I was talking with my friend’s uncle, who is a successful businessman and professor. We were talking about how to balance our competing priorities in life (e.g., family, work, etc.). He said something that has always stuck with me. He said that in life, there are 3 key areas that compete for your time and attention: (1) work, (2) family, and (3) hobbies. By hobbies, he meant all the different activities or side projects you do for fun (e.g., golf, baseball, clubs, etc.).
2 Out Of 3
He said that at any point in your life, you can do 2 out of the 3 things well. But you can’t do all 3 things well. If you try, one or more areas of your life will suffer.
You Have to Choose
I thought what he said made a lot of sense. There just isn’t enough time in the day to be fully present and engage with your work, family, AND hobbies. You have to choose what is most important to you.
What is Your Balance?
This balance might look different at different points in your life. When I was single, I had a lot of time that I could devote to work and hobbies, because I didn’t have many family responsibilities. When I got married, I recognized that if I wanted to keep producing a lot at work and grow my relationship with my wife, my hobbies would have to take a backseat. Now that we’re expecting our first child this fall, I have come to terms with the fact that I might need to take a break from my hobbies for a while.
Your Priorities Can Shift
It probably won’t be forever. There might be a time where work becomes less important to me, and I can reshuffle my priorities. When my kids are grown and heading off to college, that will free up more time as well. It’s normal for your priorities to shift at different points in your life. But at any given time, the “do 2 out of 3 things well” mantra has worked for me.
If you feel like your life is maxed out, and you’re struggling to do anything well, press the pause button and reflect on what you are trying to do in each of the 3 areas of your life. If your time and energy is spread out around the 3 areas, it may be that you’re trying to do the impossible (i.e., succeed at all 3 areas at once). What would it look like for you to de-emphasize 1 of the 3 areas, so you can do the other 2 areas well?