Margin: creating space for life


-The Loch Ness Monster
-A perfect balance between our personal and work life
You may ask what the above list has in common. While it is true that none of them have been credibly documented on film, they are also all myths that people search diligently to prove exist.
As we begin to go deeper in our Work-Life Balance series, we must first take an honest look at our situations.
We are not perfect.
We have limits.
We are not in total control.
We live in imperfect systems and environments.
Scientifically, given the above factors, we would not logically expect a perfect outcome to any test. However, we place the idea of perfection upon our everyday lives. We think that we will achieve a state of harmony when all the factors in our lives will function without friction.
Our lives are filled with tension. When I say tension, I do not mean that it is bad necessarily, just that you are being pulled in multiple directions. We all have the same number of hours in a day, and most likely we are all trying to find the perfect fit for them all. We maximize our days, every moment, every thought. We invest in planners and organization. We place our hopes in the latest technology, but the tension is still not erased.
This tension is increased when we are living life at our limits. People mention giving 110%, I am still trying to find all of my 100%. Whether it is our finances, time, emotional or mental capacity, we are limited beings who many times find ourselves maxed out.
When we try to operate out of deficit, stress and anxiety sky rocket. We are pushed beyond our levels of natural, healthy functioning.
It is in these moments we see the need for healthy margin.
Healthy margin is the space you create for life to happen. A tire goes flat, a friend loses a loved one, a child has a crisis, a spouse is ill, these are normal aspects of life that we can’t plan for perfectly. If we have maximized every second of every day, we have taken away our capacity for everyday life to occur. We then have to make a choice between work and a child or friend.
Our society is fascinated with the idea of people not having limits. We often call them superheroes. These people are limitless and can accomplish more than humanly possible.
In the professional realm we love to portray ourselves as superheroes, limitless, always available, always on point.
We hide the stains on our capes and fly around corners so people do not see our emotional breakdowns.
We are not created to be limitless.
We are created to be human and humans have needs.
Healthy margin gives the space for these needs to be met. Just because we can work extra hours, doesn’t mean we should.
Healthy margin helps us remain human and not fall prey to the superhero complex that is so pervasive in society.
It takes an adult to create healthy margin. You must have the ability to say no. You must learn to communicate your boundaries in respectful ways.
We must all help to foster healthy margin in our homes and workplaces. We must adjust our expectations back to human reality.
We may be enamored by a coworker’s work-life balance unicorn they are parading around the office. However, in time the horn will come unglued, fall off and you will see it is just a normal horse.
Healthy margin does not erase the tension of our lives, but it does create the space for the normal aspects of life to happen.
Healthy margin acknowledges that we are human and gives us room to live.
Next week we will take a look at boundaries and how we can start to create healthy margin in our lives.
May we create the space in our lives to be human, and may we give others this space as well.

Grace & Peace,