Monday, December 13, 2010

Margins of Victory

Margin: an amount beyond the minimum necessary.  In light of the hustle and bustle that surrounds the holiday season, I wanted to take a moment to discuss the importance of life’s “margins of victory.”  In life unexpected things happen at unexpected times, and many times, especially during the holidays, we tend to balance such full schedules that even the slightest tip of the scale will create complete chaos.  So in order to prevent the marginable losses, you need to have the collateral to cover the risks.

Margin: the blank space that surrounds the text on a page.  On paper you can jot down notes and thoughts in the margins, in life you can utilize your margins for life’s mishaps.  Last March, as I was on vacation with my family in Florida, I received a call that my mother had become ill.  I immediately came back to see her through emergency surgery, and it has taken the past nine months to help her through her recovery.  Due to my margins, I was allowed some freedom to move within the limits and endure the ups and downs of my mother’s recovery without complete derailment from the other aspects in my life; work, social engagements, etc.  On a smaller scale, what about when your children get sick and it’s necessary to miss work to take them to the doctor?  Having that extra sick day sure does come in handy, or when there’s a car accident on your way to work in the morning it’s a good thing you got up 15 minutes early…right?

Margin: an additional amount or one beyond the minimum necessary; a margin of error.  With the holiday season comes the shopping and the social gatherings.  Then there’s your shopping list, and the little time you have to check off everything on the list; now add something haphazard happening like your car breaking down.  Worst case scenario: it was the only time you had to finish your holiday shopping, now you don’t have a car to get around in, and you have to use the shopping money to pay for your car so you can get to work and back.  Now you don’t even have the money to buy the remainder of your list!  However, if you allowed for a margin of error, your schedule would be a little more flexible so that you could go shopping another day and you’d have money set aside to pay for your car so that your shopping budget isn’t affected.  And in a perfect world, you’d have that extra paid day off work to use while your car is getting fixed; hindsight’s 20/20.

Margin: the boundary line or the area immediately inside the boundary.  So the takeaway is to set margins.  Wake up a littler earlier, budget and set aside money from each paycheck, practice good time management, and plan ahead, but be flexible when possible. If you don’t allow yourself a margin, the boundaries and limits to what you’re capable of are much closer to where you already are.