“Life Balance” is a Crock

What does…

A pot of gold at the end of a rainbow

A "functional" family

And "life balance"

… all have in common?

They all sound neato, but none of them really exist.

As a follow-up to the Forgotten “Secrets” to Success and our decline of hard work ethic, one of the great misnomers I continually hear touted by toga-wearing “life coaches” is the idea of “life balance”. It’s malarkey (love that word!).There is no such thing. Just like everyone comes from a “dysfunctional family” (every family is dysfunctional – it has people in it), everyone’s life is also out of balance. Pursuing this illusion is only going to frustrate you (causing you to be even more imbalanced… and a little insane). Every life is out of balance; that’s life… and what happens in life? Shitake happens! And you have to ebb and flow with the changing tides, the shifting winds, the weather, the seasons, oncoming obstacles, etc. Life is in a constant state of flux. There are times when you need all hands on deck for tacking the boat to avoid collision and there are other times when you can go hang out in the galley and play cards with the boat on autopilot. Through it all you are always going to be changing the priority of your time and attention. You will always be off kilter and shifting your balance. Now don’t start throwing your meditation mats at me; of course we can’t sacrifice everything for the sake of any one thing. We have to constantly keep up our health, relationships, finances, spirituality and nurture of self during and through it all. But here is what I see happening: This illusive concept of “life balance” is making us feel guilty about everything all the time. Why? Because it’s not possible, it doesn’t exist, it’s not the way it works, thus all it does is take us off course and make us feel like failures. We keep chasing rainbows frustrated that we never seem to get to the pot of gold.

There was a period in my life where I thought I was an incredibly dull and an overly intense person. I didn’t have a hobby and I felt bad about it. I liked to do a lot of things, but didn’t love to do anything, except work. I went on a hobby hunt. Seriously, I proactively searched and attempted various hobbies – golf, tennis, mountain biking, road biking, photography, basketball, surfing, fishing, hiking, kayaking, running, etc. While I liked them all, I didn’t love any of them. My criterion was, What do I love doing that I would get up at 4 a.m. to do? This is what friends of mine do to hunt, fish, golf, surf, etc. In the end, I decided, the only thing I would willingly get up at 4 a.m. to do is to work… and you know what – that is OK! My hobby is work. I would rather be creating, building and advancing my (business) passions than any other hobby. Now I still do all those activities above, but here is the key: I no longer feel guilty for being “out of balance” to some illusive definition.

Show me one person who has had “life balance” all their life and is also an extraordinary business and financial success. Don’t state the guy or gal who made a bunch of money and now vacations four months a year. I’m talking about during the building process (there is always a freak exception, but I am talking about the rule). Take a look at our cover profiles: Robert and Kim Kiyosaki, Donald Trump, Dr. Oz, Tony Hawk, Donny Deutsch, Tony Robbins, General Colin Powell, Suze Orman, Lance Armstrong, Richard Branson, David Foster, etc. I doubt any of you work as hard as those guys and gals.

I like how Robert Kiyosaki explained it when I asked him about this concept: Life is like walking. Only when you stand still are you balanced. To walk forward you have to throw your body forward, become imbalanced; then it is up to you to kick your leg under yourself to catch your fall, one step at a time. The very act of walking is a constant fall, constant imbalance. You have to become imbalanced to move forward.

Here is the key distinction: Everyone above does have life balance. Why? Because I define life balance not as the number of hours separated from work, but rather the number of hours you utilize your life force to do what you love doing, what is exhilarating and fulfilling to your soul. If you hate work and love golf, then unless you are a professional golfer, you are going to be “out of balance” a lot of your life. Summary of the key points I am driving at: 1) Life is going to require an imbalance of time in certain areas of your life at different times throughout your life; don’t fret and get all in a ball about your lack of “life balance.” 2) Redefine “balance” as doing the things you love, even if it’s “working.” Oh, and 3) If you don’t love your work (you do it because you have to eat), you are never going to achieve a feeling of balance… and life’s always gonna kind of suck for you. Try finding work you love.


Darren Hardy is the former publisher of SUCCESS magazine, an entrepreneur and New York Times best-selling author of The Compound Effect and Living Your Best Year Ever: A Proven Formula for Achieving Big Goals.

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