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Archive for March 24th, 2012

Dear Friends,

Work/life balance continues to be a goal for most people. Lately, even high school and college students are trying to find ways to keep their lives in balance and they haven’t even started living their complete lives as a full-time worker or having a family of their own. The fact is, everybody is busier because the fast pace in which we live these days is unsustainable. In the end, something has to give–our relationships, our health, our jobs, or our families. Some young couples I’ve talked to recently are opting to not have children because it’s not only too costly but they don’t see how they can make the time it takes to raise them.

I’ve been hearing lately about the issue of “juggling” versus “balancing” your life. I read an article a few months ago that said it’s not about balancing anymore, it’s about juggling. However, I tend to disagree. I believe that if a person is not in balance to begin with it is very difficult to juggle all the responsibilities they have going on at the same time. If you picture a real life juggler, what do they look like while juggling? They are experts and have been practicing for a long time but the first thing I notice is that they are balanced before they can juggle even two balls. No matter if they are standing on one foot or two feet or on top of a table or just on the ground, the most important thing is that they have to be balanced before they even start juggling the balls in the air.

I looked up the word “juggle” and, among other definitions, this is the one I thought fit most of us in what we’re trying to do: “to manage or alternate the requirements of (two or more tasks, responsibilities, activities, etc.) so as to handle each adequately: to juggle the obligations of job and school.” Sometimes we are successful at juggling several things and sometimes we are not. We need to know and recognize our individual limits as to how many things we can handle at one time.

Work/life balance is not 50/50 like some people think because that would mean 50% of your week you work and 50% of your week you spend time with your family and doing the other things you enjoy. 50% of your week represents 84 hours per week! That is, in my opinion as a full-time worker myself, an unsustainable amount of work, at least for most people. “50/50” doesn’t mean you work 50% of your time and do the rest of your life in the remaining 50%. Work/life balance means that you make choices each day to have an overall balanced life. It means you have a healthy amount of work and a healthy amount of time to be with your family and do the rest of your activities.

In our everyday lives we already automatically juggle many tasks, situations, work, school, and family life. Each section of our lives is represented by a ball we have to juggle—if we use the analogy of the juggler. When we have too many balls in the air—meaning too many things going on or too many responsibilities or commitments—we may end up dropping one of them (or sometimes all of them) or burning out just trying to keep all the balls up in the air. Either way we look at it we cannot juggle even two balls if we are not first in balance—standing firmly on our two feet.

The other factor we must remember is that many times we don’t ask for help and try to do it all on our own thinking that if we succeed at it, then we become super heroes or that people will respect us more. Don’t fall for that trap. Ask for help! If you don’t, you will end up frustrated, burnt out, and it will not be worth it in the end. Someone will get hurt and something will not get done or fall apart.

The key message here is—you cannot juggle if you’re not in balance. It is by being in balance to begin with that you can juggle everything else in your life.

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