How to Create and Maintain Margin

I do not have it all together. I have not arrived, nor do I claim that I have. But I do understand who I am and how the life I live affects me, my work, and most importantly, my family. It’s because of this that I have been incredibly intentional about creating and maintaining margin in 2018 and am carrying these principles into 2019.

I recently joined the Authentik community. Why would a guy who has close friendships, leads and hosts a Life Group at his house, coaches his daughter in lacrosse and his son with football, join another community? Isn't that enough?

Sure. It is enough. But it's not about being enough, it's about being right ... for me. 

Brian at Authentik has stated, "You don't need another course; you need community." There's a lot of stuff out there that assumes a direction for you. In fact, if you wanted to create margin, Lynda would give you 30 courses. Udemy has 10, and one that hits the nail on the head. If you want to learn about margin, you could absorb all the information in the world. I don't care to learn more about margin; I want to do margin. So let's reframe the question and ask what really matters: "How does a guy who on the outside is as busy as it gets, have time to do all this?"

The answer is margin, and to get there, I had to learn how to prioritize my life.

There are three central components to margin in my life.

  1. Time
  2. Relationships
  3. Finances

Where we spend time shows what we find valuable.

Time is the only thing we can never get back once it is gone. It's also my wife's love language, and if I don't spend quality time with her and our kids, then everything in our hime life is out of whack. I can spin my wheels (in a good way) and fill my calendar with more meetings with important people, land new higher dollar clients and focus on them, or I can take a step back only allow my calendar to fill up inasmuch as it aligns with my high value on time. If there is an open spot in the calendar and it doesn't affect the family, it's allowed. If not, it's dropped like a hot potato coming off the grill without tongs.

How do I keep margin with my time? 

  • I share calendars with my wife on our iPhones.
  • I black-out weekends, because my kids are out of school.

Who we spend time with determines who we are becoming. 

In a room full of ten Californians and one Texan, the room will eventually slang. The people you are around the most are the largest influencers in life. That's why it is an imperative for me to spend quality time with my children: no one else has the power and ability to affect their futures life Sarah and I.

How much negativity is there in your life, or rather, how many negative people are a constant presence in your life?

I get it; we all have people we need to be around that are just straight up negative. Everyone has that. But that is not who I am talking about. I am speaking to those who allow the negativity infiltrate their daily lives when they don't have to. You have those people, I have those people, and we all need to cut ties and move on.

Just like cutting things off the calendar, there are people we need to cut out of our personal lives.

How do I keep margin with my relationships? 

  • I only allow those who build me up to speak into my life.
  • I cordially invite the toxicity to take a hike.

What we spend money on is a reflection of the heart. 

Ouch. How does this one hit you? I know for me, it used to hit me quite hard. Like, really hard.

I've been challenged a lot on generosity the past few years. I've fought with the master of generosity on who would pick up the tab and have even won a few times. And I have done a ton of research and written on this subject for years in order to help the church become a more effective generosity engine. Because generosity is at the core of who I am, I want to share with you how I create and maintain margin in my finances. Perhaps more than the other two, this is the most important key of them all.

How do I keep margin in my finances? 

  • I value my time and my services.
  • I live a minimalist life (still learning this).

Can we park here for a minute so I can shoot straight with you?

Last week I met with a friend who is starting a new business in the salon industry. He's at the top of his game and travels the world teaching others proper techniques and skills. If you want to become the best of the best, this is the guy you call. We begin to talk about a mutual friend and how amazing he is at blade work. Then I told him how much this mutual friend wanted to charge me for cutting my son's hair. We both took a deep breathe and shook our heads. I paid 4.5 time the amount asked, because this friend of ours didn't know how to value himself.

I think this is a problem for a lot of us. We don't know how to value ourselves, because no one has ever told us how valuable we are. If no one has done this before, let me tell you right now: you are valuable. And you need to learn how to lead with your value and the value you bring to others. If you can't learn this, people will assume the lowest, because what is what you expect.

By now you are probably thinking about that minimalism thing, aren't you?

Look. Living minimalist isn't for everyone ... except I think it is. In the past, people have assumed minimalism has meant stark walls and boring decor. It's not. Minimalism is simply spending money on the things you value. Look around your garage and ask yourself: how much of this would I miss if I got rid of it? This was sobering when I started doing this a few months ago. The fact is, I was holding onto too many things from the past that I simply had no use of.

Minimalism helps you determine your future spending too. It's not just about past clutter, it's about current gathering. It's also why people make fun of Target so much, because you can never leave without spending less than $40. Here's the key for me: I only buy what I need. And if it's something I want, and I have margin, I get it too. But it's not about accumulation for me; it's about surrounding myself with that which bring me value and joy.

There's a common thread to creating and maintaining margin.

It's saying yes to the things that fit and no to those that don't.

Yes, it really is that easy ... after a while. It's never easy at first, but it is the right thing to do. Once you create margin, you will be able to spend more time on the things that bring you joy, you will be able to spend more time with the people that give you life, and you will have the finances to do what you've always wanted to do.

I'm no expert, but I have figured out what works for me. If you want to jam on this a bit and see how I can help you determine what works best for you, hit me up in the comments section or drop me a line on the contact page.