Life+Stuff: The hotplates

American author David Sedaris tells a story that neatly sums up my dilemma.  Daffodils

It’s about hotplates.

One day he is driving with his friend she tells him that if he ever wants to be really successful, he will have to start turning off hotplates.

‘Huh?’ I hear you say. No, this isn’t some obscure cooking tip. The hotplates represent areas of your life; Health, Family, Friends, Career.

The idea is that if you want to be truly brilliant at any one thing, you have to focus. The price of that focus is ignoring other things, or ‘turning off hotplates’.

My problem is that I want to do it all.

As it is, I barely see my family, I don’t exercise enough, I’m overweight and I don’t have the energy to go to every birthday party, launch or exhibition that I get invited to.

The thing is I’m really trying but I just can’t do it. I can’t give up my career (I need to pay the rent) and I refuse to give up my health. This leaves friends and family. I’ve already lost touch with loads of friends so I guess you could say I turned that hotplate down.

But then what? Aren’t friends and family the heart of a happy life? And what about time to yourself? How on earth do people do this grown-up life thing?

The ultimate question is, ‘Is it OK to be mediocre in return for a balanced life?’

What do you think?



6 comments on “Life+Stuff: The hotplates

  1. Perhaps the advice of C. Montgomery Burns is appropriate here:

    “I’ll keep it short and sweet. Family. Religion. Friendship. These are the three demons you must slay if you wish to succeed in business.

    When opportunity knocks, you don’t want to be driving to a maternity hospital or sitting in some phony-baloney church. Or synagogue.”

    (He followed this up later, with this thought: “I’ve heard quite enough from those slack-jawed troglodytes. What good is money if it can’t inspire terror in your fellow man?”).

  2. I really like this take on life ….

    We have stopped for a moment to encounter each other, to meet, to love, to share. This is a precious moment but it is transient. It is a little parenthesis in eternity. If we share caring, lightheartedness, and love, we will create abundance and joy for each other. And then this moment will be worthwhile. –Deepak Chopra.

    I believe that we have to make time for that which is dearest to us, the rest has a way of falling into place.

  3. I think you’re being too hard on yourself. Life is a balancing act and most people know what it is like to have to juggle sometimes conflicting aspects of your life.
    Remember true friends will understand when your busy and won’t hold it against you. Family will appreciate what time you can spend with them. Your career is there for you to be able to live your life, it shouldn’t run it. And your health is more about how you feel rather than what the scales say.

    Take a deep breathe, stop worrying about other people’s expectations and do what works best for you. Everyone else will get used to eventually.

  4. I agree with Rachel. Pretty much all of it. And nothing is permanent. So if you’re choosing a heavy year of career focus, remember it’s only a year.
    And why would a balanced life equal mediocrity? It’s something everyone strives for. And when we feel that we have it, I’m guessing those questions of doubt don’t come up anymore?

    Take it easy on yerself. 🙂

  5. It’s not being mediocre my dear. It’s about living in the present.
    “Focus on the present, the future will take care of itself.” – Richard Branson.

    Never be mediocre. Be all that you can be. People will love you and accept you for who you are. Love yourself and others will follow.

  6. I vote that you turn up the ‘family’ hotplate as we would love to see more of you! The spare room eagerly awaits you anytime you can find some time. xxxxx

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