The Four Pillars of Life

People say life is all about having a healthy work-life balance.  The concept of a work-life balance is incomplete.  Life cannot simply be broken down as time spent working and time spent outside of work.  Our lives are much more intertwined and deserve a bit more complexity.

Instead of analyzing life as two entities (work and life), think of life consisting of four pillars.  Every action one takes can be designated under each pillar.  The four pillars of life are self, career, relationships, and world.  Below I will break down each pillar, and afterwards, explain the importance of combining multiple pillars at the same time.

1. Self

Think of this pillar the way people think about what it means to conduct self-care.  It’s important you do things that benefit yourself.  This could be something as simple as maintaining personal hygiene (showering, brushing your teeth), taking care of your health (sleeping, exercising), as well as leisure activities (watching TV, reading).

2. Career

Of all four pillars, this is likely the easiest to identify.  The time spent on your career can include the hours you spend at work, as well as the hours spent working at home or on the road.  For many people, the time spent on their career takes up the highest percentage of their time compared to the other pillars.

3. Relationships

The time spent with friends or family fall under the relationships pillar.  It’s critical we allocate time towards maintaining current relationships while nurturing new ones.  Honing in on our relationships can feel secondary, especially when life gets busy.  Therefore we must proactively set aside time to connect with those we care about.

4. World

Think of the world pillar as doing things that help the greater community.  Volunteering your time, donating to causes, and supporting social movements are all examples of contributions one can make to make the world a better place.

Intertwining Pillars

It’s critical to incorporate a balanced life between the four pillars.  Perhaps too much time is spent on one’s career while relationships fall by the wayside.  For others, the issue might be too much emphasis is placed on oneself while not enough energy is channeled into helping the greater world.

Every one of us have faced pillar imbalances at some point in our lives.  Part of the solution is rescheduling or reprioritizing your life.  Unfortunately many of us are too busy to properly balance the four pillars of life.  The key is to combine multiple pillars at the same time.  It’s critical to intertwine pillars into the same activities, which creates moments of greater impact.

While there are numerous pillar combination scenarios, I’ve highlighted a few notable ones below:

Self + Relationships: Think of things you do solo but could also be done with one or more people.  Find a friend who’s willing to be your workout buddy.  Instead of individually reading a book, find a community or book club to discuss it with.

Relationships + World: Forums to make a difference are also a great way to meet like-minded people.  You’re likely to build strong relationships with people who believe in the same vision and values as you.  Alternatively you can bring a friend along to volunteer with you.

Career + World: Does your job already intertwine with benefitting the greater community?  If the answer is yes, then great!  If the answer is no, then talk to your team for potential volunteer days or how your work can better support the community.

Self + Career: Find ways your career can improve you as a person.  Does your job challenge you to personally grow?  Perhaps there are opportunities to work on your listening skills, which will serve you better when at interacting with family at home.


As I write this post I’ve come to the following conclusion: it’s not only balancing our lives we strive for, but also interconnecting our lives.  Instead of growing yourself, why not do it with a group of people?  If you’re a workaholic, why not allocate some of your work time to benefit the greater community?

Don’t let a lack of time be an excuse for an unbalanced life.  Intertwine your life to get a healthy dosage of all four pillars.

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8 thoughts on “The Four Pillars of Life

  1. Thank you Devin ! We lose sight of the big picture and it’s becomes about me and mine , a very shallow existence .
    You have made me aware of so much through your writing.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Is this a framework of your own invention? I like it! Though I had a thought – do we really NEED a “World” category? I wonder if most people can live fulfilling lives without influencing the world. Maybe something like “community” is more encompassing.

    Anyway, this reminds me of the “spheres of positive impact”, a graphic which appears on my wall at work.

    Self, Family, Community, World.

    It gives a hierarchy to the list, and forces you to ask the question, “which do I care most about?”

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hello sammysignal,

      You bring up a great point here as the term “world” is up for interpretation. In this post I describe the world pillar as “doing things that help the greater community”. I think helping the world includes doing things that benefits a local community. Having said that I recognize for others “world” might mean something on a macro level influencing people on a greater scale, while community indicates something more localized.

      Love the concept of the spheres of positive impact!

      Liked by 1 person

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