It was a breezy October morning and I decided to squeeze in a bike ride before I saw my clients. There was a small window of time; before I arrived at the office I also had phone calls to return and a few tasks to complete. As is often the case, ever efficient, I decided to ride to the farm stand and get corn for dinner. I was riding quickly on this cool morning and since I was in a rush, I did not slow down when I was putting on my gloves. The next thing I knew, a fence post jumped in front of me and I crashed into it. Fortunately, my bike was unscathed but I cannot say the same thing for my body or my wicker basket.

Although I was shaken, I was in mild pain and decided to continue on to the farm stand. As I rode, I pondered what had occurred. If we use the bike ride as a metaphor for life, three things transpired to cause me to become “off balanced”. I felt pressured for time and was rushing. I was preoccupied about the things I had to accomplish before I went to the office. I was multitasking as I took both my hands off the handle bar while riding fast in order to put my gloves on. One of my strongest desires in life is to be “balanced” and I often write about it; I even use the bicycle as a symbol for balance. Clearly I was off balance that morning and I have decided to use this mishap as the inspiration for this month’s tip.

Let’s examine the three components that created the synergy for this perfect storm:
Pressured for time – I was being unrealistic about how much time it would take me to ride to the farm stand, come home do tasks and get ready for work. Because I was determine to do it all, I ignored reality and decided not only to ride but to go the extra mile to the farm stand. How often do you find yourself stressed and pressured for time because you are being unrealistic about all that you can achieve? When you are under stress, your boundaries weaken and you often become more unbalanced by taking even more on. If this is the case, the antidote is to take a deep breath and stop and become realistic about time constraints. Then look at your to do list and prioritize, simplify, delegate or remove some of the items on your agenda.

Preoccupied- I was engrossed in all that I had to do when I got home that my mind was racing about ways to accomplish it. As a result, I was not thinking about what I was actually doing; racing a bike at a fast speed. How often has this happened to you? Have you ever driven a car and realized that you already passed a particular landmark and do not remember seeing it? Or have you ever been “listening” to a friend and you have no idea what they really said? When this is the case, the antidote to preoccupation is to consciously let go of distractions, still your mind and decide to pay attention to what is going on at that moment. Recently, I began to play the piano again after a long hiatus. In order to play, I have to give my full attention to the notes and my hand position or I will make a mistake. This discipline is helping me stay fully in the moment. Are there any activities you can rekindle or begin that help you to practice staying focused in present?

Multitasking ¬– In order to put gloves on, I could not have any hands on the bike. I was so focused on being efficient and rushing that I was doing two mutually exclusive things at once and did not think of the absurdity of this behavior. When you find yourself multitasking, the antidote is to slow down and concentrate on the task at hand. Not only will you find that you are more relaxed and more productive, you will be more aware if a “fencepost” gets in your way

It has been three weeks since I lost my “balance” on my bike. I ended up dislocating a number of ribs and cracking one. I am in physical therapy. I have not been able to ride my bike or do any exercise since the accident. In addition, when I finally arrived at the farm stand that morning, it was closed! But ever the optimist, I chuckle as I look at the lesson that I learned. I realized that on that October morning, I was not practicing all that I preach. To put it simply, I was reminded that in order to stay balanced, I need to stay focused in the moment.

Name the factors that keep you “off balance”?

Keep your mind on your driving. Keep you hands on the wheel.”
(Lyrics "Seven Little Girls Sitting in the Back Seat")

Author's Bio: 

JoAnne is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker, who believes in the connection of emotional health to body, mind and spirit. She has integrated clinical counseling with holistic techniques and has formalized her knowledge by creating the Journey Back to Self program which is available in a recorded CD. In addition, in order to further assist others, she writes self improvement tips that you can find on Facebook or her website,