If you’re like me, your life is filled with events, activities, relationships, responsibilities, and obligations. In addition, there are the basics of life…like bathing, sleeping, commuting, dishes, laundry eating, paying bills, investing, etc. Luckily, all of us get 24-hours a day, 7-days a week, and 365-days a year to fit it all in, right? I mean, that should be plenty of time (hopefully you can feel the sarcasm).
For the most part, I do a pretty good job at balancing all of this. However I often short-change myself in this balancing act. Time for myself can get pretty thin among the sea of other obligations…and guilt often short-circuits asking for time away. You see…I have a wife, three children, a job involving frequent travel, a long commute, etc. During the week, I’m up and out of the house by 7:30am if I’m in town. I return home around 7:00pm after an hour commute. If traveling, I’m usually in-transit and tied up with work-related responsibilities for most of that time. In summary, I give a significant portion of my time to my job at this stage in life. That, realistically, leaves me with just a couple hour each day during the work week and then the weekends for activities outside of work. As such, when I am at home, I feel as if I need to maximize my time with my family. It feels “wrong” to go golfing, or hiking, or biking by myself for several hours on a Saturday when I’m gone so much during the week. And for me, I recharge by being alone rather than with other people…classic introvert.
Guilt is often at the core of why it feels wrong to go off alone. Because, it is important to be around for my wife and kids. My presence in their lives does have a positive impact. And I know that “holding down the fort” when I’m away is challenging for one person (namely, my wife). I can definitely see it from the perspectives of those around me. That said, the quality of my time with my family is significantly diminished if I’m burned-out and drained of my energy. Making sure that I’m taking care of my needs, in theory, should maximize the amount of creativity and positive energy that I can bring to bear in each my relationships…even if that time is reduced as a result of doing so. Isn’t quality better than quantity?
“The most powerful relationship you will ever have is the relationship with yourself.”
– Steve Maraboli
To be sure, these are “first world” problems. I am grateful for the opportunity to even focus on such refined things rather than having to worry about poverty, disease, safety, etc. But, gene-pool lottery being what it is, I owe it to myself and those around me to ensure that I take time for myself in order to optimize my contributions to the world (and we all have something to contribute to the world).
I say this at the outset of having opted out of a Saturday family activity and have chosen instead to spend the day with myself. I made a smoothie and some coffee, walked the dog, went to the gym, wrote this post, ate lunch, meditated (something I’ve been meaning to try), read a book, took a walk along the water, etc. I felt guilty for asking for the time away…but did it anyway. And my mental state of mind is top-notch right now…I feel great. I’m the person that I want to share with my wife and kids…not some depressed, tired, stressed-out old (older?) man that is resentful for my life situation.
Life is a balancing act and the optimal balance of activities and obligations is different for each and every one of us. We all recharge differently. Make time to pursue positive, enhancing activities just for yourself and you, and those around you, will reap exponential rewards. This I believe wholeheartedly.