A Balanced Life is for Losers

This is part one of a two part series. Read part two: “How to Invest Your Time and Energy or Maximum Success.”

Are you looking for more balance in your life? Of course you are. Pick up your favorite popular magazine or turn on the TV and you’ll learn how to create a balanced life in “Five Easy Steps.” Before you sign up for the workshop or purchase the new book that promises to reveal the secrets of a balanced life, I’d like to let you in on the one dirty little secret they’ll never reveal … a balanced life is for losers.

One of the main tenets of investing is asset allocation. As an investment advisor, I divvy up my clients’ assets into different types of investments — spreading the risk, and as we’ll see, the return, among different asset classes. The result is a portfolio of many different kinds of investments categorized in colorful pie charts by sophisticated sounding asset classes, such as “emerging market local currency bonds.” It’s quite impressive looking. But as I tell my clients, asset allocation is for losers.

If I could predict the future and know with certainty which asset class would perform the best, I would reduce the once-multicolored pie chart to a single color representing the one investment that would perform the best. But short of a crystal ball or insider trading, nobody knows which investment will generate the very best return. So, we allocate assets across different categories in order to limit the chance of picking the wrong investment. It’s a strategy to limit risk but also limits returns.

What does this have to do with you creating aricher life? Whether you’re conscious of it or not, you do the same thing in your life. Instead of spreading money across different investments, you spread your time and energy among the different areas of your life. A balanced life is one where you spread your resources evenly; however, in order to get the best possible “return,” you need to make a bigger bet in at least one area of your life.

So what does this look like in the real world? Consider the world-renowned concert pianist who was approached by a young admirer after an incredible performance. “I would give my life to play like you,” gushed the boy. “I have,” declared the pianist. If you want to achieve superstar success, it takes much more than hard work — it takes sacrifice. An investment over here means there is less to invest over there.

But we’ve all seen what this can look like when taken to the extreme — the workaholic that sacrifices health, family and social relationships to a company to achieve financial success — but this is not what I’m advocating. There is a middle ground between the marginality of balancing your time across all of the areas of your life and the obsessional fixation of investing everything in one area.

Your homework over the next week is to gauge your current level of happiness in the areas of your life including health, social, family, career, financial and personal goals by assigning each area a number between 1 and 100. A score of one means you are miserable in this area, and a score of 100 means you couldn’t be happier. Next week, you’ll take your scores and learn how to best invest your resources to avoid the mediocrity of a balanced life.

(Balance Scale image by winnifredxoxo,CC 2.0)

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Turid K.
Past Member 5 years ago

I deeply disagree with anyone that call someone else a "loser".
It disrespectful,and show your lack of empaty and in ,lack of knowledge and education.

Dale Overall

Balance helps bring a certain amount of tranquil times in life, not everything is about winning and losing. Some risk taking is necessary for balance but one does not always have to worry about being a winner or a loser. Just take time to smell the roses, lavender and the Spice Of Life!

Teresa Wlosowicz
Teresa W5 years ago


Mary B.
Mary B5 years ago

I consider 'ballance' more of a gliding first one way, then another so you keep catching the currents so to speak, with the purpose being to stay in a zone of personal comfort and control over your own life.
I don't interpret ballance as going to the center and staying there.To me, that would be stagnation.

Myriam G.
Myriam G5 years ago

I can understand why some comments disagree with this article. The title itself seems to have been designed to shock people, and so is the constant reminder that living is like investing money, and to get a "richer life", we have to throw balance out the window. What next, we have to find a good broker...?

I tried to understand the sentence; "A balanced life is one where you spread your resources evenly", and I still can't. Does that mean that, for instance, someone trying to live a balanced life would spend as much resource on their dog as on their child, so they would put money aside to send the dog to University? Then, I understand why the author would think that balance is for losers, but then again, I don't think this is balance.

As a dancer, I struggled for a long time to get good balance, and I'm still working on it. It's super important in my daily activities, and when I see my aging father struggle to keep his balance despite his arthritis, I can't help but think that balance is a treasure. To me, balance is a way to reach harmony in life, and I relish harmony more than money. Sorry, but I don't think I'll complete the assignment.

Jen Zen
Jen carmody5 years ago

Why so many hateful comments??? I think what this article trys to get at, is that balance doesn't allways mean that every aspect of one's life has to have equal input or energy applied to it in order to create balance and the best "return"... at least that's what I took from it... maybe i'm wrong...

Silas Garrett
Silas Garrett5 years ago

Interesting perspective. I see a lot of vitriol in the comments, I can see where this is coming from, and it makes sense.

Robert Hardy
Robert Hardy5 years ago

Thank you

Jennifer Walsh
Jennifer Walsh5 years ago

great, thanks

Beverly G.
bev g5 years ago