Some years back I was talking to my brother about home improvement projects. He said, "You have to choose two." What? "Cost. Speed. Quality. You can only have two." After a little poking around on the internet, I've discovered that this is a widely referenced concept that some refer to as the "triple constraint."
I found a website (which I have tried to find again and now can't...sigh) where a guy made a list of about ten more similarly constrained triples. The comments were amusing on that one because people began to argue about his list. The one I remember was food: cheap, healthy, yummy. Choose two. To which someone said, "Beans. Cheap, healthy and yummy." I thought, "That's only two, you dork." and then realized they had simply forgotten their oxford comma.
|Who's a dork now?!|
|"Don't peel the onion. It will just make you cry." |
Even scarier! Sometimes we use one of the three to escape a challenge in another. So often work can become a means of taking shelter from a difficult home life.
Back on the "beans: cheap, healthy and yummy" debate, one angry comment-er said (and I feel certain he was flexing while he was typing) that you absolutely can get all three, and if someone told him he had to choose two he'd show them the door and find someone who could.
|Probably it was this guy.|
I told Amy and Joya down in the office I was thinking about this blog post yesterday morning (and indeed some of the content to this point comes from them...so thanks, guys!). I lamented that while I had a pretty good grasp of the problem, I was coming up short on a solution. I still don't have one because it's messy. But I have some insights:
1. It's not static. It's a moving target. The needs of work, family, and self change over time. There is no ideal balance to strike. There is only maintaining proper tension among the three.
2. It's important to be sensitive and attentive to all three. Even when you're focusing mostly on one, be aware of the others (and whatever you do DO NOT UNDER ANY CIRCUMSTANCES dismiss the others too quickly when they ask for your attention). This is really really hard for me because when I focus on something I really focus on it.
2a. DO NOT use one of the three to escape the others. It may seem easier at the time, but it will only make things worse.
3. Don't be bullied. Work in particular will take everything you will give it and then some. If you allow 56 hours per week for work, it will fill those 56 and want another. Be willing to draw a line when you have to, which leads to...
4...forgive yourself. Sometimes you have to say no. This is also a huge struggle for me because I'm mostly a people pleaser. When you say no, and a ball drops, there will be consequences. You just have to accept that you did your best and move forward. Failing doesn't make you a failure. ( ? )
This is my greatest struggle. It's the thing in my life I'm the worst at. Most of the time I feel bad about the thing I'm not doing a good job of...and I feel extra bad when someone has to tell me what I've been missing. But I'm hoping that spending some time thinking on it and mulling it over will help keep me aware of it...and maybe awareness is a good first step.