Sports psychologists tell us that athletes who play one sport experience burnout at much higher rates than athletes who play a variety of sports. The principle is true across the board: no matter how good something is, whether a sport, a career, a relationship, or an investment, it’s diversity in all those areas that makes life richer.
Are you someone who focuses your life in just a few areas? Or, are your interests varied and your experiences diverse? Here’s a great example of how life diversification can work. Take PGA golfer Brandt Snedecker, who won the 2012 PGA tour championship, and also the Fed Ex Cup, for a whopping $11.4 million purse. It would be easy to assume Brandt’s victory was due to his exponential driving ability and fantastic putting (in this tournament he was number one for both). But that’s only part of the picture.
In an interview, Brandt said he has learned a powerful lesson as he has gotten older: Having balance in his life gives him a better golf game. These days, Brandt says, he doesn’t practice as much as he used to (sounds counter-intuitive, doesn’t it?). He works out in the gym much less. He gives more time to family. The results? A renewed sense of well-being, a better mental state, and, he feels, an overall a better golf game.
How about you? Are you someone who focuses your life in just a few areas? Or, are your interests varied and your experiences diverse? Think of the following important areas of life. Rank them from one to 12 in order of their importance to you:
1. Relationships—family and friends
2. Marriage and parenting
3. Career / school
4. Spiritual life
7. Physical activity
8. Travel and leisure
9. Arts and nature
11. Community service/volunteerism
12. Down time
Now, consider how you’re allocating your time to these areas. Is it spread out or concentrated in only a few areas? While each person is different, variety will diversify who you are and enrich your life.
This lesson is as true for young people as it is for adults. Excessive pressure to achieve at academics or sports can cause teens to over-allocate their time and energy in those two areas, leaving little time for family, hobbies, and just plain ol’ “down time.” Whether you’re 16 or 60, this is a sure-fire recipe for burnout and it’s becoming increasingly common in the younger generation.
For all of us, making time for family, and for meaningful activities that enrich our life, will reduce our stress and burnout—and may actually help us perform better at the other things we do! Yes, variety is the spice of life!
Have you learned how to create balance in your life? How have you done it? Or, are you one who is looking for ways to diversify your life? Please share your comments and questions below; we’d love to have this conversation with you!