Thursday, September 2, 2010

Optimism and Worry

I'm an optimist who worries a lot.

--Madeleine Albright

I know what she means, and have determined that this is a characteristic of people who succeed, or want to.  We overprepare, set the highest standards for ourselves as workers, parents, friends and spouses.  And yet, we never quite feel like we've got it right. 

There are lots of people who give themselves breaks.  I'm tired, they say.  My boss/parents/ex-wife is ruining my life. It's not my job.  It's somebody else's fault.  And besides, Dancing With the Stars is on.  But they aren't the sort of person I want to be.

Those of us who want to do it right, behave with intrgrity, pay a price if we take it all on our backs.  So what's the middle ground?  Or is there a middle ground, if you are someone whose job affects the fate of the free world, or is a life and death proposition?

Boundaries are key, so those Experts Who Know say.  How one sets these is a matter of knowing one's personal emotional pitfalls.  I confess to keeping my Blackberry by my bed, and it's the first thing I look at when I wake up.  Even at four in the morning.  I only answer if it's a colleague I know, since it's not always gramatically correct and I know they'll just be happy I answered. I don't work weekends, but I do check my email several times each Saturday and Sunday in case there is something I can handle with a quick response.  Okay, that's working on the weekend.  But not really, right? 

I exercise every day and make it a point to get enough sleep, or at least try really hard.  When I have to choose, sleep wins.  One of the few bits of wisdom I have in my fourth decade is that real rest fixes almost everything that's wrong.  A rested self can take on the world.  A compromised and tired self will try but probably botch it. 

So, readers, how do you think high achievers manage this balance between getting the essential things done and keeping themselves healthy in mind and body?  Not just leaders of the free world, but anybody who has a demanding life and wants to do it properly?  Many of my readers, I know for a fact, are of this ilk.  What do you do to make sure you do your best work and yet still are involve in your families?  And what do you to to take care of yourself so you have a long and healthy life?

1 comment:

  1. Sue, this is not what you want to hear at your age, but retirement makes it all different. I can strive for perfection (which I still do), exercise, sleep a lot, socialize a good bit, and still have time. Why didn't someone tell me this at least five years ago?