When Have You Done Enough With Your Passions?

 Photo via  Flickr

Photo via Flickr

It's no secret: when you're working your passion, you're going to get consumed. There's always going to be one more thing to do, one more word to write, one more calculation to make, one more person to connect with. In all honesty, it's never going to end.

So how do you do decide when to call it quits for the day? When have you done enough to feel that you've accomplished what you are meant to do?

I have this same problem, so here are three questions I ask myself that let me know that I can take a break and do others things (eat, sleep, see other lifeforms besides my cat).

Have I made progress?

This is a straightforward one, but it's so easy to forget that where I am today is not where I was yesterday. They say "slow and steady wins the race" but I'm more in the camp of "fast and steady challenges me to excel." So when I'm looking at what I've accomplished for the day, if I see some major progress towards my goals, that's a good sign (but not the only one) that I can stop.

Are other areas in my life suffering?

When your head is down and you're constantly focused on one thing, the rest of your life can suffer. If I look around and see that my relationships with other people have significantly declined, that's usually a sign to move on from what I'm doing. People are important in life, and sometimes they're the ones that either inspire you to continue on or will actively help you in your journey to living out your passions.

Another area is my personal health. If I'm gaining (or losing) a significant amount of weight, seeing changes in my body from eating unhealthy (too much or too little) amounts of food, or my general fitness and ability to do daily tasks (climb a few flights of stairs) is diminished, then it's time to make a change. Spending a few minutes reassessing my activities keeps me in check and reminds me that a healthy body is part of a healthy mind. They are connected and if I don't take care of myself, I won't be able to do my best work.

Can it wait until tomorrow?

Sometimes things can't wait. If there's a deadline for submission, or I want to meet someone before they leave town, or I just have the inspiration for something that I know won't be there tomorrow, I may have to put in extra hours. On the other hand, if I really take the time to honestly evaluate whether or not today or tomorrow will make much of a difference, sometimes it won't. Yes, doing something today is almost always better than waiting until tomorrow, but you can't do everything today. So by prioritizing, I do what I can and then decide if I really need to spend that extra hour working on the next task or will it still be there tomorrow.

These are a few of questions I ask myself, and I'm not perfect. I'm regularly reminded by my friends that I've dropped off the face of the earth. I'm also regularly reminded by my body that I'm not getting any younger and I need to pay attention to the signs. And I'm known for burning the midnight oil on more than one occasion to do that "one last thing." However, it's a work in progress, as life always is, and I think (hope) I'm getting better at it.

What do you do to decide whether or not you've done enough today?

- Ryan