Much of mainstream wellness advice revolves around creating a “balanced life.” There are phrases like “work-life balance,” “balanced diet”, and “balance of power.” All of these are considered positive culturally and worth striving for.
When it comes to balance in your own life, though, this advice can lead one astray. A life worth living is making choices — which means each person is going to weigh things differently. “Balance” implies that you need at least a decent amount of everything … but the reality is that you need to clearly make choices on important things that you are going to skimp on.
I’ve met a lot of people in my life. I’ve never met one that was “balanced.” Everyone, absolutely everyone, is weighted in the areas they care more about. That’s natural. That’s good.
Some people weigh their lives towards their kids. They give up their job, their personal dreams, and often their friendships to focus on their kids. These people are not balanced. They are weighted. They have made the decision that the best use of their time is to focus on their kids. That’s their choice.
Other people dedicate their lives to helping others in need. They sacrifice their own family and sometimes their own health for the “greater good.”
Everyone makes sacrifices. Everyone makes choices.
None of these people are balanced because no one is balanced. We all make choices. We all weigh our lives in directions that we think is best. And sometimes we change those weights as we mature. And often we are wrong about the best weights. Balance, while sounding nice, is both impossible and undesirable to achieve.
Balance makes a person mediocre at a lot of things instead of great at only a few.
Culturally, we are pressured to improve in areas of deficiency in the pursuit of an imaginary “balance.” There’s no one out there screaming at us to get better at what we are already good at.
“Self-help” is a $10-billion industry. There are life-coaches, consultants, mentors, business-coaches and the like all helping people improve their personal and professional weaknesses. The reason so many people focus on their weaknesses is that it is much easier for others to point out weaknesses and give some tips on how to improve than to help you get better at your strengths.
Even customary employee performance reviews revolve around identifying areas of weakness in an employee, with the subsequent goal to improve in those areas.Continue reading