“Quality versus quantity.” That phrase is so ingrained in my psyche that I can’t hear the word “quality” without thinking of its quasi-opposite, “quantity.” But do we have to choose between quality and quantity? And if we do, is quality always the right choice?
It’s not like quality and quantity are really opposites, or mutually exclusive, or at either ends of a seesaw. But we often are asked to prioritize one or the other.
When my kids were little, I think the phrase “quality time” was meant to make me feel better about how little time I spent with my children. I convinced myself that having a few hours together in the evenings was plenty as long as I made it quality time–whatever that meant after a full day’s work and trying to to juggle dinner, homework, and baths.
As a runner, I am told that I can run less frequently and still train for a race as long as I focus on quality runs. Apparently, I can cut out “easy” runs, keep my weekly long runs, and rotate tempo runs, hill repeats, and speed work, and still improve my finish times.
With food, we are told that smaller portions of quality selections can be more satisfying, especially if we take the time to savor what we are eating. I agree with this one, to a point. I am more satisfied with a square of good dark chocolate than I am with a Hershey’s® bar.
But I don’t always want to choose quality over quantity.
Now that my kids are older, I have even less time with them, but it is even harder to orchestrate “quality” time together. Sometimes, I have to make do with quantity–long car rides, watching ALL the football games, running errands–and appreciate the mundane.
As for running, I run because I enjoy running, not because I am aiming for a certain finish time. Yes, I train for my races, but I don’t want to sacrifice “fun” runs just so I can shave a few seconds off a personal record. Easy, “just run” runs may not make the “quality” grade, but they lift my spirits and improve my mood without the risk of disappointment from not meeting a target pace or other expectation. If every run had a purpose, I might miss out on the simple joys of running.
I try to resist the temptation of too much quantity when I’m eating, but I do like a big-ass salad, and I guarantee that a dinky cup of the best espresso Italy has to offer never could replace the pot of coffee I crave in the mornings.
Today’s Wednesday Word is quality.
When might you choose quantity over quality?