The Illusion of Balance

Do you strive for a balanced life? What does a balanced life look like to you? Zig Ziglar’s Wheel of Life is a good representation of a balanced life. It identifies seven areas of life we should pay attention to. Our wheel will be flat if we neglect any of these areas, giving us a bumpy ride.

zig ziglar wheel of life

I believe balance is important. The Wheel of Life has strongly influenced how I set my goals and prioritize my time.

However, I believe the way we look at balance can cause us to miss the mark. To me, the illusion of balance is not that balance isn’t important or possible. The illusion is that we have to be (or even can be) perfectly balanced every day.

Our ideal day may be to wake up early for exercise (physical) followed by prayer or meditation (spiritual). We go to work and make a valuable contribution (career) with a break to have lunch with a friend (social). On the way home we think about picking up dinner to go, but we first check our carefully-planned budget (financial). We eat dinner as a family, followed by games or talking (family). After the kids are in bed we read a good book (intellectual).

It’s a great day - we nailed all seven areas of life! Not a bad ideal to shoot for.

I don’t know about you, but most of my days don’t go like this. And I think that’s okay. We don’t have to be balanced every day or even every week to live a balanced life.

So what does a balanced life look like?

Balance over time

To me, it’s about balance over time. The acceptable time period will be different for everyone and for each area of life. Only you know how long you can neglect an area before the damage becomes difficult to repair.

Life has its seasons.

Having a new baby or caring for a sick family member may lead you to spend more time on family and less time on socializing, working, or exercising for a season.

A demanding work project might take you away from your family for a few weeks. Most families will be fine, knowing the project is temporary. However, the damage to your family may not be worth the career advancement if neglect turns into the norm.

To be balanced over time requires us to be intentional. Prioritizing and setting goals can help us find balance over time:


A leader in my church gave an address titled Good, Better, Best. He encourages us to consider what is good, better, and best in our lives and prioritize accordingly. Sometimes good is the enemy of best.

I wrote a post reviewing the book The ONE Thing by Gary Keller and Jay Papasan. The authors ask, “What’s the one thing I can do such that by doing it everything else I do will be easier or unnecessary?”

To me, physical health, including exercise and nutrition, is The ONE Thing that gives me the energy and clarity of mind I need to perform my best in other areas of my life.

Set Goals

I wrote about my goal-setting process here and how I work towards goals here.

We can decide what our priorities are, set goals that move us toward our priorities, and evaluate our progress.

Finding balance in our lives over time requires us to be intentional about our actions.

Question: How do you find balance in your life?