Positive Vibes — The Four Burners
John: I’ve talked about the Four Burners theory before, but I read another piece on it so let’s talk about it again. Imagine there’s an old stove in your house. It’s square and has four burners. You know, the kind where you still have to light the gas with a match and pull your hand away really fast so you don’t get burned. Each of those burners represents an important area of your life:
Now here comes the plot twist. According to the original New Yorker article:
“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.”
Ouch. That hurts. But it’s also true. If your friends ever accused you of “totally disappearing” into your relationship or you neglected your health in favor of work, you know what I’m talking about.
So which burners do you turn up? Which flames do you allow to die out? Sandy, Life consists entirely of trade offs. That will never change. It’s something we have to make peace with. How do we pick our trade offs for a certain time?
Sandy: Wow John, I think I have a problem with completely turning off any of these burners. I don’t believe that life is an all or nothing proposition. In my world it’s more about balance, moderation, and focusing on what the current situation requires.
For example, when you’re young, you might turn up the work burner so you can earn enough money to move out of your childhood home and become independent. Then, once you’ve accomplished that and it’s moving along well, you might turn up the family and friend burner to find a partner. The work burner is still on, but not turned up as high as the relationship one.
If finding a partner is successful and your family grows, you’ll then need to turn up that burner, especially if children come along. For several years the family burner will burn brightly, but as children grow and leave home, you can turn that burner down a bit (never off), and turn up friends and work again.
Of course health is always important, because if you don’t have that, everything else is a struggle. So you need to keep the health burner on at least medium flame, so you’ll be well enough to focus on the other three burners.
The work burner also has to continue burning so you have the funds to take care of the other three, but at certain times it doesn’t need to be the highest flame.
I believe it’s all about balancing and juggling, depending on where you are in life and what your current needs and goals are.
All four of these things, family, friends, health and work, are important aspects of a well-rounded life. You need to always keep all the flames going. Your current situation determines how high or low each one is.
Please comment so others can benefit from your wisdom and experience.
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