(I3) A Wisdom-Stretching Dilemma, A Story from Marcy Szyablya, Business Woman and Community Leader

For me, there’s never enough money, time or chocolate – which leads to a constant struggle to balance my priorities and control my cocoa habit. Here’s my recent dilemma:

I am committed to a year with a non-profit group as one of three volunteer leaders. A big part of this commitment is a leading a monthly meeting open to all members. On the day of my first meeting as leader, I had a huge reminder on my calendar to leave work promptly at 5 pm to get to the meeting with plenty of time to beat the traffic, set up the room, and meet with my fellow leaders to be sure we understood the agenda and our role.

Just as I was getting ready to close down my computer, my new boss walked into my office asking to rewrite an important message.  Both of us were tired and wanted to be somewhere else, but we worked on it for 40 minutes without coming to a good conclusion. When she said, “I’ve missed my train” and I said, “I’m late for my meeting,” she called a halt to the impromptu session and I left – feeling inadequate in both my job and my volunteer role.

Chocolate did not solve this problem.

As I walked to my car and waded through traffic, frantic to be less late to the meeting, I tried to put my experience into Radical Decency perspective.

  • My job means a lot to me, not only for the money it brings me and my family, but because I work with wonderful, caring people who appreciate me and let me do really good, satisfying work.
  • My volunteer work is a huge commitment that I need and want to honor. It means personal growth, helping others and the world (in the think globally, act locally sense).
  • It’s all about choosing – between seemingly equal priorities.

In the end, I walked the middle ground – relying on the support of my fellow leaders, I made it to the meeting with just enough time to prepare and have a meaningful and fun meeting, which felt really good.  Yet I fell short of my own expectations.  At work, my boss took the load for the message, which we continued to work on through the next day, which didn’t feel so good and fell short of my expectations.

Sometimes I choose in ways that work well and sometimes it never feels right. Sometimes, I just eat chocolate.  What do you think? What works for you in making the choices we have to make every day in the face of conflicting priorities?