Overcome the 4 Burners Theory with a Minimalist Business
Minimalist Business, Working Mothers

How to overcome the 4 Burners Theory with a Minimalist Business (especially if you are a working mother!)

This post is about work-life balance and “The Four Burners Theory” – particularly how to overcome the theory with a Minimalist Business!

Last Friday at 4pm I was sitting at my desk and suddenly felt dizzy.

It was so sudden that I had trouble keeping my head up and had to lie my head down on my desk.

Then the dizziness got worse and I started to feel nauseous. I told my co-workers and they replied “Daijoubu?” “(“Are you okay?” in Japanese).

I decided to go home as I was worried it would get worse.

After recovering, I started to think why was this happening. I was really confused about the cause, as I hadn’t felt like that since I burnt out from stress a few years ago.

I suspected the cause of this sudden dizziness was a combination of 2 key points:

  1. I had been very busy at work (more busy than usual)
  2. I hadn’t slept well the past 2 nights which was unusual (I woke up at 3am and couldn’t get back to sleep!)

Have you ever had a sudden health issue and wondered what was wrong?

My Canadian colleague Scott said it was probably my body saying:

  • “What are you doing?! You already burnt out before and I tried to tell you then but it was too late. So this time I am going to tell you earlier!”

He made me laugh because I immediately realized he was right!

I already knew I was on a very sensitive platform of balancing my life. And any change in my routine had the risk of unbalancing the platform and everything falling off the edge.

Forward to today. I had been thinking about it alot, and then fortunately read an article about the Four Burners Theory (thanks to Grace from The Stripe for the tip!) and I realized how relevant this was to my situation.

The idea of the Four Burners Theory is that we all have 4 burners, and they are:

  • Family
  • Friends
  • Health
  • Career

The Four Burners Theory says that “in order to be successful you have to cut off one of your burners. And in order to be really successful you have to cut off two.”

Before I had kids (in my late 20s), my 4 burners looked like this:

  • Family – low burner (I was living in Japan and had regular contact with my family back in Australia, but it didn’t take much of my time other than visits each year)
  • Friends – mid burner (I spent time going out for dinner with my friends and hanging out on the weekends)
  • Health – mid burner (I made an effort to eat healthily, and had time to make healthy meals, and I regularly exercised by walking/jogging/Aikido)
  • Career – high burner (I was doing my PhD and very focussed on my career)

After I had kids, my 4 burners looked like this:

  • Family – high burner (my kids are my priority focus)
  • Friends – low burner (I don’t have time unfortunately to see my friends in person very often, but I do try to keep in touch online)
  • Health – low burner (I try to eat healthily, but I still have trouble with this burner as you can see above!)
  • Career – mid burner (I have to work to make a living so I have to keep this one burning, but I do often take a step back when I need to prioritize my kids)


I have never cut off one of the burners, although as you can see in the image above I have turned one or two of the burners down really low in order to keep the fire burning for my family and work.

And as I experienced the other day with getting dizzy, my work/life balance is still very sensitive and as soon as I turned up my “career” burner a little for a few days, my “health” burner went way too low and nearly burned out, thus causing dizziness and nausea and reminding me to take a rest.

But my question is, does it really have to be this way?

Do we constantly have to sacrifice one of the burners to be successful?

I don’t believe we do!

With a Minimalist Business, it is possible to keep all 4 burners equally bright.

The concept of a Minimalist Business is that it is a business that allows you to have the career and life that you want.

A Minimalist Business enables you to make the money you need, while at the same time having the freedom to enjoy your life and spend your valuable time with your family, friends, and looking after yourself.



To be honest, you may need to focus on the “Career” burner at the start to create your Minimalist Business, but once it is established you should be able to turn the other burners back up so that you can enjoy all 4 areas of your life.

I hope this post helps you to also think about your work/life balance!

I know it helped me alot to think about the 4 burners and how I am managing my life and how I want my life to be. I hope it will help you too 🙂

Much love,

x Kate

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