Richard Swenson, author of Margin: Restoring Emotional, Physical, Financial, and Time Reserves to Overloaded Lives defines the space between our load (tasks, responsibilities, goals, dreams, ambitions, regrets, fears, failures, etc.) and our limits (the point at which you can successfully handle your load) as our “margin”.
Margin, Swenson says is related to our reserves and resilience. He likens it to a buffer, a leeway or a gap. The place we go to heal, to relate, to reflect, to recharge our batteries, to focus on the things that matter most.
Everyone has a load. Everyone has a limit. Most people are pushing every aspect of their lives to capacity by decreasing the space between their load and their limits. The result – the elimination of balance. The loss of balance creates an environment ripe for burnout and chaos. Feelings of desperation, inadequacy, exhaustion and melancholy. This is no way to live.
It is important in life not necessarily to be strong, but to feel strong. When you start dropping the ball. When deadlines are missed. When the quality of your work begins to dip. When expenditure exceeds income. When important relationships go ignored. You have probably surpassed your capacity.
The Argument for Personal Growth
If it doesn’t challenge you, it’s not going to change you. This statement will forever remain true. Personal growth depends on new challenges and activities. Increasing the space between your load and your limits does not mean eliminating personal growth. Increasing your margins means being strategic in your choices and your action.
“It’s not what a man does during working hours, but after them, that breaks down his health. A fellow and his business should be bosom friends in the office and sworn enemies out of it. A clear mind is one that is swept clean of business at six o’clock every night and isn’t opened up for it again until after the shutters are taken down next morning.” ~ Letters from a Self-Made Merchant to His Son by George Horace Lorimer
Balance is not something that is just going to find its way into your life uninvited. You and the people you love need you to share your best self. Stop allowing yourself only enough space to just get by. Nobody – not even you – can do it all and no medals will be awarded to those who die trying to either.
You must fight for your margin. For the gap between your loads and your limit that will allow you to breathe freely, avoid suffocating and recharge your batteries while creating the best version of yourself.
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