5/13/2024

May 13, 2024

Balance

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Lemme crack open a cold-hard-truth for you…there is no such thing as “Life Balance.”

In fact…not only does life balance not exist…it’s not even the right goal.

You don’t want balance. You think you do…but you really don’t.

Ask yourself truthfully - what do you really want?

Do you want millions in the bank?

Six pack abs?

Do you want to run 3 hour marathons on Saturdays and still have time to make pancakes with your two kids who are almost certainly named Brooklyn and Chloe?

Do you want to travel the world, finding the best tacos in every country, and putting them head-to-head in a march madness style 64-taco bracket?

…OK, maybe that last one’s just me.

But the point is - we all have a set of dreams. And it’s a set. You don’t just want one thing - you want ALL the things.

We don’t just want the career, or the relationship. We want both. And we worry - if I put 60 hours a week into winning the career game, will I start to lose the family game.

We want to have our confetti cake, and eat it too…oh, and the cake should be zero calories and someone else pays for it.

But saying “I want it all” sounds greedy. Sounds wrong. So that’s why some marketing genius started calling it “life balance”. Life balance is code for “I want everything”.

Well I’m here to tell you, that you CAN have everything (it’s just not called “balance”).

The problem with balance is that it’s the wrong tool for the job.

POV: You trying to have life balance:

Most of us have 5 “top priorities”.

Those become 5 hungry mouths to feed.

But you only have so much time & energy (or as Mark Manson says, you’ve only got so many f*cks to give).

But my mom reads these, so let’s not cuss, and call them “life points”. You only have so many “life points” to give (like a mental casserole of energy, time, money and attention).

That’s the problem. Everyday you have 100 life points, and so balance-seekers start rationing them out. But rationing sucks.

You’ll end up giving every area of your life 50% effort, so that nothing goes to 0% and nothing gets to 100%. A recipe for mediocrity & disappointment.

The ‘balance’ seekers are playing a zero-sum game. Constant trade-offs between work, family, fitness, friends and fun.

But fear not young grasshopper - there is a solution. A better way.

....so Door #1 equals “Balance” (living life with an expectation of balance)

This group is miserable, because Reality - Expectation = Unhappiness. They live most of their life feeling like they’re doing something wrong. Or worse, they adopt a victim mindset and start blaming ‘others’ for their lack of balance (the boss, the government, the system) 

Door #2 = “Zero Expectations” → This is slightly better.

These people just blast their life points at whatever matters right now. In their 20s its usually ‘fun’ & ‘work’. Then in their 30s they max out ‘family’ and ‘work’. And in their 60s they try to catchup on travel and health.

It’s still a zero sum game, but at least these people are happier.

Fortunately, there’s a third door.

The third door is “integration”.

This is what the winners of life do. The people who have it all. The money, the body, the family, the fun, the peace of mind (oh and by the way, you rarely hear from these people, they’re not the ones bragging on social media. They’re too busy living an awesome life).

So why integration over balance?

Instead of choosing between “Health OR Friends” → you go hiking with friends (and get both).

Instead of choosing “Work OR Fun” → you pick a career where you genuinely enjoy doing the work (you don’t dread Mondays).

Instead of choosing “Career OR Family” → you build a career where you get paid for results (rather than your hourly time), so you can make a ton of money, and have the freedom of time to spend with family.

Here are some of the integrations I’ve done in my life: 

Health & Friends
I work out with my buddy John every morning. I play basketball with friends 1x a week. And when people ask me for coffee meetings, I ask them if they’re up for a hike/walk/workout together instead (btw - this builds relationships much faster too. Having a shared struggle/workout experience)

Friends & Work
Most of my friends are other entrepreneurs, so when we’re hanging out, we often shoot the shit about our companies or investments. So I’m always getting good marketing, operations, or investment ideas from them.

Wife & Work
I started a business with my wife, we’ve now built a ~$25M company together, so instead of choosing between “time with wife” vs. work - I integrated both together (warning, this only works because my wife is a badass business partner to have. She’s smart, and down(link). And most importantly, we learned how to ‘turn it off’ so that we’re still life partners and not just business partners. That’s probably a whole separate blog post. This can be disastrous if done wrong).

