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Work/Life Balance - Juggling it all

If the title of this article attracts your attention, you must be someone who wears a few hats and wants to do well in life despite the challenges. Some may be doing several roles in their work week, while others have family life to juggle with paid/unpaid work and/or business. Whether you look after family members or not, there is still a lot to juggle, because of other interests and relationships outside work. Very few people would say that their work is their life, but even those ones will still have to balance different aspects of such an encompassing job. I personally like variety and enjoy the juggling - when it is going well! I would be bored if I had to focus on just one role for the rest of my life. Being busy seems to be ‘the thing’ among professionals these days, but there is no point in being aimlessly busy and unhappy. The points I am sharing in this article have helped me to juggle marriage, parenting, medical work, writing, voluntary work, entrepreneurship and studying, in a way that gives me more happiness than stress.

Stock - It is worth taking some time out to determine what resources you actually have for the things you want to achieve. Saying ‘yes’ to every opportunity, without checking that you actually have the capacity to deliver, will do you more harm than good. Resources refer to your time, energy, emotional availability and even money. For example, I would not want to have six children, even if I had billions of pounds, because I do not think that I will have enough of the other resources to be a good mum to more children. We can sometimes pleasantly surprise ourselves when unexpected things happen, but it is good to have a sensible plan. Taking stock helps with planning and giving yourself the best chance for success. Another example would be someone who takes on an additional role at work or in the community when they are hardly having enough time for their family with just one job! Mistakes happen, but real winners know how to quit while winning. It is also useful to have a plan for replenishing your stock, so you don’t run out and burn out. When taking stock, remember to consider what resources (time, money etc) you will personally need for your rest and relaxation.

Departments - I like to think of my life as a company with different departments and a vision. The departments refer to different areas of my life and what I hope to achieve in them. Your departments might be business, sport, study, children, marriage, work, church, caring for parents, etc. Even though I am one person with several hats, I find that compartmentalising helps me to juggle better. When there is a problem in one area, I can try to keep functioning in another area until the storm passes. It is not worth breaking down because one department has an issue, when there is so much more to be grateful for in other departments. Of course, some departments carry more weight than others, and problems there can totally cripple you if you let them. Recognising this has helped me in prioritising, so that I look after the top priority departments (such as marriage and children) by investing more time and emotional energy there when I can. If you have too many departments running, it might be worth shutting some down to make more time/energy for others. I recently closed down my babysitting business, and am enjoying having more time for family and other projects.

Evaluations - Without regular reflection, people can look back and realise that they have wasted years achieving nothing. There are rarely accidental successes. What is all the juggling about? What worked last year may not necessarily be working this year. My idea of a dream job has changed several times over the past few years, as my children have come and grown. Taking time out to evaluate how we spend our time and other resources will help us be effective and happy jugglers. I often see young professionals who work all hours and complain about their poor health, family life and spiritual life. Work in itself is not bad, but we need to be careful that we are not missing out on life! What will be most important in 20 or 40 years? If we carry on as we are at the moment, where do we see ourselves ending up? I would rather have less money and more time for the people and things I love. I would rather have a small car and less debt. I would rather have a few real friends and less parasites or fakes. Only you know what success and happiness means for you. Evaluate your progress regularly and check that you are actually on track. We all have to retrace our steps from time to time, and that’s okay. Do your best, focus on the good and keep changing for the better.

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