You can’t have it all

I have recently been asking myself some big questions. The real big ones, like what do I want out of life, and who am I as a person? They are the questions, that when answered honestly, make us uncomfortable. Many people have asked these questions before me and many more people will ask themselves these questions after I am gone. I don’t think I have figured the answers out yet, but I do feel like I am making progress.

The themes that I generally explore fall into 4 areas. Family, Health and Fitness, Work, and Social Life. These are areas where I want to be my best self. These are the areas where I want to be successful. From my life experience, it seems to me like there are a lot of other people who put their time and effort into these quadrants or something similar. As I was swimming around in these concepts trying to solve the labyrinth I had a line of thinking that lead me to a question and to another question and so on until the thought in my head was this…

Is it even possible to be the best at every section all at once? Can we reach an extreme level of success in all of these areas at the same time?

I have seen many writers communicate this idea before. Many write about what is called the 4 burners theory. My favorite take on it is from James Clear ( I think it may even be his theory), you can see his article here.

To sum up his thesis, no, you can’t be successful in all areas. To really turn up the success in one area you must turn down another. If you want great success you can only run 3 burners, if you want extreme success you can only run 2.

So, I began to think, is this true? Just because someone wrote in on the internet doesn’t mean squat. The merits of the claim and evidence have to be examined. So, I started to do just that. I have begun to slowly turn down my burners. I am have been eliminating things from my life that detract from the activities that lead to my vision of success. Instead of trying to pack as much as I can into my time I began to unpack. I began to make decisions that force me to say NO. No to going out. No to staying up late. No to consuming media. No to poor food choices. No to indifference. No to all activities that don’t help me make progress.

I will be the first to admit that I am no savant in this endeavor. I fail all the time. I try to say no but end up saying yes and doing it anyway. But that’s ok. It creates a learning opportunity and I am aware of the slip-up. This gives me the opportunity correct the mistake and make the right choice the next time.

So, what are my results?

One word. AMAZING. Eliminating as much of the unnecessary as possible has been extremely rewarding and beneficial. I feel I am more successful now that I have ever been. Relationships are more rewarding. I am making more gains in my fitness than I have in years. My work performance is maximizing. I am all around happier and more content.

I have dialed way down what I am willing to do, turning down the burners. Now I only focus on the things that truly matter. It has made a difference so impactful in my life I will never go back to the old way. I am getting more out of life by focusing on less. Try it out for 30 days yourself, but be careful you might never be the old you again.




One Comment Add yours

  1. tracymartin says:

    Hi Chris, I too am finding that if I want traction in a certain part of my life then I have to get all four of my wheels so to speak moving in that same direction. It’s an interesting perspective to add that we have to turn down some while turning up the ones we want to burn the hottest. Thanks for sharing this perspective.

    Liked by 1 person

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