It can be difficult to find a job that truly suits us and feeds our soul. I love to create, to work in a quiet space, to use my mind and do something worthwhile.
Now, once again, I have got involved in a fun new project and overbooked myself. If all the things I expressed interest in actually come to me, I will have a frantic time and risk not performing well and working to the best of my ability. I need to learn to commit wisely to only those extra things that really must be done or that I’m really sure I have time for. Since with me the underlying factors are the irrational fear of not having enough to do (so I pick up extra work) and having too many interests (so I start a lot of projects), being more mindful of the good things I already have in my life should help me to scale back on my tasks and create more margin, so that when something goes wrong, as things sometimes do when I’m rushed, I can shift gears and adjust.
Margin is a concept I first became aware of a few years ago, reading a book by that title by Dr. Richard A. Swenson. Not having margins creates problems like being late for one appointment because the last appointment ran later than expect. Problems like having too much to do on the weekend because you took on too much–too many classes, commitments, or expectations. When you strive to meet the expectations of others, in the vein of keeping up with the Jones’s, you make it harder on yourself. Margin would mean that you planned a little extra travel time in your schedule so that if you did have to wait for a train, or wait for the doctor, you would still have the time cushion to stay on time with your other appointments. In Margin, Dr. Swenson mentions a woman who relishes a trip to the dentist because she can sit down and relax for an hour. Not everyone’s idea of a vacation, but it is hers. Someone might similarly look forward to surgery as 8 weeks of being off work, with pay, with people taking care of her.
These examples are too extreme. I’m sure they happen, but it shouldn’t 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, well, beneficial. Does your workplace offer things you’re not taking advantage of? Or do they offer opportunities for teamwork, and interaction outside of work? If you don’t enjoy anyone you work with, maybe you just need to get to know them better.
Resilience and margin go hand in hand. Margin is the space between our load and our limits and is related to our reserves and resilience. It is a buffer, a leeway, a gap; the place we go to heal, to relate, to reflect, to recharge our batteries, to focus on the things that matter most. To stay resilient and grounded in yourself, you must develop your awareness of your capabilities, your limitations and restore your margins.