by Niall Doherty

You’re probably like me.

You’ve tried and failed so many times to have perfectly balanced days or weeks, where you aim to do a little bit of everything, try to make progress on a dozen different goals and stay on top of several separate tasks all at the same time.

Meditation, stretching, strength training, diet, family, work, writing, editing, language learning, reading, social, romance, email…

And that’s just the stuff you figured you had time for! Relegated to the back burner are things like triathlon training, public speaking practice, learning a musical instrument, organizing a flash mob, reaching out to mentors, going to visit your grandma, volunteering… a list a mile long.

If any of that sounds familiar, you’re falling into a common trap, one I struggled with myself for a long time. I used to think of work/life balance in the same way, trying to achieve those perfectly balanced days and weeks.

But then I had a realization that rocked my world in all kinds of fantastic ways.

I’ll share that realization with you in a minute, but first, check out my plan for the six weeks I have left here in Hong Kong:

  • Get up no later than 5:30 a.m. every morning.
  • Run steps and perform core and pull-up workout first thing, Monday-Friday.
  • Take Krav Maga classes twice weekly.
  • Relentlessly test different business ideas, aiming to build additional income streams.
  • Finish Wood Egg research project.
  • Launch entrepreneur interview series on Renaissance TV.

In short, I’m aiming to focus almost exclusively on business and fitness until I skip town at the end of September. I’m not leaving much time for social activities, touristy stuff, or anything else.

Business and fitness. Business and fitness. Business and fitness.

That’s it.

Sounds pretty intense and unbalanced, right?

Well here’s that realization I had. It came via Sean Ogle:

Realize there doesn’t ALWAYS have to be a good balance. This is HUGE and something many people will not understand. In order to achieve the perfect work/life balance over the long term, you’ll face times where there is a significant lack of balance. You may have a few months leading up to a major product launch where you work 12 hours a day 7 days a week. Sure that isn’t sustainable over the long term, but hell, you’re building a business! Sacrifice has to be made. The sooner you accept that as your reality, the sooner you’ll stop stressing out about it and start making stuff happen.

That said, it goes both ways. There could also be times where you take two weeks off and hardly think about work. Enjoy that time, don’t stress, and relish in the fact that you’ve earned it, and that it’s part of your lifestyle.

That was a huge aha for me!

I realized that trying to do a little bit of everything consistently was a recipe for disaster. A much smarter approach is to focus intensely on one or two projects at a time, for a few weeks or months at a time. Then you step back, reevaluate your priorities, and start into another stretch.

(Of course, there are some things you always want to keep a handle on. For me, it’s important to keep my diet pretty clean, exercise regularly, keep in touch with friends and family, and get lots of sleep. That’s not to say I do a perfect job in each of those areas every day or week, but I know if I keeping dropping one of those balls for too long, everything else suffers.)

After I’m done here in Hong Kong, I’ll spend most of October traveling back down to Thailand and hanging out with family. I’ll use that time to relax and think about out which projects I want to focus on for the final few months of the year.

How’s your balance?

Are you focused on one or two things right now, or are you running all over the place trying to keep multiple plates spinning?

Hit reply in your email or leave a comment.

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