So much to do, so little time. We all experience it- the feeling that there is never enough time. We vow to “make more time” for ourselves, our families, our community. The trouble is, we inevitably become caught up in the daily routine and focus our energy on the immediate demands. As Tim Kreider with NY Times so aptly described, many of us fall into the “Busy-Trap”.
As someone that loves their job, it is easy to work all the time, especially when a perceived sense of urgency exists. I often convince myself that if I just reach _____ (insert any number of goals here) that I will take a break- which of course simply results in myself constantly pushing towards new goals and deadlines. For those of us that must be “on” and social for our jobs, there is often little juice left for friends and family- something I really struggle with.
The challenge comes in recognizing your own personal limitations, letting go of the need to be everything to everyone all the time, and knowing when and how to say “no”. In a society that rewards those that push themselves to the limit, this is a challenge because you generally do not receive awards for calling your mother regularly, leaving work at 5, and making time for family dinner. This rings especially true in Charleston, a city of overachievers. I was lucky enough to be honored in two publications this spring as one of these individuals (see pictures below from Charlie Magazine and Charleston Regional Business Journal).
Reading about my fellow awardees resulted in a odd mix of inspiration, pride, and self-depreciation. There are so many amazing people doing incredible things that it inevitably makes you feel like you should be doing more. I guess that is the curse of being an overachiever- always feeling like there is more we can achieve as individuals. The passion that I have for my job tends to absorb so much of energy that I end up reaching my work goals while those I have set in my personal life tend to be neglected. Yet, as I sat waiting to receive my award for 40 under 40, I quickly realized that this is a pattern of behavior experienced by many of my fellow diagnosed overachievers. When I teased the awardee sitting next to me at the ceremony for checking his watch, he admitted that he felt guilty for once again missing a night spent with his new baby.
With this in mind, I propose a new set of awards. Awards that acknowledge the parts of our lives often over-looked, the unsung heroes, the people that give themselves everyday without thought of awards, paychecks, or publications. I want to win an award for the best letter writer, amazing pet owner, the most fun partner, the most generous gardener, the most often to call/email/text family member.
Here is to winning at life.