That’s what I told a friend this week who was struggling with that feeling of being on a hamster wheel, trying to catch up with never-ending work. It’s also a thought that came to mind when I heard about the tragic death of 31-year-old actor Cory Monteith, found dead in a hotel room July 13.
Life is short, isn’t it? And mostly we have no idea how short it really is.
A few years ago, I blogged about why you need balance, relating to the annual Christmas visit I paid my best friend in Vancouver. Sometimes, between the demands of work and my own family, it seemed impossible to even think of getting away. But I always did, and I’m so glad; Dale died of multiple myeloma in 2005.
In a now-famous speech at Georgia Tech’s 172nd commencement in 1996, former Coca-Cola executive Bryan Dyson put it this way:
“Imagine life as a game in which you are juggling some five balls in the air. You name them – work, family, health, friends and spirit – and you’re keeping all of these in the air.
“You will soon understand that work is a rubber ball. If you drop it, it will bounce back. But the other four balls – family, health, friends and spirit – are made of glass. If you drop one of these, it will be irrevocably scuffed, marked, nicked, damaged or even shattered. It will never be the same. You must understand that and strive for balance in your life.”
I love that description, and he’s so right. Many times, I’ve thought, “I can’t possibly get away / go there / do that, I’ve got too much work.” But when I did it anyway, like my yearly trips to Vancouver, the work was there when I returned and it got done. And my family, health, friends and especially spirit were the better for my choice.
So don’t neglect your work, but make sure it doesn’t cause you to scuff or shatter the other balls in your life. You just never know how short life really is.
A related post:
Family. Friends. Health. Work. Pick four for life balance.
Image: “renjith krishnan” and FreeDigitalPhotos.net.