Like many projects, life is often a balancing act between work and pleasure | Column

The plan sounds so simple: Work less, take things a bit easier, and see if I can move into a slightly slower pace of life. The reality has been a bit more difficult. 

My inspiration has come from people I’ve met over the years. Some, those a bit older than me, seem to have things figured out. I envy that. They’ve gotten their health and finances to the point where, after working so hard early on, they can travel at will and enjoy the good life. 

At 61, I’m still pretty young and still have time, but I seem to be getting further from and not closer to this end game. The company’s doing well and just weathered a global pandemic, but we’re still working harder than ever. I think we have the best team we’ve ever had, and we are certainly firing on all cylinders, but between my inability to let go and the constant race to deliver more engaging content, I have been busy. And busy is an understatement. 

I wonder if a little project creep isn’t to blame for tipping my work/life balance in the wrong direction. Perhaps? 

What once was just a little family-operated car magazine has turned into two titles, each with its own website, social media channels and a full-time video department. Then add in our events that have me traveling constantly as I plan routes, visit partners and shake hands.

And there’s my personal life: I’m hustling to keep two 40-year-old houses maintained as well as 20-plus cars–and, as always, I like to do as much of the work myself as possible. 

For some reason, I just can’t stop restoring old stuff. It has gotten so bad that I just redid a vintage travel trailer that I don’t have time to use, and I’m currently rebuilding a badly damaged, complicated old sports racer that I’m probably too scared (or too smart) to actually race.

Sure, the magazines and websites and videos constantly need content, and I use that as an excuse, but my poor editor is also trying to keep up with all my projects. He has made it clear that I could back off a bit.

But with all of that time home during the pandemic, I just doubled down on working in the shop. Idle hands are the devil’s playthings, after all.

So I have been trying to figure out how to cut back. What, after all, is most important? And how can I shed responsibilities without having remorse? Prepping things for sale also requires time, further contributing to the treadmill of life and adding not insignificant pressure to an already perilous situation.

If you’re younger than me, I guess you might want to heed my warning. And if you’re older than me and have already come to this same conclusion, then you’re probably chuckling at my dilemma.

Of course, I know what will happen. Let’s say, hypothetically, that I pare things down to a reasonable load. Someone–a friend, a reader, a co-conspirator–will call with the perfect restoration candidate and egg me on to tackle it.

Heck, that’s actually happening right now, as I have a ’52 Morgan stuck out in California because I haven’t been willing to travel this past year to go get it.

I promise that one day, I’ll figure out how to break this cycle and develop a healthy work/life balance.

One day.

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