When you leave work at 5, get home at 5:30, and plan to sleep at 11, you have six hours to do things. You might relax for 30 minutes, do chores for an hour, then prepare dinner and eat with your family. Around 8, you tuck the kids in for the night – and then you still have three hours left. You could watch a whole movie and still read for an hour before turning off the lights.
When you leave work at 6, you’ll likely cut the relaxing. You’ll scramble to do your chores and make dinner in time, as a result of which you’ll bring your kids to bed late. By the time you finally fall down on the couch at 9, you’ll still have two hours left – but now, given you didn’t have any time to relax before, that doesn’t feel like enough. You were running around all day! You deserve more than two hours! As a result, you’ll either stay up way too late (“I’m taking what is mine!”) or go to bed angry.
When you leave work at 7, you’ll barely have time to make dinner, let alone eat in peace. All hopes of the kids sleeping early go out the window. Whatever time for recovery is left feels like a taunt more so than a break. “Really? I get 10 minutes of downtime?” You’ll still be angry about the lack of time, but you’ll also be disappointed with yourself. “I’m a terrible adult. I have let myself and my family down.”
Somewhere between 5 and 7 PM, there is a sound barrier for “leaving work on time.” As long as you go home before crossing it, you’ll feel anything from great to okay about your day. Once you blow past it, however, nothing can save the day. The only question is how bad you’ll feel by the end of it.
A similar sound barrier lies between 1 and 3 AM. It is the one for “leaving the club to save the next day.” Go to bed between 1 and 2, and you can get in eight hours by 10 AM. Not too bad. Go to bed at 3 or 4, and you might as well sleep till 3.
There are many sound barriers in life, falling into the most varied places for each of us. Like the real sound barrier, you can never see them, but you’ll always feel it when you smash through. Despite being invisible, sound barriers are something you can look for – if only by accidentally crossing their lines.
Wherever you feel your contentment short-shifted, or your happiness falling short of its potential, find the sound barrier. Learn to observe the hidden boundaries in your life, for treating them with respect means nothing more than giving yourself the appreciation and dignity you deserve.