You can only drive one car at a time

It’s a frustrating way to live; you don’t ever get anywhere fast or far, and you often feel unproductive.

THERE’S MORE TO IT — Many years ago, I saw a car commercial that showed a guy driving two cars home from the dealership because they were such a good deal. It was comical to see him drive one of the cars forward by 100 yards then run back to the other car and drive it forward, then repeat the process over and over.

It seems kind of ridiculous that anyone would drive their cars like that, but we don’t seem to take notice when we live our lives in the very same way.

With all the responsibilities we have in life, plus the opportunities for fun, adventure, learning and everything else, we tend to adopt ways of managing it all. One method is compartmentalization; we budget time, priority and resources to the different elements of our life, and it seems to make sense, like buying two cars because it was such a good deal.

An easily recognizable example of compartmentalization is the time we spend at work vs. the time we spend recreating or having fun; both are important, but we don’t do them both at the same time; one is distinctly different than the other. Add another compartment, home life, kids and family; this is also a big responsibility that requires a lot of attention, but not when we’re at work, and often our idea of fun is more of a getaway from both home and work.

Now add to these things, your mom’s birthday, that business idea, your kid’s soccer game, those travel plans, or that project you’ve been meaning to get to, and soon you have an overwhelming number of compartments that you are jumping between.

It’s like that car commercial, but with a dozen cars; you move one forward and then need to run back and get another one and another one and another one.

It’s a frustrating way to live; you don’t ever get anywhere fast or far, you often feel unproductive and like you’re neglecting one or more items in favour of trying to get somewhere with the others.

I like to think of these different elements of life the same way we think of our children; you care for them, love them and want all of them to thrive and become their best. And like children, they share your attention (usually not exactly evenly) each of them requiring different resources, time and attention at different times, and they are all keenly aware when the others get something they didn’t.

Living a compartmentalized life is like having a different car for each of those children, all equipped with the appropriate toys, blankets, sports equipment and car seats. As much as I occasionally dream of such a scenario, the reality is, it makes better sense to put everything into one car and take them all along for the ride, instead of driving each car 100 yards at a time.

Practically this means work, fun, home and everything else becomes a family in one car, each has a time for greater emphasis, all of them are your life.


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