The reason successful people seem to be successful in all areas of their lives is the same reason vehicles don't run if there's a part missing in the engine.

It's because the various areas of our lives don't exist in a vacuum. Like a car leaking oil, if one area of your life is “leaking”, the other areas don't run as efficiently or successfully.

Put more simply: [Tweet “Fulfillment in one area of our lives can't happen in spite of unhappiness in another.”]

A car with an oil leak can get you to your destination, sure. But you run the risk of the engine seizing up, and the oil leak has a negative effect on the other functions of the vehicle. The oil drips out, leaving less to spread to the rest of the parts under the hood. Friction heats the car and it could stop running at any time. In other words, you arrive at your desired destination at the expense of something else.

You can hate your job and be in peak physical shape outwardly, but underneath that muscle your body isn't healthy. Bodies react to stress no matter where it comes from and damages your heart, your liver, and your brain. You can notice this in other areas of your life, too:

  • No matter how much you love the work you do, it's difficult to be productive when you haven't had much sleep.
  • When you're physically unhealthy, it plays a toll on your relationship with your spouse or your friends.
  • When you wake up late and rush out the door, it colours your entire day.

The different areas of your life are like cogs in a machine. They work together to make magic. Like an engine, if one area isn't working properly, it affects the performance of the entire vehicle.

Last year, I experienced this.

My relationship was the oil leak. My husband, Jason and I tied the knot on July 19, 2014, and shortly after, I began to build Unsettle. I found myself working around the clock to start Unsettle with a bang. Jason was supportive. He cheered me on as I decided not to renew my contract at my job in HR to pursue blogging. He even supported me through the decision to buy a one way ticket to Europe, leaving him with our dogs and our house for 6-10 weeks.

As I paid less and less attention to the health of my relationship in favor of pouring my heart and soul into Unsettle, I put my new marriage in a precarious position.

As my relationship frayed at the seams, my business did, too.

I stagnated, procrastinated, and had difficulty focusing. I wasn't sleeping well, and I wasn't eating well, and both of these things made it more and more difficult to focus on the things I needed to do before Unsettle's launch. I was less unhealthier, unhappier, and less productive than ever before. The oil leak was throwing my entire life off track.

Balance is Never Truly Achieved…

We like to strive for balance.

Balance is one of the most overused words of the last couple decades, because as the lines blur between work and life, we feel the impact of our life's oil leaks acutely.

Chasing balance becomes a fool's errand, because balance is never truly achieved. As primitive beings, we focus our energy on the areas of of lives that hold the most pressing issues.

There will always be one area of our life that requires more attention than the others.

…But if You Neglect One Area of Your Life, Your Entire Life Suffers

Including that one area that requires more attention. I'm not proposing that you strive for perfect balance. That's impossible. But we would all benefit from being sensitive and attentive to all areas of our lives – our relationships, our physical, emotional, and financial health, and our careers.

And when we're healthy in every area of our lives, victory will be that much sweeter.

16 thoughts on “Why Some People Seem to Have it All

  1. Athena says:

    Great article Sarah and it’s soooo true. I always felt off and would focus extensively on certain projects at work and at school. Balance is an over used word and I feel like it’s something never truly achieved but I also feel that you can at least get to a point where you feel comfortable.

  2. Theodore Nwangene says:

    I couldn’t have agreed more Sarah,
    Just like the car engine you used as example here, every part of human being needs to work together in order to live a healthy and happier life.
    If you’re doing well in your business while your marriage or relationship is falling apart, you will notice that you’ll never have a sense of completeness, you will always feel that something is missing and indeed, something is missing.
    Also, your spiritual and social life also needs to be carried along as they are also important.
    Though, i don’t know if there is something like a balanced life because, there will always be somewhere you’ll be lagging behind but then, you just have to do your very best.
    Thanks for sharing Sarah.

  3. Naomi Dinsmore says:

    Hi Sarah,
    I’ve never looked at it from your point of view before. But I have been thinking lately about the people who seem to have it all. And how they build this perfect life around themselves.
    But I never considered being healthy in all areas. I always thought everybody has something their bad at, but I guess as long as you are still managing it (for example outsourcing) , it’s still OK.
    I hope things are better with hubbie now. Great post.

    • Sarah says:

      Hey Naomi – yep, everything is better between Jason and I now. And that makes everything better in other areas of my life, too 🙂

  4. Cathy Goodwin says:

    Sarah, this is food for thought. You *can* be unbalanced for awhile and sometimes you have to. Claudia Kennedy, the first female 3-star general in the US Army, said that jobs like hers were so demanding, she had to give up balance until she retired, and that was her choice.
    And a professor I know told his wife, when he was starting out, “I’m going to have to be gone a lot because I need to pump out this research to have a career. It won’t be forever.” Today he’s famous in his field, earns big consulting fees and his whole family take long vacations in wonderful destinations.
    What I’ve found is that it’s important to have several domains in your life. When something’s going wrong in one area, it’s usually going great in another and that’s where the balance comes for a lot of us.
    So the key to the leaky oil problem seems to be that you can’t ignore it. You can decide you’ll keep going with the leak, drive around it and who knows? You may never need to fix it! You can use a stopgap measure to temporarily stop the leak. Or you give yourself a time limit to take it in to the shop.
    But if you pretend there’s no leak and keep going … that’s where the problem comes. If you hate your job or your business has become a drag, you have to take action or you’ll sabotage your own best efforts.

    • Sarah says:

      Hey Cathy…
      Agreed that you can’t ignore an oil leak. I don’t think there’s such thing as true balance, and striving for that is like striving for perfection, but you’re right – you absolutely have to address the leaky areas.

  5. Luna Darcy says:

    Hi Sarah,
    Great comparison.
    Thanks for sharing your story and I can simply relate as my relationships suffered too while I was focusing on my job and blogging.
    The key is balance, but it would take effort and hardwork to get there. It won’t happen overnight but I believe it can be achieved!
    Hope you are having a blast with both your relationships and Unsettle. More power to you!

    • Sarah says:

      Some semblance of balance can be achieved eventually. We just all have to make sure to pay attention!

  6. Karo Tockhorn says:

    What a grat article ! I really enjoyed reading about your thoughts and you are absolutely right. I have experienced what you are writing about so many times ….

  7. Jaco Alberts says:

    Thank for a great article, Sarah. It’s so true what you say. We often look around us and think of people as successful. Yet, when you get to know them better they are stressed and ready to give up on life, due to exactly what you have discussed here.
    Yet, when you meet truly successful people, people with a more balanced lifestyle, they are calm and it is actually a pleasure to be around them.

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