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Balance. This one word can mean several things to different folks. For me, balance is what I’m trying to achieve in my personal life, and my business life. The line between the two tends to blur most of the time. I have obvious boundaries, but Old Oak is a part of who I am. I approach it like I do anything else in my life with as much heart, hard work, and passion as I can give it. But I’ve learned, and honestly I’m still learning, that I can’t forsake any other part of my life and go overboard in another if I want to keep my sanity. I also can’t do this and expect the other areas and relationships in my life to be healthy and continue to grow in a positive way. It’s an endeavor that is ripe with challenges, hiccups, setbacks, and the need to step back, adjust and try again. And that’s where balance is key.

Our primary industry, premium cigars and pipes, is a luxury industry. It’s important to balance those things in our life with healthy, more practically important elements to our overall health. The old saying, “too much of a good thing is a bad thing” applies here. My goal this year is to spread more of my focus and effort to my physical health. That may mean a few less cigars throughout the week so I can spend 30-45 minutes a day at the home gym or on the rower so that I can get and keep my body in better shape, improve my cardiovascular system, lung function, weight control, metabolism and even my mental health. Cigars and pipes are a great way to take some time out of my day to slow down and focus on my thoughts, a good book, some writing, etc. And on the opposite side of the same coin, making sure I take time to focus on my physical health will also benefit me mentally. I know that if I prioritize that time working out, I’ll feel more organized throughout the day. I’ll also gain a sense of accomplishment and increased confidence in myself and what I’m trying to accomplish with the rest of my time. 

Part of finding balance is also sifting through things in my life and removing those that are sabotaging my efforts. This could be letting go of a side hustle that isn’t producing and may need to wait for a better opportunity. It could be decluttering my house of things that I don’t need, can’t wear, don’t ever have time for and are ultimately collecting dust. I’ve found this to be huge for my mental health. When I go on vacation for a week somewhere, I typically have less “things” around to distract me from what I’ve wanted more time for like family, friends, that book I’ve been staring at on my shelf for 6 months (or years), exercise, more time in the sun and breathing fresh air, etc. It’s usually an incredible feeling of being able to free my mind of stress and FOMO. Usually, all that ends the day I get home and I’m once again surrounded by all the things in my life that aren’t really important to me but still occupy space in my head and feed that feeling of too much to do, too many options to decide from, too much to maintain or keep clean just for the sake of owning them. Yeah, I can fall into paralysis by analysis faster than most. 

So this year, I’m going to evaluate my “things” and my endeavors to let go of what’s ultimately getting in the way of being a better version of myself. We don’t have long on this side of life, and at 47, I’m no longer interested in spreading myself so thin that I have no time to take care of myself and those that matter most to me. Work hard. That’s important. Work harder sometimes when it’s necessary. But, don’t burn that candle at both ends too long. You’ll fizzle out fast and be no good to anyone.

Balance out the “have to” with the “need to” (there’s a difference). And don’t ever feel guilty for slowing down some in life. It’s not a sin. And it’s so important for you to breathe, think, and find the solid ground of contentment.