Miami entrepreneur Anis Blemur lost it all in 2008, sideswiped by the recession. But it proved fortunate: As he picked himself back up, he discovered what he believes is the formula for a successful, balanced life.
Born in Haiti, Mr. Blemur moved to the United States at the age of 19 in search of the American Dream. Realtor, financial adviser, and accountant, he built a successful career. But then he reached too far at the wrong time, taking over a lease-to-own radio station aimed at Haitian expatriates. When his co-investors couldn't come through with the money, he was overwhelmed by the $70,000 (U.S.) monthly rental payments. His wife left him, and he was a broken man. "I wanted to run away. I had debts I couldn't meet. I had to rebalance my life," he says.
He clearly had to clean up the financial mess. He needed to better educate himself on how to make a living in a different economy. He had to reinvigorate his emotional life. And he found himself praying a lot, seeking spiritual help.
As things started to come together again, he realized those four elements of his personal odyssey were the crucial ingredients of a balanced life. "A balanced life is a life in which you have not only your finances balanced but also your spiritual life balanced, your emotional life balanced, and your educational life balanced," he says.
To him, it was like a marvellous potion, and he has now become an evangelist, writing a book called A Balanced Life, promoting the ideas with his financial planning clients, and even waxing grandiosely about how his formula could put his battered native country back on its feet. "The life you have is up to you! You have power in your decisions. You need to pay attention instead of sailing along in life," he declares.
He likes to talk about the four elements as if they were a clock, with a quarter of the day devoted to each element. "Each element needs to be balanced within themselves and then they have to be balanced with each other," he says.
Education is not limited to what you learn in school. It's about how you prepare for and operate in life. Are you prepared when you go to a job interview, for example? Education is not a matter of knowing everything, but understanding the areas where knowledge is important and getting that knowledge. Education is a vital foundation of a balanced life because it helps you improve in the other three areas: Learning more can help you gain greater financial security, understand the complications of your emotional life, and forge a more spiritual existence.
For a balanced life you have to stop and untangle your emotions, figuring out how they affect the rest of your life. An important element of your emotional life is your love life. "An emotional person is someone who lets emotion, love, or passion control the rest of his life," he says. "You do not have direct control over your emotions, but you need to control how you react to them. Otherwise you will end up with a life that is out of control."
We all know the importance of having balance in our financial life, rather than being in debt and unable to pursue the life we want. He says it's simple to achieve: Budget yourself, cut your expenses to get some cash to work with, cut down on debt while building your savings, and give to help others.
He argues when we are sleeping our spiritual side is controlling the body, sending messages through our dreams. He points to the fact studies show that people who engage in spiritual activity live longer, are happier and healthier, and even make more money. But too much devotion to religion, he stresses, can create an imbalance. You can't just study the Bible, you need a profession; you would be unwise to quit your job and leave everything to God's will. "Life wasn't meant to be lived on a solely spiritual level. That's what heaven – and the afterlife – is for," he says.
When a couple comes to him interested in buying a home, he sees the interplay of the four elements of a balanced life. One may say to the other, "Honey, I like that house," indicating the emotional, while then other asks, "Do we have the money for it?" They might decide to sleep on it – tapping their spiritual side – and then educate themselves by getting an expert to advise them on the physical condition of the house.
Haiti is a country of desperate poverty and illiteracy. Men have many wives and mistresses – and children. Voodoo and magic have a powerful influence spiritually. Only by thinking how to improve on the four elements he touts can that country improve itself, he believes.
That's a tall order. But restoring his own life to balance seemed like a tall order a few years ago, and thanks to a focus on education, emotions, finances, and the spirit he has rebounded – and fervently believes everyone can.