A few days ago, I posted about the tragic death of a young lady who was part of my life when I was in college and she was a toddler. You can read that post here.
Sadly, I was unable to attend her funeral. I learned of the accident that took her life late on Thursday night and the funeral was on Saturday. I live in Indiana, and her funeral was in North Carolina.
My inability to get to North Carolina to lend my support to people who were a big part of my early adulthood saddened me equally as much as hearing of Krystal's death.
In reflecting on the events of the last few days, I see that the problem is one of margin.
To explain what I mean, I'll lean on my background as an engineer.
In my engineering design classes, I learned about the concept of design or safety margin — a factor built into design calculations to allow for minor errors, miscalculations, under estimations, and other variables that are difficult to accurately determine.
While I was in the Navy and learning to become an Engineering Officer, I learned about the specific margins that were built into both the submarine and the engineering plant to ensure safe operation.
Later, when I was working as a research engineer in the chemical industry, I used the concept of design margin as I developed new products and worked with customers to get our products qualified for their applications.
Safe engineering design always considers, allows for, and builds in some margin for safety.
This weekend, I became eminently aware of the lack of margin in my life. I didn't have enough time margin to safely make the 12-hour one-way drive in the time I had between learning of Krystal's death and her funeral. I didn't have enough financial margin to jump on a plane and go.
Do I have enough time to live up to my immediate commitments? Yes. Do I have enough financial margin to meet my financial obligations? Yes.
And having enough to meet the minimum requirements does not create margin.
Just as the concept of margin applies to our schedule and our budgets, it also applies to our personal and professional relationships. For example, do you have enough margin in your relationships to…
- Withstand a communication error?
- Make it through a misunderstanding of intention?
- Survive a missed appointment?
- Last beyond a forgotten task?
I don't propose that I have a “silver bullet” answer for creating more margin. I do find myself thinking about it a lot the last few days.
I suppose that each person has to find his own way to create margin in his life. So, as we prepare to end 2010 and begin 2011, I'll share the question with you that I've been asking myself:
What will you do, starting now, to create more time, financial, and relationship margin in your life?
This is a big question to consider, and it relates directly to how you set your goals for next year.
If you have suggestions for me or others reading this post that might help in this process, please leave a comment below.
If you have specific questions about setting better goals, my friend and colleague, Kevin Eikenberry, is leading a free teleseminar on December 21 to address goal setting issues. You can leave your question for him and register here.