Everyone wants a piece of us.
Not in a malicious way—there isn’t always an agenda or ulterior motive. We choose how we give away some of those pieces by deciding who gets our time and attention. For the rest, we don’t have as much choice. We’re supposed to be “responsible” adults. (Apparently, that is not redundant.)
But there’s only so much of us to go around. We have a finite number of “pieces” to give away. The struggle is maintaining control of as many of our pieces as possible.
The adult stuff usually gets first dibs.
We give almost half our pieces — 40+ hours a week — to our work. In exchange, they give us money to pay for food, shelter, clothing, and our Amazon Prime addiction.
This agreement benefits both parties. We need certain things to survive, so we provide value to someone in order to afford those things. Our company or clients are happy, and so are we.
Until work starts asking for more than its fair share. When our managers, employees, clients, or customers want a few too many pieces. When we answer emails or take phone calls in the middle of family dinner. Or when we continue doing unfulfilling, unsatisfying work because we have to maintain the standard of living that took us so long to build up.
Sometimes our agreement with work becomes too one-sided. Sometimes it wants too much from us, and other times we choose to give it more than we should because our priorities are out of focus. Either way, we’re left with fewer pieces of ourselves to give away.
What do we do with the rest?
There’s no shortage of interested parties fighting over our remaining pieces. Family, friends, technology, media, entertainment, hobbies, and cockapoos all require our undivided attention. Figuring out how to balance all of this is what keeps me up at night. (Well, that and the cockapoos.)
Family & Friends
Spending time with family and friends is an equal exchange—kind of like work, but more fun. We give away our most precious resource—our time. And as long as there’s no agenda, we feel good about giving away these pieces.
In fact, we usually feel better afterward. Fellowship is what life’s all about, right? Eat, drink, and be merry? (Mr. Ecclesiastes was a wise man.)
Media & Technology
This one is a little different. Our agreement with technology and media—TV, newspapers, websites, social platforms—is one-sided by design. They want as many pieces of us as they can get. The longer our eyeballs are on their platform, the more ads they can show and the more money they can make.
This agreement isn’t necessarily bad. We read, watch, or listen to “free” content. In exchange, the platforms show advertisements. And if the content is good, then maybe we’re entertained or learn something new.
But their goal is to keep the “users” (us) engaged as long as possible. We aren’t the customers—the companies buying the ads are the customers. The platforms just sell our eyeballs to the highest bidders.
We have to decide how much our pieces are worth.
Why is this section last? Because that’s when we usually give pieces of ourselves to ourselves. We wait until we’ve given to everyone else, then we’re stuck with the leftovers. We take our few remaining pieces and give them to our hobbies and passions—the things that make us unique.
These “things” are the answer to, “What do you like to do in your spare time?” But why does it have to be “spare” time? Why do we leave ourselves with the crumbs?
The real question should be, “What do you love to do?” And whatever the answers are, we should figure out how to do more of that.
It starts with being intentional.
There’s no right or wrong way to allocate our pieces. Some people need more social time, and some need more personal time. Some can seemingly give 100% to work, family, themselves, and still know everything that’s going on in the world. I hate those people.
Everyone wants a piece of us. We just have to decide how we divvy ourselves up.