Many Magic players struggle to maintain balance as they start the grinder lifestyle. Players who fail to find the right blend of Magic and outside commitments can burn out mentally. I struggled with this myself last year when I still was grinding the Grand Prix circuit. There was a span last summer when I was gone for ten weekends in a row, and Magic completely consumed my life.

Let’s explore the ways to balance Magic with your real life commitments, social life, and personal wellbeing. These tips can go a long way to developing good habits during the grind.

Real Life Commitments

This category may seem vague, but let’s narrow it down to work. Balancing work with Magic is really important, because for most people work funds their travel and play. The first step is managing your days off for Magic travel. I generally try to save my days off for two types of trips. The first kind are the events that last a few days. When I went to the Pro Tour I saved up all my days off and took off a week there to enjoy my time there. I do take off an extra day for the Invitational as well as those events start Friday so I like to get there early Thursday Evening.

The other times I take off additional days are for events where I will see a lot of friends. I will take off that Friday and go and spend the day enjoying the city. One event that comes to my mind is GP Orlando 2018, where a bunch of friends and myself went to Universal Studios for the day. I generally do not travel out to the west coast for many events, because I would have to take an extra day off work and it is not cost effective.

Beyond single events, balancing work commitments requires planning and budgeting over time. This boils down to knowing what you can afford and being responsible. Magic is expensive, and so is traveling every weekend. Being able to balance all of your expenses is one of the hardest things to do. Everyone has that FOMO feeling when it comes to missing an event, but it is more important to miss a tournament to pay bills. To save money, you can book your hotels early when you know you are going and same with your flights. You can also pick and choose your events, rather than going to a tournament each weekend. Managing your resources in life is no different then you would in a game of Magic. Don’t overextend yourself.

Social Life

A healthy social life will help manage burn out. Diversifying your friend groups can help distract you from Magic a bit and help you stay on track. You can make plenty of friends on the grind, but they will always be there at the next event. Even within my Magic friend group, we generally do not talk Magic when socializing to keep it separate. Find fun social activities that don’t involve Magic. And remeber family functions. Making sure you do not skip these will help keep you refreshed.

Personal Wellbeing

You have to be able to keep your mind balanced to avoid burnout. Pay attention to your body and your health. Some people can handle heavy travel better than others. Growing up I always traveled a lot, so for me it is not a big deal to live out of a suitcase. But if you need time at home to recharge between events, plan for that. Being overstretched or feeling stressed out can deplete your mental preparation and hurt your Magic game.

More generally, it is important to take breaks during a tournament season. You don’t always want to wait until you need a break to take one. For example, I had prior engagements and had to miss SCG Cleveland last weekend, but it also started a month break from traveling. This scheduled break has helped me regain focus, composure, and balance in all aspects of my life. Now when SCG Richmond comes in May, I will be ready to battle amongst the best again.

Using these tools to be able to keep your life in order while traveling a lot is very important. Being able to balance everything will help prevent burnouts and help you moving forward on the grind. Losing track of your life balance can reduce your success in tournaments. Take care of yourself!

Zack is a SCG grinder with one ultimate goal: getting to the Players Championship. Based out of NYC, you can find him in other cities every weekend trying to hit that goal. When he isn’t traveling he streams. Follow his journey on Twitter!

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