Fun & Health
This is a simple one - Instead of just grinding at the gym alone, I play in a basketball league once a week, and I workout with my buddies, so my workouts are a fun part of my day.

I could go on and on, but you get the idea: Integration multiplies your time. We all have ~16 waking hours a day, but when you use 1 hour to fill up 3 life buckets – you’ve multiplied your time.

The biggest one is probably work. Most people spend 8 hours a day at work. And if work is something you:

  • Don’t enjoy (not fun) 
  • Don’t do with people you like (not filling your friends bucket) 
  • Doesn’t give you freedom of time/schedule

Then it’s going to be very hard to integrate your life. It’s like a power outlet in the wall, without holes, so nothing else can plug in.

I’ll explain how I did it in my life:

I had a job for 1 year, but  I didn’t like it because (1) I was getting paid for my time, not my results. Even though they’d say all the right things about being ‘results driven’, they failed the time test. The time test is this: if you came to work for an hour, then closed your laptop and left, having done as much work as your co-worker who sits there for 8 hours - Would your boss be mad at you or your coworker? 99% of jobs, they’d be mad at you, when they should be mad at the unproductive co-worker.

Then I tried being an entrepreneur (and failed a bunch) for 8 years. But I knew this was a good path because:

  • I enjoyed doing it. I never knew which day of the week it was, which is a green flag (not yearning for a weekend). 
  • I loved my team. My friends were my coworkers (integrated) 
  • If I hit it big (spoiler, I failed for 8 years straight), I would get total financial freedom forever.

Then - I met two people who inspired me to make a change. Ok that’s a lie. When I met them - I didn’t feel inspired, I felt jealous as hell. 

I felt like they had cheat codes for life.

The first guy was an investor. His job was basically to meet the smartest, most ambitious entrepreneurs in the world. The dude basically got paid to go to lunch with smart dudes.

And for every 20 people he’d meet- he’d pick one and sell them money. Unlike most jobs, where you’re asking customers to give you money. Investors do the opposite, their job is to give away money. They get paid to do it!

And most investors are on a 2/20 model. That means every year they take 2% of the funds as fees (so on a $50M fund, they’ll take $1M a year as a fee, for 10 years straight). And then 20% of profits, which can be in the hundreds of millions.

Wow.

The second guy made me even more jealous. I bought tickets to a fireside chat with Tim Ferriss. I was blown away, nearly 1,000 people bought tickets, to come hear this guy’s thoughts. There was no music, no pyrotechnics. Just him sitting in a chair, talking out loud, sharing his thoughts.

So I set my targets on that. After I sold my company, I decided to skip doing another company - and instead decided to become a podcaster & investor.

I had zero podcasting skills or experience, and a small bankroll as an investor. But now that I knew ‘cheat codes’ to career existed, I was going to go for that. I said no to every job offer or term sheet to start a new company.

I told people: I’m now a podcaster & investor. (I’m going to get paid for my thoughts, and to give away money)

Fast forward 4 years, and that’s my life now.

I have a podcast (My First Million) where I basically call my buddy Sam, and shoot-the-shit about business for an hour.

Halfway through, I pause, and tell people to go use Hubspot’s CRM. That’s it. I get paid more money than I ever dreamt of, to do something I’d do for free.

As an investor, the smartest entrepreneurs call me and tell me what the future looks like, and that they’re going to do all the hard work, but I get a piece of the upside if I give them some cash.

Not only are these fun, but they give me total control over my time. Remember the power outlet analogy where there’s no holes to plug into? Now I’m like a power strip. I’m swiss cheese. I’m putt putt golf, I got holes everywhere. This makes it easy to live an integrated life.

I don’t know what your version of “content & investing” is for you, but it’s worth chasing.

Maybe the ‘work that feels like play’ to you is writing books (like Ryan Holiday), or ‘teaching people how to code’’ or ‘owning a gym’. You gotta find your thing.

Find a thing that:

  • you’d do as a hobby, and you can’t believe you can get paid for it
  • where you get paid for results, not for time-in-chair
  • where the best people get paid 10x or 100x more than the avg (this is almost everything. The best plumbers, chefs, doctors, etc.. get paid 10X-100X more than the average person in their field) 
  • gives you control over your schedule

That’s the big unlock. If you find that, then you can do integration, and never need balance.

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