Jessica Stillman’s “Work, Sleep, Family, Fitness, or Friends: Pick 3,” explores how Randi Zuckerberg illustrates the difficulties in maintaining balance and preserving enough room for all areas in her life. In her opinion, to achieve a level of sustaining success, one can realistically only make room for 3 areas – either work, sleep, family, fitness or friends. This piece pushed me to consider my answer to this question and where I decide to dedicate my time. I chose to articulate my response in terms of categories:
Family: I adore spending time with my family. My childhood was filled with family dinners, movie nights and playing board games on random weeknights. I spent countless evenings hanging out with my mom, dad and sister. As I write, I remember our good times. This thread is still present in my life with my husband and daughter. As a whole, we gravitate toward introverted activities and thrive on the comforts in our home. We regularly watch sports and movies as a family, as well as spend our time reading together. We love when our extended family visits and regularly try to make it back to Texas when we have a chance. Family grounds me and I adore that they aren’t afraid to tell me what I need to hear.
Work: My writing is my work. Although some might perceive it as a hobby, writing is not only my passion, but my vocation. I’ve always approached working with respect and consider it a privilege to put in long hours to meet a goal. I have a multifaceted look at work – it may mean working hard to provide a clean house and dinner for my family. It might mean chauffeuring my daughter to and fro to activities. It’s all the activities I do that make me a better person, daughter, sister, wife, mother or friend. Working isn’t limited to your vocation, but all the areas where you seek to improve yourself.
Fitness: Exercising is one of my non-negotiables. I’ve often talked about how running is integral in my life. Walking outdoors and paying attention to nature or squeezing in time for a morning run is essential for my well-being. These activities have become my moving meditation. I’m cognizant that moving my limbs is a place of privilege. I learned this lesson when caring for my ailing father and witnessing what happens when you lose the ability to move your limbs.
Sleep: In my twenties, I prided myself on pulling all-nighters to study or finish a task. I’d cram at the last minute and pour buckets of coffee to stay alert. In midlife, I am reluctant to participate in activities which compromise my sleep. I tend to function better on a routine and late nights tend to sacrifice my mindfulness for the next day. I may not exercise or write or do the the activities which provide me the most comfort because I am too tired. Lack of sleep, in my opinion, doesn’t allow you to be as present as you may want.
Friends: Hanging out with my friends is important to me. Friends help me laugh, reflect and enjoy life. I tend to avoid large social gatherings where small talk is the buzz of the evening, but crave an intimate setting where good conversation is accessible. I do value a handful of friends and seek friendships among those people who I deem as native speakers in my life. This includes IRL friends as well as virtual pals.
I’ve learned each of these areas are important to me. I may not always commit fully to these areas every single day, but I know that each has a place in my life. I can’t necessarily sacrifice one for the other, but vacillate among all five in a given day. And maybe that isn’t perfect, but it is the right imbalance for me.
How about you? Would love to hear your thoughts on this subject.
Image: Le colline Marchigiane by BORGHY52 via Flickr.