Are Your Margins Too Thin?

sad businesswomanA curious thing happened as I was trolling Facebook one day–a fellow author had posted about what she wasn’t doing for Christmas. “I’m not baking the seven different types of cookies that I normally do and I’m giving you permission to do the same. What is it you would like to give up this Christmas so you can spend more time with family?”

Whenever the first of the year rolls around it’s always time for the dreaded excitement of planning your (cue the music) New Year’s Resolutions. Often, these resolutions and goal setting add more to our plate rather than simplify our lives.

We should absolutely make goals–I’m a big believer in them. But how can we make them reasonable, doable, and achievable?

You might have heard about margins. Leave one inch margins around your written page. This used to be so there would be room for others to make comments. It’s morphed into leaving room in your life for the important things. You might have also heard people call this work/life balance.

But how do you know if your margins are too thin? What might some of the symptoms be?

1. You can’t say no. This means you don’t have boundaries. It’s really not healthy to be the go-to person for everything. You can’t always be at another person’s beck and call. I think volunteer work is important but pick ONE thing you’re passionate about and make sure the hours are reasonable.

2. You’re always running late. This can be symptomatic of two conditions. One, it’s just the kind of person you are. You’ve always been late and continue to be late. But if you used to be on time for everything and now you’re always just a few minutes (or more) late, then you’re probably over-scheduled. Why is it you can’t make it on time? Too many appointments or it’s something you don’t want to do? You’ve lost passion for your job, perhaps? Maybe never had any? Can you change that?

3. Your children/family/significant other don’t recognize you anymore. I remember when my girls were infants that I’d bring them into the bathroom while I was taking a bath and set them on the floor with some toys so I could keep an eye on them. The first time their eyes witnessed me dunk my head and come up with my hair slicked back, their quivering lips indicated that they thought I was not their mom anymore. I spoke to them and reassured them it was okay. If your family is coming in dead last then definitely some re-prioritizing needs to happen. What can you change about your current schedule that would make more room?

NewYearDaySince it is the first of the year, I do still think that it’s a good time to analyze and focus, but maybe with these tenets in mind. The goal has to be reasonable to make it fun and achievable; otherwise it’s doomed to fail from the start.

So, instead of the goal being I’m going to write THREE great American novels when you’ve never attempted one, attend a local writers conference to see if writing is suited for you.

Instead of losing ALL the weight you need to lose in the first three weeks of the year, shoot for a small piece of the whole. I want to lose 2 pounds in January. Once you’ve done that, set the next goal.

Goals are about focus, but they need to be achievable. You’ll still need to live your life. Keep those personal relationships strong. That’s what ultimately sustains you.

What are your reasonable and achievable goals for 2014? Will they maintain your life/work balance?

10 Replies to “Are Your Margins Too Thin?”

  1. Great post, Jordyn. To maintain margin in 2014, my answer will have to be “no” often. I’m praying for the discernment to recognize a “yes” and the peace to graciously offer a guilt-free “no”.

  2. Thanks for the post, Jordyn. I started an exhaustive (and exhausting) list of resolutions for 2014. Your post reinforced my resolution to not make so many resolutions.

  3. Great post, Jordyn! It wasn’t until I signed a contract for my novel and went through a long and grueling passing of my mother-in-law immediately afterward that I realized my boundaries were broken. I was overcommitted, and I hadn’t even realized I was the “go-to” person. After the funeral, I didn’t even pause, because now I had a “real job” (a signed contract does that somehow), but then I hit the wall. My health suffered, and everything ground to a halt. So I went on a slash-and-burn campaign, dropped activities, and learned to listen to Jesus rather than the workaholic in my head. I let many, many things go. Now my priorities are reordered. You offer really great words of advice! Unfortunately, it seems I always have to learn my lessons the hard way.

  4. Thx for the reminder, Jordyn. Btw, I heard an interesting comment once from a (non-author) friend about her “other author friend.’ She said that her friend’s new book ATE her friend. At one point in my life, my academic career ATE me! And I pray that never happens again. But I’ve been dangerously close at times! So, here’s a question for everyone: What’s “eating up” all of your resources, time, emotions, and thoughts lately?

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