What is margin?
Margin is breathing room.
It’s the opposite of overwhelm, overload, and overtime.
Margin means having some cash in the bank at the end of the month. It means having time during your day to spend on the things that are most important.
When we have this breathing room, it opens up a world of possibilities. Because when you have margin, you have the space to choose to be proactive instead of reactive.
We all need margin in our lives. From the stay-at-home parent, to the retiree, the 9-5 store clerk, the business executive, the pizza delivery guy, and the independent entrepreneur.
The reason we all need margin is because margin equals health.
Breathing room is good for our finances, our physical energy, our mental energy, and more. (Which, by the way, I dive into this topic much more in the free video presentation I put together. You can get it here.)
Today what I want to talk about is how Margin enables Intentional Living. You’re probably already putting the pieces together, so let’s continue…
What is Intentional Living?
Intentional living means being proactive in all areas of your life.
Jim Rohn said that “your level of success will rarely exceed your level of personal development, because success is something you attract by the person you become.”
I would also add that success comes about through diligence, hard work, and skill development.
Over the coming days and weeks we’ll continue to talk more about diligence, hard work, and skill development. But, in short, it takes intentional practice in order to be “successful” in each area of your life.
We know this is true for the athlete or the musician. Each day, the best athletes in the world train their hardest. Each day, the best musicians in the world practice and grow their skills.
The same principle of intentional practice holds true for every area of our life and any skill we wish to develop.
To reach the levels of success that are important to us (in our health, marriage, finances, vocation, side-projects, etc.) it takes intentional practice and development.
For a thriving marriage, you need to do something each day to strengthen your relationship with your spouse. The best writers in the world write every single day. One of the most sound financial investment strategies is to invest early and often.
Thus, intentional living is simply dedicating time each day to strengthen the most important areas of your life.
If you are doing that, then you’ll see success in those areas. If you’re not, then you won’t see success. It’s as simple as that.
So many of us “know” this truth. But so few of us do anything about it. Because it’s not microwaveable. It’s not easy to get started. It’s not easy to keep it up.
To be intentional — to live a focused life — takes a few things:
- Knowing which areas of your life are most important to you (at least in this season).
- Knowing what your goals are in those areas of life.
- Knowing what needs to be done to accomplish those goals.
- And then having the space to do the work. You need time, energy, and motivation to walk out your action plan. And that, my friend, is where margin comes in. Margin gives you that much-needed space.
These things boil down to simply having honesty, clarity, and a bias toward action. And it all gets just a little bit easier when you have breathing room in your life. Which is why margin enables intentional living. Margin enables you to live a focused life.
Margin Enables a Focused Life
In The Focus Course, the whole first module is focused on restoring margin to your life. We take 7 days and touch on topics such as personal integrity, relationships, creative imagination, finances, simplicity, and more.
The reason is because when you have a little bit of breathing room, it makes everything else that much easier.
Margin in your schedule keeps you free enough to have the time to do what’s important.
Margin with your thoughts keeps your mental energy strong enough to have the momentum you need to do the work when the time comes.
Margin in your emotions helps you with the motivation you need to do what’s important.
We’ll continue to dive deep on each of the aforementioned areas of margin in the coming weeks.
But for a start, do this: Unsubscribe from something or unfollow someone.
It could be a news feed, an email newsletter, or a person or brand on Twitter or Facebook.
Doing this will give you just a little bit more space. It’s one less thing to deal with in your day, thus giving you some time. And it’s one less area of “consumption”, thus giving you more mental and emotional energy to focus on doing your best creative work.
Also, this is a way to remind yourself that you are in charge of your information diet. You will never do your best creative work if you’re living in the middle of The Echo Chamber.
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Tomorrow, shawnblanc.net members will be getting a podcast conversation between me and my friend Mike Schmitz where we discuss how margin helps you to show up every day and do your most important work.
And on Monday, I’ve got an article for you about time stewardship and how you can get some breathing room in your crazy schedule.
If you want to keep up with all the articles, podcasts, and more that I’m publishing on the topic of margin, I’ve set up this page just for you. You can also get a free video presentation I made that shares an overview of what Margin is, why it’s so valuable, some quick wins for how to regain Margin in your life, and what I do to help maintain Margin in my own life.