Derek Sivers
from the book “How to Live”:

Here’s how to live: Balance everything.


All bad things in life come from extremes.
Too much of this.
Too little of that.

When we lack balance, we’re upset.
Over-worked, under-loved, over-eating, under-sleeping.
Focused on wealth, but ignoring health.
Focused on the present, but ignoring the future.

Even positive traits, when taken too far, become negative.
Like when someone is generous to a fault, or amusing to a fault.
Too much of a specific strength is a weakness.
If you rise to great heights in only one area, you’re a one-legged giant: easily toppled.

Notice the similarities in the physical and emotional definitions.
Physical upset: to knock something over.
Emotional upset: to be disturbed.
Physically unstable: likely to fall.
Emotionally unstable: prone to dangerous, impulsive behavior.
All related to a lack of balance.

When you’re balanced, you’re unlikely to get stressed.
You’ve got a stronger foundation and a resilient structure.
You can handle surprises, and make time for what’s needed.

Virtue is in the balance between extremes.
Between the insecure and the egomaniac: confidence.
Between the uptight and the clown: grace.
Between the coward and the daredevil: courage.
Between selfishness and sacrifice: generosity.

So, the way to live is to balance everything.

Imagine the different aspects of your life as the spokes in a wheel: health, wealth, intellectual, emotional, spiritual, or however you divide it.
If any of these are lacking, it makes a lopsided, wobbly wheel, causing you to crash.
But if you keep the parts of your life balanced, your wheel is round, and you can roll easily.

You have different sides to your personality, with conflicting needs.
Instead of ignoring one, make sure you balance them.
Balance time with others and time alone.
Balance your need for stability with your need for surprise.
Balance input and output, consumption and creation, stability and adventure, body and spirit.
Your opposing needs become each other’s remedy.

Work more on your weaknesses.
Someone who’s rich but fat has different needs than someone who’s fit but broke.
Remember the spokes of the wheel.

The best tool for a balanced life is the clock.
Like a hunter’s dog, the clock will be your best ally.
It will guard you, keep your impulses in check, and protect what’s important to you.

Schedule everything to ensure balance of your time and effort.
Scheduling prevents procrastination, distraction, and obsession.
A schedule makes you act according to the goals of your highest self, not your passing mood.

Schedule quality time with dear friends.
Schedule preventative health checkups.
Schedule focused time to learn.
Schedule each aspect of your life, ignoring none.
List what makes you happy and fulfilled, then schedule those things into your year.

The balanced schedule protects you from hurting yourself, from getting overwhelmed and ignoring important needs.
You won’t over-work, over-play, or over-indulge.

Even creative work needs scheduling.
The greatest writers and artists didn’t wait for inspiration.
They kept a strict daily schedule for creating their art.
A routine triggers inspiration because your mind and body learn that ideas emerge at that time.
The world’s greatest achievements were squeezed into existence by deadlines.

Set an alarm to start and stop on time.
Obey your schedule, no matter how you feel.
Schedule every hour of your day.
Distraction steals what’s not locked down.

Once you’re living a balanced life, find new layers.
The wheel has infinite spokes.

Balance your needs versus the needs of others.

Balance your knowledge.
Read books on core subjects you know nothing about.

Balance your political opinion.
Talk with smart people in the opposite camp until you’re not opposite anymore.

Balance the abilities of your body.
Improve your flexibility, strength, coordination, and ability to perform different types of movements.

Balance two languages.
A second language is one of the best things for your brain, and can add a new type of balance, like living half the year in another culture, speaking only your other language.

Balance your response to situations.
Do you tend to change yourself, change the environment, or change nothing and leave?
Find which you do too much and which you don’t do enough, then rebalance.

Finally, balance the world.
Help lift up those who have been pushed down.
Counterbalance sexism, racism, and religious discrimination.
Feed the hungry.
Balance justice.
Balance human nature.

By balancing everything in your life, you postpone nothing.
You won’t postpone happiness, dreams, love, or expression.
You could die happy at any time.

Balancing everything is how to live.