4 Ways To Feel Yourself Back Into “Balance”

So You Can Experience What Matters Most

Just about everyone talks about wanting more “work-life balance”. What you don’t hear much talk about are practical tools and approaches for getting it. That’s unfortunate because there are many.

I’ve written a number of posts about Nash and Steven’s  model of enduring success, a more realistic model than “balance”. Unfortunately, I’ve never had an easy way to know which of the 4 categories they say matter most that I needed to be focusing on. Focusing on in the moment.

After reading Eric Barker’s new book Barking Up the Wrong Tree: The Surprising Science Behind Why Everything You Know About Success Is (Mostly) Wrong, I’m happy to say that’s changed. His feeling-based heuristic for knowing where you at with these 4 at any given time is both simple and effective.  I know because I’ve put it to the test, both on family vacations as well as at work.


These are the 4 metrics found to matter most in achieving enduring success:

  • Happiness (feelings of pleasure or contentment about life).
  • Achievement (accomplishments that compare favorably against goals others have striven to achieve).
  • Significance (sense of making a positive impact on people you care about).
  • Legacy (a way of establishing values or accomplishments to help others succeed).

The challenge is that while these are important for everyone, the quality and quality are going to be different for each person depending on your gifting, goals, and stage of life.

The bottom-line: if you want to achieve enduring success or something akin to “balance”, then you need to be contributing to some degree to all 4 on a regular basis. Given the variables and variability in each individuals, you might think it impossible to come up with a formula….and your right.


So how does Barker say you know when it’s time to focus on something that contributes to another area instead of just plodding along, drifting or driving?  By paying attention to key emotions or feeling associated with each of the Big 4:

  • Happiness= Enjoying, Pleasure, Contentment
  • Achievement= Winning, Success, Thrilled
  • Significance= Counting (to others), Connection, Loving
  • Legacy= Extending, Reflective, Fulfilled

When you sense you’ve almost had enough, or just enough in one category then switch and link to another that you sense you could use more of. That’s it.

While simple, it will take some initial self-reflection work to get started if you haven’t give some thought to life-planning or your SEI is in the tank.


  • Know the 4 Key metrics of enduring success and what currently contributes to them for you.
  • Practice pausing and learning to recognize the key feelings and their variations associated with each category.
  • Once you sense you’ve gotten to good enough or “just enough” in one category, “switch and link” to an activity in another.

The reality is that you can harness your feelings and use them as a decision-making indicator to help you decide what’s important to focus on next that leads to your enduring success.  It beats trying to see if things are balanced enough in your life, because they never will be.

There is certainly more detail to be had. If you really want to take a deep dive, pages 239 – 251 of Barker’s book as well as Nash and Stevenson’s original HBR article will serve you well.  If not, the approach above is a great start.

Question: How is the typical model of work-life balance currently serving or sabotaging you? What are you doing to get life more aligned with the way you want it to be?