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Spreading Yourself Too Thin: The Goldilocks Conundrum

After being unable to commit to writing a post for the past several weeks, I took some recent free time to reflect upon my current commitments and priorities, wondering how I had shirked my duty of the upkeep of The Leadership Projects. In doing so, I thought back to a quote that I had heard a while back: "It is better to be a million miles deep and a few inches wide than it is to be a few inches deep and a million miles wide."

That is, it is better to commit yourself deeply and fully to a singular cause than it is to commit oneself to too many different activities and interests. I have found myself falling into the latter, continuously adding to my already full schedule, not realizing that no matter how much I do, there is still only 24 hours in a day; time will not stretch as I stretch my number of activities.

In thinking more about that quote, I wondered: while it's easy to tell when one is overstretched (no free time, undue stress and anxiety, inability to fully commit to one's duties due to a lack of time, etc.), how is it possible to know when one is not doing enough? I'm not talking about wasting the day away on the couch binge watching and finishing an entire series on Netflix, but when one is active and unsure of how close they are to their capacity. This is the Goldilocks Conundrum: how do I know when I'm not doing too much or too little, but just the right amount?

1) Everyone has a different capacity. What may be stretching one person too thin may not even stress another person out. In trying to find the sweet spot, it is hard but necessary to not compare oneself to others.

2) To find one's capacity, some introspection is necessary. In order to determine how many "outward" activities one can do, it is necessary to first look inward, judging your own self's limits, finding out how much one can comfortably handle.

3) Once you know your capacity, do something with it. While there are times that it feels like we're on top of the world, can work 60 hours a week, start a new organization, learn a new language, and continue having a social life at the same time, that may not be possible to consistently hold for a month, let alone for years. Although there are times to push ourselves, it is necessary to not just recognize our limits but to use that information to guide our actions.

In taking time to come to an awareness of what "just right" is for you, you start yourself on a path towards living a balanced life. Although there may be times you feel ambitious or lazy, an awareness of your capacity will go a long way in achieving an avoidance of burnout and a lifetime of personal success.

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