We all know the story of Goldilocks and the three bears. A young girl wanders into a strange house in the woods and upon tasting three different bowls of porridge pronounces one too hot, one too cold, and the final bowl: just right.
The Goldilocks “principle” can be applied to a wide range of concepts. It encapsulates the idea that success is found within certain margins, not at the extremes.
Within the continuum of a balanced and yet exciting lifestyle, it can be difficult to avoid the extremes, especially the zenith of work.
We have evolved to engage in productive work, as opposed to idleness. Our bodies and minds are built for action. Performance is a natural source of internal and external gratification, pride, and satisfaction: foundational ingredients for happiness and fulfillment.
I am a huge fan of work.
However, the combination of intoxicating rewards and social norms around what career success looks like can create a vacuum. Our capability to engage in other aspects of living atrophies, leaving us overly dependent on our careers.
This is purposefully designed momentum.
I offer you a job and then give you a slight raise every year while you increase your spending in turn. I encourage you and reward you for your performance while you work more hours and distance yourself further from non-career rewards from activities like exercise and reading.
Before long, it’s nearly impossible to stop and consider where your trajectory is taking you and what alternative possibilities exist. You focused on the next project, the next raise, the next promotion. Without a disruptive role model or unexpected change, it’s easier to continue down this path than to catalyze change on your own.
The porridge was just right in the beginning, but it’s cooled down so slowly that you really haven’t taken the time to notice that it’s not as tasty or filling as before.
A fulfilling life/work style combines work and play, structure and freedom, autonomy and relationships.
Porridge is pretty boring, so why not make something more interesting and exciting out of our daily lives?
Work hard when we work.
Play hard just as often.
Invest in strong, positive relationships.
Learn, evolve, and become stronger physically and mentally.
Do some good.
Attempt to combine all of the above whenever possible.
Not too hot. Not too cold. Just right.