You’ve probably heard of the “Sales Funnel.” The concept of a sales funnel is very straight forward. You need to do a certain amount of marketing to get the attention of a large number of “suspects.” Some percentage of these will become prospects.
As you work on the prospects, provide quotes for service, etc., some percentage of these will become hot prospects. You will produce a number of proposals. From these, a certain percentage will eventually buy your product or service.
If you want to make regular sales, you need to keep churning out proposals. To get to the request-for-proposal stage, you need to keep building a network of prospects. Those prospects come from your network of suspects.
The bottom line is simple: you have to work to keep the funnel full. When you take a break from filling the funnel, that wave of activity will work its way through the funnel and some day there will be a period of no sales. So, no matter what else is going on, you need to keep that sales funnel full.
Just as businesses have a sales funnel, individuals have a Balance Funnel. The mix of things you put into the funnel determines the mix that comes out.
If you only fill your funnel with work, then work is what you’ll get. If you add some activities for your church, your family, and time for yourself, then the “output” will be more balanced.
Filling the balance funnel is not really a choice. It will be filled with the activities you have committed yourself to. Or, if you haven’t committed, then it will be filled with whatever you happen to be doing out of habit. Think of this funnel as the result of your daily planner. If you put nothing on the calendar, the funnel will result in unproductive activity such as watching television.
To produce a balanced output, you need to schedule time for the things that are important to you. This includes yourself. Remember, you’re going to see positive results in whatever you put your attention on. If you put your attention on work, you’ll be better at work. If you put your attention on your spouse, you’ll be a better spouse. If you put your attention on volunteering, you’ll be a better member of the community.
If you put a balance of activities (and non-activities) into the funnel, then you will get a balance as your daily result.
When we become unbalanced — stressed out, exhausted, and burned out — it’s because some time back we stopped putting a balance of activities into the funnel. We see two major examples of this all the time. The first is work. Some people become so obsessed with work that they don’t focus on anything else.
You can’t put 99% of your energy into your work and then one day turn to your family and say “I’m here for you.” Your family’s not going to sit around waiting for you to turn your attention to them. They have lives to lead and they will proceed without you.
If you want to turn to your family and have strong relationships, you need to keep putting “family” into the funnel. Give them time and give them attention. Be in their lives and they will be in yours.
The second example of unbalanced behavior is the total lack of planning. Many people make no effort to plan the future — even the next hour. So when they stop and look for something to do, there’s nothing there. In most cases, they either turn on the television or start browsing the internet to waste their time.
Being bored and doing meaningless activities is fine once in a while. But it’s not really a way of life. It results in filling your life with meaningless activity. After all, if that’s what you focus on, that’s what you’ll get good at.
You’ve heard it before: You will only reap what you sow. If you plant the seeds of balance, then you’ll have balance. If you plant the seeds of work, then you’ll have work.
The very good news is that you have total control over the process. Every day you get to decide what goes into the funnel. You can schedule a date with someone important, arrange for a vacation, set aside time to help at the church. And so forth.
It’s difficult to force balance into your life. You have to start adding balance at the top of the funnel and be patient as it works its way through. After all, you’ve filled the funnel with activities that need to filter through. Just as there’s a time lag in the sales funnel, there’s a time lag in the balance funnel.
So you can begin today to plan ahead. Plan a variety of activities. Each different type of activity also adds variety — or balance. As your new variety of activities works its way through your balance funnel, the eventual result will be a balanced life. You get out of it what you put into it.
“Habit is a cable; we weave a thread of it each day, and at last we cannot break it.”
— Horace Mann