The 4 Burner Concept


Every choice we make has a cost.


An opportunity cost.


Every time we act on a decision, regardless of how trivial or small we think (or often, don't think too much at all) the decision is, we're deciding NOT to do something else.


We all only have so much time, energy & resources to give which likely means,


We can't have it all. At least not all at once.

We have to choose.


Choose which areas of our life we're going to commit our precious & limited time, energy & resources too.

One way to look at this is through a concept introduced to me by James Clear. Called;

The 4 Burner Concept


The 4 Burner concept has us imagine that a stove with 4 burners represents our life.

Each of the burners represents a major component of our life;


  1. Family/friends

  2. Partner/spouse

  3. Work

  4. Health/Fitness

Now, we only have so much gas (energy/resources) to feed each burner (aspect of our life).

The theory basically highlights that to have a full flame at one burner, we likely need to have one or two of the other burners down a little lower.

Essentially, we need to choose. Would you rather live a life that potentially ‘unbalanced' but you’re super successful or high-performing in a certain area?

Or, would you rather live a life that is balanced, accepting the fact that you’re probably not reaching your full potential in any one aspect?


There’s no right or wrong here. It’s a decision. However, it’s a decision we should be conscious of.


Is there a way around this so trade off?


Doesn’t seem to be.

However, there are obviously a countless number of efficiency & productivity ‘hacks’ out there that may help you feel a little more ‘under control’ in any given aspect.


The other option is to consider your life broken up into ‘seasons’.


Seasons of planned ‘in-balance’ where you intentionally go ‘all-in’ on a certain aspect of your life for a period of time before pulling back and/or focussing on another aspect of your life.

Maybe in your 20’s when you have no family commitments, you can go all in on your fitness.


Maybe in your 30’s you’re more career focussed and now your fitness is about ‘maintenance’, not trying to be an ‘athlete’.


Essentially, The Four Burners Concept highlights a truth we all need to be aware of;


Everyone has constraints on their time and energy & every decision has a cost.


Which burners have you cut off?

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