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The Imperfect Pursuit of Balance

Why is finding balance so hard? Pursuing balance requires reflection, prioritization, and embracing imperfection. Discover how to prioritize what's truly important in life and embrace imperfection.

Phil McKinney
Phil McKinney
3 min read
The Imperfect Pursuit of Balance

At the heart of modern discourse on success lies the elusive concept of balance. From self-help gurus to executive seminars, the call to harmonize work and personal life echoes loud and clear. We are bombarded with advice on how to achieve balance, yet in reality, most of us find ourselves constantly struggling to maintain it.

But why is balance so difficult to attain? It may be because the very idea of balance implies perfection - a perfect equilibrium between all aspects of our lives. And let's face it, perfection is an unattainable goal. We are human and, therefore, inherently imperfect.

Yet, we continue to strive for balance because it promises a sense of control and fulfillment. We believe that if we can just find the right formula, we can have it all—a successful career, loving relationships, and a healthy lifestyle.

But as someone who constantly juggles myriad responsibilities, I've come to see that balance is not a destination but an ongoing pursuit. It requires constant reflection, adjustment, and acceptance of imperfection.

This is no self-help guide but a contemplative piece for anyone navigating the bustling intricacies of life in pursuit of personal and career success.

Understanding Balance

The term 'balance' eulogizes a tranquil state of equilibrium, yet it's often misconceived as a stagnant condition. Balance in life equates to knowing when to double down on professional commitments without jeopardizing familial ties. It's the intuition to invest in one's health while fostering intellectual growth and social serenity. Quite simply, it means finding the right rhythm in one's life, where no aspect overshadows the other.

The Journey of Finding Balance

The pursuit of balance is an expedition—a grand odyssey brimming with challenges and rewarding insights. It demands more than a steely resolve; it requires an architectural understanding of how one's life is constructed and the audacity to continually renovate it.

My Approach to Balance Through Prioritization

My criteria for finding balance is prioritization. Every day seems to be a flood of tasks and demands that compete for my attention. But I've found that by identifying what's truly important to me and my values, I can make informed decisions about how to distribute my time and energy.

I ask myself: What are my non-negotiables? What areas of life bring me the most fulfillment? Then, I prioritize them in a way that allows me to achieve a sense of balance.

For example, I value spending quality time with my grandkids, so I make sure to prioritize that in my schedule. At the same time, I'm passionate about my career, so I also allocate time for those pursuits.

It's imperative to determine the core values that guide your life. For me, these values coalesce around what I call the Five F's—Faith, Family, Friends, Fitness, and Finance.

The Five F's

Each F represents an aspect of life that warrants fulfillment for a balanced existence:

  • Faith: The core beliefs and moral compass injecting purpose into one's life.
  • Family: The unyielding pillar of support and joy, anchoring amidst tumultuous times.
  • Friends: The lifeblood of camaraderie and warmth, essential for mental sustenance.
  • Fitness: The conduit for physical health and the metaphor of discipline.
  • Finance: The means to sustain independence and the freedom to pursue dreams.

This classification isn't one-size-fits-all. It's the distillation of what I did right and what I did wrong over my career. It's my framework for prioritizing demands on my time and energy and seeking balance.

Navigating these Five F's doesn't follow a checklist. Sometimes, one may require more attention than the others. However, understanding and valuing each F allows for a holistic approach to finding balance in life.

Embracing Imperfection

In acknowledging balance for what it truly is—an ongoing, imperfect pursuit—we find liberation. It's freeing to recognize that life isn't a rigid structure to be balanced on a finger but a fluid dance where footing might falter, and that's okay. Each misstep is an invitation to reflect, reassess, and recalibrate.

Learning from Setbacks

Setbacks are the reality. They're also the source of valuable lessons that help us strive for balance. As we embrace imperfection, we grow in our ability to prioritize and make informed decisions in the pursuit of balance.

The Evolving Nature of Balance

A critical revelation I learned early in my career is that balance is not static. Our responsibilities grow, our interests shift, and our energies wane. The balance sheet of life is one that we must reconcile with time and time again.


In a world entrenched in the binary of success and failure, balance is the gray area we must navigate with grace and intention. It's not a checklist to be completed but an ongoing journey that requires constant reflection, prioritization, and embracing imperfection.

So keep running, keep striving, and never stop seeking balance. It may not be perfect, but it's the imperfect pursuit that makes life worth living.

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Phil McKinney Twitter

Phil McKinney is an innovator, podcaster, author, and speaker. He is the retired CTO of HP. Phil's book, Beyond The Obvious, shares his expertise and lessons learned on innovation and creativity.


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