Creating time for the unexpected in the midst of life

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When we are too busy, we overbook ourselves and risk not performing anything to the best of our ability. I do not know where the belief came from that we need to keep striving to have enough. We have food, shelter and far too much "stuff."

But a full-time job sometimes fails to satisfy. We may want a creative job, or at least to work for some kind of nonprofit or lofty company that betters the world. I want to make the world a better place, and I have never found the company that allows me to do that. How do we find a job that truly suits us? That feeds our soul?

Do you feel this way? Do you want to create, to work in a quiet space, to use your mind, or do something worthwhile? We must learn to commit wisely to only those extra things that really must be done or that we are certain that we have time for. If the problem is rooted in fear of insufficiency, being more mindful of the good things already in our lives should help us to scale back on busy time and create more margin, so that when something goes wrong, as things sometimes do when we are rushed, we can shift gears and adjust.

What are margins?

Margins are a concept I first became aware of a few years ago, reading a book by that title[i]. Not having margins creates problems, like being late for one appointment because the last appointment ran later than expected. Problems like having too much to do on the weekend because we take on too much – too many classes, commitments or expectations.

When we strive to meet the expectations of others. In trying to keep up with the Joneses, we make it harder on ourselves. Margin would mean that you plan extra travel time in your schedule so that if you do have to wait for a train or wait for the doctor, you still have the time cushion to stay on time with your other appointments. In "Margin," the author mentions a woman who relishes a trip to the dentist because she can sit down and relax for an hour. That is not everyone's idea of a vacation, but it is hers. Someone might similarly look forward to surgery as extended time off work, with pay, with people taking care of him/her.

These examples are extreme. It should not have to come to this. How can we make our workplaces someplace people look forward to? There are several factors. The work could be interesting, the people could be interesting, or the extra activities or non-tangible benefits could be more beneficial.

Does your workplace offer things you are not taking advantage of? Or do they offer opportunities for teamwork and interaction outside of work? If you do not enjoy anyone you work with, maybe you just need to get to know them better or explore non-traditional job seeking.

Strength and peace

Resilience and margins go hand in hand. To stay resilient and grounded in yourself, you must develop your awareness of your capabilities and your limitations. But there are also ways to enjoy where you are.

[i] Margin, Richard A. Swenson, M.D., NavPress; 1st edition (February 1, 2014)

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