For a long time now there has been a growing wave of authors and experts, yogis, and gurus preaching a balanced life. You know the pitch, work, family, spirt, leisure in equal measure. Sounds good, but the fact is, it’s a total bullshit strategy for business or personal success!
I have never believed much in the concept of a balanced life, perhaps for a decade when my kids were young there was some, but my wife may argue that. There comes a point in life where your biological clock is ticking faster and rather than slowing down you feel the urge to speed up, to do more while you still have the strength and health to enjoy them. This can start to cause problems with others who don’t share your need for speed or your urges to go walkabout.
I love to travel, so does my wife, BUT my wife also has three horses, three dogs, stables, seven acres and a big house to look after. When she goes on vacation someone else has to look after them. Someone has to get paid, and that someone is never someone my wife fully trusts. Even when we do travel together I want to play golf, she wants to sightsee and I’m good with doing that a little but if I find a place, I am quite happy staying and playing golf.
I’d be perfectly happy traveling the world living in hotels or Airbnb. In fact, I do this five months of the year already. I don’t want the expense of a ranch, yet my wife wants the security of a place she calls home. There are plenty of heated discussions about how much I work (a lot when home), but we have a high-flying lifestyle and if I don’t work, I don’t get paid. Sure, I could retire now and live comfortably by not paying for a ranch and an office, six months on the road with someone looking after the animals while funding my retirement. Just as for most families, something has to give but what will it be?
As in business or war, you need a guiding strategy as to what is truly important in your life. What you REALLY want and what you must give up in order to achieve those goals. Because, my friends, you must always give something up to achieve anything great!
What most people describe as balance is just a weak compromise that achieves very little for either party. Trying for balance will not create amazing experiences or exceptional results, it will create mediocrity. That’s why it was a badge of honor in the early days at Apple and Microsoft not to take a day off for months at a time. You may not agree with this, but you cannot disagree that both companies achieved something exceptional. And on the plus side, all those early employees did become millionaires, although that was hardly guaranteed at the time!
Sure, some things can and should be balanced, like your diet, but you cannot balance too many aspects of your life and still expect to reach key goals. Balance means compromise and too many compromises weakens your strategy and delays or entirely sabotages reaching your objectives.
If you work this weekend you will make money, if you go out on your friend’s boat you will not. If you work Saturday and take Sunday off, you will miss one day of fun and add one day of income. Is that balanced? Most people would call that balanced, but I’d call a seriously compromised strategy. Do you want to have fun or do you want to make money? Are you trying to pay off that credit card or run it up with gas, beer, and food for the boat?
• Should you watch an action movie or read a book that will enhance your skills?
• Work out or hang out?
• Spend some time on social media or learn a new language?
• Buy those shoes on sale or buy a couple more shares on Ameritrade for your retirement?
• Do you want to take five years to get a degree or three and get a two years head start on your peers?
• Do you need the 470 calories in that cake or would that banana be better?
You are faced with these types of questions every day and the more you look for balance in your decisions, the less likely you are to achieve your stated goals. I am not saying you should not look for balance is some aspects of your life, but you have to be all in on some things!
When I was in my twenties, I worked three restaurant jobs to save enough money to go back to the UK and play golf all summer on the amateur tour. This usually meant working 70 plus hours a week. When I came back every year, I started again from scratch and had to go looking for a new job. Then I’d work for another eight months so I could take the summer off next year. It wasn’t at all balanced. I took every shift I could get and never called in sick, but I still had fun after work, still took some classes in school, and hit enough balls to keep my golf game in decent shape (My kids both work in restaurants and seem to think that the concept of working 40 or 50 hours is slave labor).
In the summer, I did no work, none, zero. I had the entire summer to focus only on my golf. There was no balance and no compromise to this strategy, but I would not trade it for the world. I had three to four glorious months off a year while my peers got just two weeks off if they were lucky. I could focus all my effort on my game not turn my effort on and off at the weekend or on an occasional day off, so I could focus on my passion all summer long!
Once you are clear on your goals and the strategies for achieving them, you must have the self-discipline not to compromise. Don’t seek balance, decide what you want from life and take decisive action for victory!
Want to find out more about the bullshit that is balance? Check out Million Dollar Laptop!