It’s popular advice.

“Find a balance in life” to be truly happy.

It’s good advice, but it leaves a lot to decipher on your own.

For example, what’s a “balance?” Is that balancing the exact same amount of “me” time with work? It leaves me imagining a teeter totter with the exact same load on each side, the plank balancing exactly in the middle.

Then you add in family and friends. This adds another teeter totter crossing the first. Must all four ends (and in reality, there are many more crossing planks) of the teeter totter be perfectly balanced to find true peace?

That’s a lot to manage. Taking away a little off one side and adding it on to another side to find perfect balance is work in itself.

And sometimes, if you’re like me, taking away from any side leaves you feeling like you’re letting someone or something down. So you add load back to that side, and the balance cycle continues.

Until the boards break.

It’s something I have struggled with as a father, a business owner, a family member, a friend, and someone who likes to sometimes be alone.

For me, the trick has been finding, and being comfortable with, my threshold.

My threshold is the amount of load I can place on the proverbial teeter totter and still breathe.

Even if the planks are unbalanced.

My teeter totter has an unbalanced look, with some planks higher than others. Some sides are prioritized.

And that has to be okay.

I’ve tested the threshold, and I know what happens. Too much load here means neglect here (usually my free time) and you end up in a bad place.

Balance can mean adding more or taking away on one side and not the other.

I’ve learned my threshold is different than others. I’ve often taken on new responsibilities because I see others doing the same. If they can, I can.


They are different people with different variables in their life. Their threshold is theirs. Mine is mine.

What about health and fitness?

When I see the “suck it up, buttercup” style motivational fitness post, it’s irks me a bit because of this.

It can be motivating to some, but to most, this just becomes a catalyst to add load to your teeter totter, or to feel guilty for not.

This is absolutely not saying that you shouldn’t add routine fitness to your lifestyle. You should smartly add fitness to your board with an understanding of your balance threshold.

Don’t break your teeter totter because someone else is bragging about going to the gym 7 days a week at 5am.

Finding a balance means knowing your threshold, and more, being comfortable with that place.

For me, I’m still battling. I know the threshold, now I need to stay consistently true to it. I do know that when I do, I am a better all around me for it.

It’s your turn. Emerge.

Matt Pirtle MA CSCS