Our societal and personal narratives on our aging are at odds. Are we bored or content, selfish or stewards, irrelevant or essential? The societal message is that midlife represents the start of a death march full of disease, decrepitude, and desolation. But, as these graphs show, the reality is a different story (except in Russia, […]Continue reading
You Need Margin In Your Life
Do you often feel overwhelmed or burned out? It is most likely because you do not have enough Margin in your life.
Margin is the space between our load and our limits, it’s the gap between rest and exhaustion, breathing freely and suffocating, and it’s what we all need more of. Having margin allows you to be available to others when they need you, time to think and make better decisions, and even for rest in between activities so you do the next thing more efficiently. It also makes life more rewarding, dare I say, FUN!
Our CEO group members are hard-working driven leaders. This quest for success can often lead us to exceeded our personal, emotional, relational, physical, and financial limits. We commit a 120% of life and then wonder why the burden feels so heavy. From my experience, it’s rare to see a life prescheduled to only 80% that allows margin to responding to the unexpected things life throws our way.
Because most leaders don’t think about margin, they don’t realize it’s gone. Most leaders only see their limits in the rearview mirror as they blow by at 100 miles an hour. You get to a place where you know something is not right but you can’t figure out what it is – it’s a lack of margin. Sadly, because most people don’t know when they’ve exceeded the limits they continue to make poor choices because they are not top of their game.
We deceive ourselves when we say we can still perform our work function with three hours of sleep, a stressful marriage, and looming debt. Yes, you might be able to physically walk into the office and get things done but you are not on top of your game and in most cases you are just moments away from a hard crash.
No one really sees themselves as overloaded and often will say “one more thing won’t hurt.” But it will hurt. It’s like the straw that ultimately breaks the camels back. We’ve lost the feeling of what it means to rest, to enjoy life, to laugh with friends. Forget the idea of caring for the world around us, we’re too busy, they’ll have to take care of themselves.
Heres the math:
Abilities (limit) – Responsibilities (load) = Margin.
Time and other physical limits are easier to notice when we’re running out of our capacity. However emotional overloading or mental overload is hard to know when we’re getting close to the limit, usually we don’t until we pass it and then we have burn out, exhaustion, hostility, depression, and resentment (you don’t want these things in your life, right?)
Here are a few examples of overload:
- Activity overload – booked up weeks (months?) in advance.
- Change overload – the changes that come at us these days are fast and furious and relentless. The only constant is change.
- Commitment overload – people just can’t say no these days. They sign their kids up for too many sports at the same time enroll in multiple courses while holding down multiple jobs and volunteering in multiple opportunities.
- Debt overload – The majority of our society and even our government is overloaded with debt.
- Decision overload – we make over 1,000 decisions every day and they seem to be getting more and more because there are so many options.
Take a minute to consider your current load in the areas of health, friendships, work, finances, love, faith, rest, fun. Then share this with the other members of your CEO group and ask them what they do to create margin so you can fine tune your life to build in margin.
Creating margin in your life requires the art of setting limits and learning to except that we will not get it all done, so choose wisely and make trade-offs. Margin brings freedom, permits rest, nourishes relationships, and creates room to live the life you really want – not just the one you have today. I want this for you – but you have to want it too.