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Four Burners Theory

Your life is a stove with four burners on it. Each burner represents a different area of your life:

  • Family
  • Friends
  • Health
  • Work

The stove canโ€™t run all burners at 100%; you must choose which burner doesnโ€™t get as much gas.

The Four Burners Theory highlights a few points:

  • There are always trade-offs in life. Saying โ€œyesโ€ to one thing means saying โ€œnoโ€ to other things.
  • In order to be successful in one area, you need to turn off or significantly reduce one other burner. To be really successful, you need to do this for two burners.

The origin of the Four Burners Theory is unclear. James Clear notes in a footnote on his article:

I first heard about The Four Burners Theory from Chris Guillebeau, who heard about it from Jocelyn Glei, who read about it in this New Yorker article by David Sedaris, who was told about it by an Australian woman named Pat, who heard about it at a management seminar she attended. If youโ€™re keeping score at home and trying to figure out where The Four Burners Theory originated from, well, good luck. The above quote comes from the New Yorker article by Sedaris.