Balancing Your Three Ps…Passion, Personality, and Primary Responsibilities

Do you have it? Do you even know what it is? You know, THE it, what you’ve spent your entire life seeking. Your perfect life. The perfect career. Complete alignment with all aspects of your life….the balance between your Three Ps – your passions, personality, and primary responsibilities in life…..

Not often do we hear from someone who has figured it all out. I certainly haven’t yet, although I’m closer than I’ve ever been. I’ve figured out the passion part. My personality….I’m fairly comfortable with that, a feat which took several decades of work. And my primary responsibilities, well, those are still a work in progress.

That might seems a bit backward. After all, for a parent, we know what our primary responsibility is, right? It’s our children. Hardly a parent out there would argue that point. And for those without children, it’s often times a partner. Sometimes it’s a pet. As Boomer parents age, one’s primary responsibility often shifts to that of caretaker, a reversal of roles both ironic and fitting. Many times, given which of these situations we find ourselves in, we assume we will know what are primary responsibilities are and how they’ll fit into our individual master plan.

But that’s just the rub, you see….it’s just not that simple. For starters, our primary responsibilities are the most constantly changing of the three Ps. Take me, for example. Two decades ago, my primary responsibility was as a new spouse, building a vision of the future together. Then came the kids, and that vision changed as the inevitabilities of parenthood sank in. Fast forward another decade, and no longer are my primary responsiblities to entertain, shield, and dictate every aspect of the lives of my two kids. Nope, as the now single dad to two teenagers, my role is more of mentor, guide, and confidante. And in another five to ten years, that responsibility will again shift to being a peer adult and friend to my daughters.

And just as my primary responsibilities have shifted, so too has the challenge of balancing them with the other Ps – my individual passions and my personality.

For me, my individual passions include learning, reading, sports, and the outdoors. Summers were spent in the northwoods exploring the woods and lakes by day, with books and smores in the evening. Winters were for nordic skiing and more reading. And as an adult, while I lost sight of those passions for a time, I’ve returned to those preferred passions. The only difference now, an occasional evening glass of wine in place of hot cocoa and spiced cider.

Personality, while it also shifts over time, remains fairly constant throughout one’s life as well, at least in comparison to the changes in responsibilities. I’ve always been fairly introverted, only fluctuating slightly over time. On the Meyer Briggs Type Indicator, I’m an ISTP. Since my military years, my J was replaced by the P, a shift likely more indicative of changed work environments than anything.

Alright then…back to the original question. Have I found it? I think I have, at long last. At least, I know what it is, even if I haven’t arrived fully quite yet. I know where I’m heading, and I can see “the promised land,” that center of my own Venn diagram of passions, personality, and primary responsibilities. For me that center involves teaching, writing, and life-long learning. It involves focusing on my health and physical well-being, while also balancing that with the establishment of joint personal goals and aspirations with a partner.

And like I said….I haven’t yet arrived, but the journey’s just begun and already I’ve figured out where I’m going. And ultimately that should be the progressive goal for all of us…first to figure out where we’re going, and only then to proceed down the path along which we’ll reach that place of balance. That, my friends, is the key to self-development.

So, do you have it already? Or do you know what it is? Or are you still merely seeking the vision of balance in your life, the place where your Three Ps overlap and reinforce each other?

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