Fresh Facts Week 49: Building Margins

By August 2, 2015Fresh Facts, Newsletter

Often, I might be the biggest beneficiary of this weekly newsletter. I did the math, and if the average newsletter takes 3 hours to write, and we’ve been doing this for almost 8 years, and if a fellow only had to work 40 hours a week, then I’ve got a cumulative 30 weeks’ worth of work plowed into these crazy notes.

You probably think I’m just reporting what’s goin’ on down here on the farm—which is partially true—but really, a big part of what I’m doin’ each week is forcing myself to stop for 3 hours and really step back from my work and ask myself: “Why is what we’re doing here of value to our co-producers and how can that be communicated in an engaging way that makes your life better?”

There are parts of farm life that have nothing to do with the actual mechanics of farming but everything to do with life so those parts get shared as well; and so it is with this topic of ‘balance.’

I think the desire for balance in our life is a basic human necessity; perhaps not quite on a par with air and water, food and shelter, but certainly entwined with love and acceptance, family and calling. For sure, the biggies of joy and peace are unattainable from an unbalanced life.

You’ve heard the saying: “Live each day like it was your last!” But of course that dog don’t hunt because you’d never waste time brushing your teeth or doing the laundry, you’d drain your life’s savings and not go to work.

So now I’m going to preach to myself because I’m often way outta balance. Don’tcha think the term ‘balance’ is interchangeable with ‘skilled living?’ And isn’t balanced skilled living really just the moment by moment answering of the question: “What’s best next?”

Really, if I’m well centered; I know my life’s calling and purpose, and I’m fitting the details into that center, then ‘what’s best next’ gets a lot easier.
Where I blow it is also trying to fit ‘what’s pretty good next’ in there also. I get so much ‘pretty good’ and ‘not so bad’ in my life that the ‘what’s best’ gets crowded out.

Here’s the worst part, the best is often disguised as little insignificant stuff; like relationships; and the mortar that builds relationships is always spelled ‘time.’

So recognizing the pretty good and the not so bad is crucial, but I think the bigger deal with us Americans is having margins. Margins not just with our time, but also our money (which is often the same thing). If I’ve committed not just my present but also my future time in exchange for the pretty good, I just gave-up the freedom to say yes to the best and by definition; balance.

So practical, balanced, skilled living looks like this: Be ruthless with your Day Runner—or whatever you call your schedule—and get rid of all the pretty good. Same with your finances; not so bad gets the ax going forward. Build margins into both. Come to think of it, I think I’ll let Cristina write this newsletter next week!

Author Uncle Vern

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