio consists of small-cap stocks. In such a situation, the performance of your portfolio is very much determined by the performance of small-cap stocks. If they perform well, your entire portfolio will perform well. But if they aren’t, your entire portfolio will suffer.
In investing, such an unbalanced portfolio is not recommended. Why? Because a single bad event could ruin your portfolio. That’s why one important advice is not to put all your eggs in one basket. You should diversify your portfolio. For example, if you have four types of investment, you may aim to own 25% of each. This way, when something bad happens to one type of investment, the rest of the portfolio can act as a cushion that minimizes the impact. Your investment will have much more stable performance this way.
The same thing applies to your mental energy. If your mental portfolio is dominated by one type of issue, then your feeling will be unstable. Your feeling may go down and up easily. You are riding an emotional roller coaster that drains your mental energy.
I have such an experience myself. A few months ago, I checked the stats of this blog many times a day. It occupied a relatively big portion of my mind. When something went right, I could be very happy, but when something went wrong (which often happens in blogging, at least for me) the opposite happened. I was riding a mental roller-coaster.
In the last few months, however, I check my blog’s stats just once a day. The mental fluctuation is much less now since it occupies smaller portion of my mind. I may reduce my stats-checking frequency even further later.
Can you see a pattern here? The more something occupies your mind, the greater its share of your mental portfolio. When one or two things dominate your mental portfolio, you are riding an emotional roller coaster.
Then what is the solution? The solution is to balance your life by diversifying your mental portfolio. Just like you should diversify your investment portfolio, you should also diversify your mental portfolio. Here are some tips to do that:
1. Find other projects or activities to spend your time on
When you spend most of your time on only one thing, it’s easy to become obsessed with it. So find something else to also spend your time on. It doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t focus on one thing – focus is always important. What it means is you should avoid crossing the line from being focused to being obsessed.
One good solution is to have a side project. For example, you could build a side business or join a social organization in a cause you care.
2. Check your performance less frequently
The more often you check your performance, the more your performance occupies your mental portfolio. As I said above, it happens to me when I checked my blog stats multiple times a day. If you check your performance less frequently, its effect on your feeling will be much less.
3. Maintain a social life
Having a social life is essential to balance your life. Relationships have an irreplaceable place in our life since we are social being. If you neglect it, not only does your mental portfolio become unbalanced, but also you miss an essential element for your mental portfolio. Find quality time with your spouse, family, and friends. Get involved in a community.
4. Disconnect your self worth from your performance
Sometimes we ride an emotional roller coaster because we determine our self worth by our performance. When our performance is good, we feel valuable, but when our performance is bad we feel the opposite. This kind of feeling makes your mental portfolio unbalanced. It’s essential to disconnect your sense of worth from your performance. You are worthy not because of how good you perform, but because of who you are. You are unique, you bring something into the world nobody else can. When you disconnect your self worth from your performance, your feeling will be much less affected by your performance.
Diversifying mental portfolio is essential to balance life. Don’t put all your eggs in one basket.
Do you have thoughts regarding this? I would love to hear them.
Photo by CarbonNYC
Great post, Donald! It’s so true that if you put all your eggs in one basket and that basket gets crushed, you’ve every reason to be sorely disappointed. However, putting one egg each in a different basket — and having as many eggs as you can safely watch in the different baskets is a sound strategy. Here are some eggs that should be each carefully tended in different baskets, in no particular order:
7. Personal Development
8. Creative Pursuits
If there is a temporary setback in any one of these areas (or even a few at one time) you will still have so many good things in your life that it’s hard to feel too bad for too long. : )
I, too, realized that looking at my stats was hurting me instead of helping me. I am in a business so it’s important to analyze sometimes, but for now I’m just looking at my stats like once every other week or so.
I love the way you dissect life into ten eggs/baskets 🙂 You’re right, if we keep the balance of all those, no single setback can affect us for long.
I agree that we sometimes need to analyze. What we need to do is to find a balance so that checking stats doesn’t distract us from doing productive things. That’s what happened to me.
[…] “How to Balance Life Through Mental Portfolio” at Life Optimizer –how to get off the emotional roller coaster and balance our lives […]
I like the idea of diversifying where I’m investing my mental energy. One item you highlight is the data-check – its good and bad side. For me, I’m trying to work the data-check into one daily review and one weekly review with the idea of reviewing how I’m doing, and, then to plan from there … it’s a personal homework structure. The other arena that you touch upon is ‘contact-withdrawal’, the time invested with a project being balanced by the time away from a project. Doing so, should allow for ‘fresh’ and ‘renewed’ energies to be brought to each project. In all this it’s about finding the personal equation that works, right?
Yes, you’re right. What works for me may be different from what works for you. We must find the balance ourselves.
Donald, great article! Recently I’m also investing my time more on some other things such as relationships and actions.
I’m putting lower priority in blogging, as i shared earlier, to “eat” more.
The challenge is.. how to keep giving your best, while you’re balancing it with some other mental portfolio.
We have similar experience but it seems that you have diversified more than me.
In my opinion, one condition to be able to keep giving our best is not to spread ourselves too thin.
[…] public links >> cushion How to Balance Life Through Mental Portfolio Saved by jeremiahmoore on Wed 24-12-2008 Serial Saved by davidfrechette on Fri 19-12-2008 Jack […]
[…] it’s easy to be disappointed when things don’t go as expected. You put yourself in an emotional roller-coaster that drains your mental energy. On the other hand, by focusing on contribution you keep your mental […]
Comments are closed.