Margin in Life

While reading Doug Post’s blog on leadership margin dated July 17, 2014, I was reminded of a video series I had watched several years ago featuring speaker Andy Stanley. The series talked about margin in our lives in multiple areas, and while reading Doug’s blog, I thought it might be good to share some other thoughts about margin in other areas of our lives.
In this fast-paced and hectic world, we often say we are too busy or don’t have enough time or money. Often we do whatever we can with whatever time or money we have to “get the most out of life.”
Andy suggests that multiple areas in life could use some margin. Andy defines margin as the space between our current performance and our limits or an amount beyond what is needed. There are four areas I’d like to touch on regarding margin.
  1. Schedule Margin: Often, we have our days booked so tight with exercise, work, housework, to-do’s, kids’ games, etc., that every minute is scheduled. Because of this, our stress level goes up, our focus narrows, and our relationships can suffer. If we could create some “margin” in our schedule, our stress might go down, and we might have some space for the things that come up unexpectedly (both good and bad). Maybe we wouldn’t have to give up the important for the urgent.  
  2. Financial Margin: Have you heard the phrase “the one with the most stuff wins”? Society has placed an incredible amount of pressure on individuals and families to have “stuff.” I can get caught up in this easily. The need to “have stuff” often puts pressure on our finances. If I had less stuff, it might give me more margin in my finances and my time. If I had some financial margin could also reduce stress. 
  3. Moral Margin: If we are always living our life on the edge of morality, it doesn’t allow much margin when challenged or pushed to go over the line. Once we are pushed over the line, it can affect us psychologically and relationally.  
  4. Professional Margin: In addition to Doug’s comments on leadership margin, what about professional margin? Are the things that you are doing adding value to you, the company, or society? Are you spending your time at work on the right things? Or are you filling up your time with things that maybe could/should be done by others? Would having some margin in our time at work allow us to spend our time on the right stuff?
After watching Andy’s video several years ago, I have thought about it often. When things get too busy, tight, or stressful, I try to evaluate the margin in my life and determine if I have over-committed in any of the above areas. I’d challenge you to grade yourself in the four areas above. How do you score when it comes to “margin” in these areas of your life?
Thoughts are taken from Take It To The Limit by Andy Stanley.
Continue Leading the Interstates Way!
Jack Woelber


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