The PIESSEO Theory Explained

behavior change Jul 18, 2011

The Piesseo Theory
Perfectly Balanced (Which is pretty much impossible…)

The Piesseo theory is actually better represented by a radar graph, and one day I’ll make one and update this article.

For now the big circle surrounding by the dimensions of well-being is you.

The black circle in the middle represents ideal balance between these various qualities in your life.

I’m not the first to propose such a model, though my seven dimensions are a little bit more in depth than the 4 often recommended by others (physical, emotional, intellectual, spiritual – seem to be most common).

It isn’t new and it isn’t really mine. I stole it from economists and framed it in the context of fitness.

There is nothing wrong with their models, I’ve just observed how intricate environmental, social and occupational influences tend to be in my own coaching practice.

It is almost more often that these factors are the biggest contributing factors to weight gain, or frustration with weight loss or muscle mass gain attempts.

If you’re lifestyle skews too far in one direction, it can impact your ability to focus on the physical realm in particular. My domain.

How the PIESSEO Theory Works

At various points in our life, this black dot changes its position within the larger circle, it also gets bigger or smaller. So we can observe something like this:

A Person presently balanced in the Social Sphere

This representation indicates someone presently living life on a far more social realm of well-being. Lots of hanging out with friends and as a result at the expense of other aspects of their life and well-being.

Less focus on work, or on controlling their environment, and often on maintaining their physical health.

The Piesseo theory states that a person can only focus so much of their attention on improving or maintaining any one realm of well-being without excluding other areas of well-being. There just isn’t enough mental bandwidth, to do everything at once.

The point of this is to offer an image up, that relates to the fact, that whenever we put a lot of our energy into one realm of our life — the model doesn’t really matter — we sacrifice something elsewhere.

I see it time and time and time again:

  • Person A (above), spends a lot of time drinking, eating poorly, etc… to socialize. Often at the expense of their physical realm.
  • Person B, spends a lot of time working to advance their career: At the expense of their physical realm.
  • Person C, spends a lot of time working to improve intelligence (education): At the expense of their physical realm.
  • Person D, has emotional issues like emotional eating, that impacts their physical realm.
  • Person E, grows up in poverty and as a result their access to physical skill improvement is limited.
  • Etc…etc…

Sometimes you can improve one with another. For instance socializing can lead to improved occupational outcomes, if the socializing is based around the occupational realm.

Maybe improved occupational outcome (better job, more time off, etc…) can improve physical well-being or a person’s environmental status (access to a gym, etc…).

However, this is typically limited to 2-3 things at a maximum.

The lesson is, that for you to have success with physical objectives like fat loss, or muscle mass gain, you often have to look at where you’re spending the majority of your time already. Then, whether or not that is supportive or destructive towards your fitness objective.

In the example above, it might hard to make progress with fitness, if you feel the need to go out and socialize at every opportunity you have. Excessive socializing could make you skip workouts, or make poor food decisions.

On the flip side, feeling a part of a community at your gym and doing a lot of your socializing at a gym, could be very supportive of your fitness objectives.

Piesseo Theory and Opportunity Cost

 

Economists refer to this very same principle as ‘Opportunity Cost,’ basically devoting your attention heavily to one thing, means missing out on another.

Beyond the economic scope, no one ever really lives completely in balance, but we’re all sort of trying to average out our experiences, to be balanced, or at least we should be.

When we don’t seek that balance, something has to suffer.

This theory of mine could be moment specific, it could be hourly or daily, and in kind of the worst case scenario, you find yourself in this rut for months, maybe years.

Short-duration diversions of hours or days, are rarely the problem.

Getting stuck in a rut for months or years is where most of the damage is done. You wake up three years into your career after lots of late hours at the office and realize you’re 40 lbs heavier than you were when you started your career!

Whatever the case, breaking free of that long-term rut is a requirement for success.

So life is really this constant struggle to find balance, on an hourly, daily, and weekly basis or more. The tough part is to identify when you’ve been living life with a bias for too long, tuned to one specific frequency and then adjusting.

As the old saying goes, “you have to get back on the horse.”

The people who fall off the horse and get back on the fastest, tend to experience the greatest success. It’s a skill you can practice and develop.

The most successful people I know seem to have found ways to balance these realms in a way that plays to their strengths and mask their weaknesses.

We all have moments where we focus more on career, we go to school for a while, other times we may realize the importance of family or friends, hopefully all not at the expense of our physical health.

Self-awareness is primal component of our subconscious that makes us unique in the animal kingdom, so don’t forget to utilize it and check in with yourself from time to time to see how you’re doing in all 7 realms from time to time.

Are you in touch with your emotions?

How about your sense of self? My definition of Spirituality (Spirituality doesn’t have to mean ‘religion’).

If you’re struggling with your body image right now, I’d bet an analysis of these 7 realms of well-being would reveal the limiting factor you really need to change to achieve massive long-term results.

Need help?

Ideally find a coach or mentor.

If that’s not in the cards, leave a comment. 🙂

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Darren Beattie

A former University Strength & Conditioning Coach. Now aspiring tech entrepreneur and developer exploring fitness and nutrition to deep specific levels.

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