A little love goes a long way

Author, researcher, and speaker Marcus Buckingham has spent his career studying what it takes to feel happy, successful, and engaged at work. And in this podcast interview, he shared a study and a resulting interpretation that I found fascinating.

The less time you spend doing things you love, the more at risk you are of burning out on whatever you’re doing. One study by the Mayo Clinic showed that when doctors spent less than 20% of their time doing things they loved, each percentage point below 20% carried a commensurate percentage point increase in burnout risk.

But data has also shown that spending more than 20% of your time in activities you love doesn’t decrease the burnout risk. 20% is all you need.

Buckingham then extrapolates his argument that work-life balance is a myth. There is no work and life separation, where the good of life must balance the bad of work. There is just life, and work is part of it, as is family, community, etc. Some of it we lean into, others we’re repelled by. Don’t strive for balance. Strive for imbalance. Spend more time leaning into those things that invigorate you, whatever they are. You won’t just increase your resiliency to those things that drain you—you’ll also lead a happier, more fulfilling life.

We’ll never love everything we do. And that’s OK. A little love goes a long way.