The Greater Fool is someone with the perfect blend of self-delusion and ego to think that he can succeed where others have failed. Future is made by greater fools.
7. Do you believe in work-life balance?
7. Do you believe in work-life balance?

7. Do you believe in work-life balance?

Do you believe in work-life balance?

Between 2015 & early-2016, while running my startup Travel Jar, I was working on avg 12-14 hours a day, 7 days a week. Missing social events & parties were usual. Nothing that I complain about, as I was working out of my passion and desire to create this amazing product for others, and I enjoyed every bit of it. 

But since closing my startup, and starting working as an employee, this has been a very fundamental question in my mind. How much time should I give to my professional life? Is career everything? What about friends? Can I afford to neglect health in my 20’s? What about giving time to myself and my hobbies?

Different Ways

I came across different views to think about work-life balance:

First: one can equally be valuable and productive, even if you work fewer hours, and that there is no need to work extra. In fact, there are studies demonstrating more productivity with fewer hours (as recently tried by Microsoft in Japan by employing 4-days a week office.)

Second: the 10,000-hour rule. You can become an expert at anything if you spend 10,000 hours on that skill. So basically only when you work more, you grow.

I chose Balance

But most of my career, I forced myself to maintain a balance between my professional life and my personal life. So I would limit myself to a max of 8 hours a day, even push my teammates to follow the same. I would give ample time to my family & friends. I would do things that would make me happy. Like traveling, partying, sports, even lazing around.

But I could see my friends and colleagues working extra hours and long nights for that promotion. Or to get a good rating. Or maybe just to complete that under-estimated project.

Yes, they would sacrifice things like traveling, making friends, exercising, giving time to their family, etc, but I am sure they can make a good argument that they are at a much better place professionally because of that hustle & sacrifice. (Like what I did in my startup)

Four Burners Theory

This became a see-saw for me until I came across this piece by James Clear: Four Burners Theory

I highly recommend you read this piece. (I cannot explain it in a better way)

To summarise, it says to imagine your life represented by 4 burners on a stove as shown below with each of them a major quadrant of your life: Health, work, family, and friends.

The Four Burners Theory says that “in order to be successful you have to cut off one of your burners. And in order to be really successful, you have to cut off two.

No one size fits all

After reading this, I have accepted that life is filled with tradeoffs. And that one cannot have everything all the time. In order to excel at one aspect of my life (health/career/relationships), I need to let another suffer. And that there is no right or wrong, it varies from person to person.

Now I have my priorities which keep changing according to the phase of my life.

  • It’s been health & family for a couple of years, and I am fully dedicated to that, with my career taking the back seat.
  • Soon I will switch to focussing on my career again, with friends/family taking a hit.

But as long as I am clear with my priorities, I need not worry about making those choices.

Which burners can you cut off? Looking forward to the comments. 


  1. Shekhar

    Tricky question with no universally right answer. Because all 4 burners are important in different ways, and depends on each other.

    So rotating wheel of focus should work for most people.

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