Sunday, March 6, 2011

I Pick All Three

You know the menu option at Panera Bread called “You Pick Two”? Among a salad, sandwich and soup, you can choose two of the three. I don’t eat at Panera often, but I never stray from “You Pick Two” when I do go. Why would I want to limit myself to just one thing, when I can have two different items? Sometimes I want all three, but sadly there is no “Have It All” option on the menu.

Choosing two out of three options reminds me of something I heard as I began college in – eek! – 1999. In my senior year of high school, I decided I didn’t want to pursue collegiate soccer unlike the rest of my team – which spurs another ancient memory: “beat ‘em, bust ‘em, that’s our custom, come on Hatters, readjust ‘em”. Wow, I haven’t thought of that fine cheer in quite some time – now you can see where my superb rhyming skills were learned. But I digress.

I ended up attending preseason at the University of Richmond in order to gain admission from the waiting list. During that time, varsity athletes were the only students on campus, so they were the source of my budding collegiate wisdom. The most important morsel of truth I gleaned was this notion of choosing two out of three appealing options. It was said that of playing a varsity sport, having a vibrant social life and excelling academically, a student could select two priorities. To establish all three was a rarity. I opted for the latter two (not that I had a choice at that point – I definitely wasn’t good enough to play varsity soccer at UR).

Fast forward to today, and I once again feel forced to choose two out of three desirable options. One – continue to pursue my career at full speed; two – rebuild a social life; three – take the best possible care of my heart. I’ve struggled over the past several months to balance all three, and it’s tough. I don’t want to pick two; I want to have it all.

I think the secret to having to having it all is quality over quantity. While I will never be able to maintain a pace that allows social plans several nights each week, going out with friends every other week is certainly doable. While I cannot exercise five times a week and get the amount of sleep I need, I have been able to establish a rhythm of working out twice a week that works with my schedule. While my work is strenuous and time-consuming, I’m focusing on being more efficient and am planning to cut my commute in half over the next few months with a move to Princeton.

In college it was said maintaining all three priorities was a rarity – not an impossibility. Refer to “Beating the Odds” to see if I’m going to try.


  1. Hmm, interesting post since I just asked Chris last week how you were doing and it sounded like you were working MEGA hours. I may not know you well enough to offer an opinion, but . . .I'd say #3 priority without a doubt, #2 you deserve so certainly it needs to get some time, and #3, well maybe not "full speed", but to be continued with a nice balance. My bet is on you for maintaining all three priorities. And your comment about quality over quantity? Wise words everyone should take heed to. Continued good health and peace . . .


  2. You deserve all 3, and I totally think you can have them. You are right to think about what adjustments you can make at work so you can do your best and not keel over. I found building some padding time into my commitments at work gave me room to breathe a little easier. I always felt that if I knew I could get something done in 2 days even if I had to work 6 hours overtime, I would commit to it. But I found people don't care if you get something to them in 3 days, as long as you give them the timeframe up front. That's not being a slacker, it's being just as respectful of your time and needs as you are of other's time and needs.

    And I've also found that when push comes to shove, work should be number 3 on that list of priorities (even if it's a close race). You aren't doing your career any favors long-term if you aren't healthy enough to be consistent.

    PS- I always want 3 things at Panera too. : )