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Mastering the Art of Drawing the Line: Finding Balance and Excellence in Worthwhile Pursuits
Building a balanced life with the focused diversification of effort
Prompted delivers weekly insights and prompts designed to help readers become a bit better each day.
Perfection isn't what matters. In fact, it's the very thing that can destroy you if you let it.
It’s rare that we ever find ourselves doing something poorly on purpose.
In trying to become a bit better each day, every action we take, every endeavor we embark upon, becomes an opportunity to optimize, to do better.
And yet, we allocate widely varied efforts to different activities depending on their importance and the context of the situation.
We spend much more time drafting an email than a text message and texting takes on a new level of importance when we’re messaging a longtime friend compared to a recent crush.
Drawing a line that limits the time and energy we allocate to a specific pursuit is easy when the stakes are low, but the question of where to draw the line becomes much more difficult when we’re choosing how to approach the truly worthwhile pursuits in our lives.
We all want to be better. We all want to live a fulfilling and rewarding life. We all want to do the very best we can with everything that’s important to us, but doing so requires an immense amount of our limited time and energy. The more we lean into one pursuit the less we have to allocate to another.
The question shouldn’t be how to achieve mastery in all of our worthwhile pursuits. If we attempted mastery in each pursuit, we’d either achieve it in one pursuit at the expense of the others or spread ourselves too thin and make limited progress.
Instead, we should ask ourselves where we can draw the line to limit our effort in each pursuit so we can allocate enough resources to each of the most important areas in our lives to be proud of the results.
Allocating our time and energy is like choosing a cart in a game of Mario Kart. We need to balance handling, acceleration, top speed, and off-road capabilities. The perfect cart, like the perfect life, doesn't exist.
Instead, we're faced with trade-offs - opting for better top speed may come at the cost of acceleration, and choosing great handling might mean sacrificing performance off-road. These trade-offs mirror the complexities of real life.
If we choose to invest all our time and energy into our jobs and our social lives then we need to accept worse outcomes in other areas of our lives like our health and our hobbies.
We all want to be healthy and fit, be an incredible parent, get a promotion at work, spend more time with friends, travel to new places, and master our favorite hobby, but if we don’t learn where to draw the line, pursuits of excellence will hurt more than help.
A fulfilling life is rooted in the balance of focus and diversification.
Focus too much on one thing and we’ll get results we’re not happy with in other areas. Diversify too broadly and we’ll have subpar results as well.
Learning to draw the line at good enough allows us to excel in the small number of things that are of outsized importance. If we’re proud of the results from what matters most, the rest will take care of itself.
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What are the 3-5 worthwhile pursuits in your life that have an outsized importance to you?
Are you satisfied with the results in each of these pursuits?
Where do you need to become better at drawing a line to limit your efforts and accept “good enough”?
The Mountain is You - Brianna Weist
Transforming self-sabotage into self-mastery.
Thanks for reading! I’ll see you next Sunday.