Living a balanced life is a state of well-being I've always aimed for. Sometimes I have been successful and sometimes I have failed miserably.

To achieve balance, I've learned, requires attention and work, much like a beloved garden or an important relationship.

Shortly after graduating from university, my first boss threw some books at me and encouraged me to obtain my insurance qualification.

Not having started a family yet, it was the perfect time to study. With a passion for playing squash, life was nicely balanced between career, studying and fitness.

At 27, I became the only woman in my company to hold a managerial position. In 1970s Bermuda, there was greater pay inequality amongst the sexes and, as a woman, I was determined to prove myself.

I became pregnant and gave birth to a son, Angelo Michael. I would read to him every night, fall asleep beside him, then get up at 10pm and work until 1am. With hindsight, it's easy to see how unbalanced life was, but I was driven and that made perspective harder to come by.

In the early 1980s I had my second son, Christopher, and stayed home for a year - revelling in the peace I felt. When our boys were young, I negotiated flexible work conditions to be home with them after school.

My priorities in the 1980s were family, work, friends and volunteering, though I'll confess I neglected my physical fitness. I never put myself first; I would have felt selfish if I did.

When my six-year-old son, Christopher, was diagnosed with diabetes in 1990, I was forced to rebalance and reprioritize my life.

I resigned from nearly all outside interests to focus on Christopher and on my family.

In the early 1990s, I attended Stephen Covey's course, 'The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People'.

There I learned a profound truth - that to care for others, I first must care for myself. I began to give my health and emotional well-being higher priority and allowed the feeling of selfishness to fall away.

One of Dr. Covey's seven habits is to begin with the end in mind, so I developed long-term goals that I still embrace today.

The first is to raise responsible, caring sons for whom my daughters-in law will one day wish to thank me. The second goal - everything in moderation. The third goal is to live my life with no regrets.

In 2000, Chris graduated from The Berkeley Institute, we purchased an insulin pump and he headed for boarding school. Work had been hectic and, in addition, I spent the year successfully promoting legislation to ban smoking from public places in Bermuda.

That's when a case of pneumonia arrived to remind me that I couldn't do it all.

Once well again, I set my sights on the gym, on meditation and on the avoidance of multi-tasking.

Although not without its day-to-day challenges, life was better balanced. Balanced, that is, until the day Christopher died in his sleep from a diabetic coma. Our lives were shattered.

Quite frankly, I thought I could never endure the loss of my son and, save our friends, my husband and I might not have. Friendships were (and are) my strength, my blessing and a lifeline when life careens out of control.

We need to leave this world a better place. Generation X may well have it right. They aren't as career driven as their parents, they value their personal time and time with friends. They seek balance. They begin with the end in mind.

I am trying to do the same.

Joy Pimental is executive vice president of marketing with the Argus Group.