Struggling with Juggling?

October 27, 2011 by Lynn Faughey

This Halloween I’ve decided to dress-up as a juggler. Funny hat, puffy shirt, juggling balls…the works. Ok, not really, but some days that’s what I feel like, minus the silly outfit. As I strive to manage work, family, friends and everything else, it begins to feel like I’m just tossing balls in the air from one hand to the next, not really engaging any of them and always on the verge of dropping one.

I guess I’ve started thinking about this lately because the year seems to have flown by. End of year business goals that seemed to be eight months away just yesterday are going to be here…soon! The holidays are, dare I say it, right around the corner. Local stores have sprouted a forest of artificial Christmas trees and I haven’t even bought the Halloween candy yet. Who among us doesn’t have too many balls in the air at any given time? As I plan my schedule for the week, it often seems impossible to accomplish all that needs to be done. Yet, by the end of the week, many tasks have been checked off the list as completed, a few have lost their priority status and several, or course, have been added. Through the miracle of juggling, another week goes by and all the balls are still airborne.

 Each of us can probably say we’ve become expert jugglers when it comes to managing our lives. A typical day involves wearing many hats – parent, employee, boss, coach just to name of few. Regardless of how many hats we have on or how many balls we have in the air, it’s important to keep perspective and most importantly balance. A favorite book of mine, “Suzanne’s Diary for Nicholas”, by James Patterson teaches us to imagine that life is a game in which we are juggling five balls. These balls are named – Work, Health, Family, Friends and Integrity. One of these balls – work, is made of rubber, the other four are glass. If we drop the work ball, it will bounce back. If we drop one of the other four made of glass, it will be damaged or even shatter.

We all want to focus on the glass balls, we want them to be our priority, we want them to be central in our lives. In reality, it’s all too common that the work ball – the rubber one- overpowers the other balls. In order to bring that balance we strive for back into our lives, Patterson’s book has some thought provoking insight. A few of his suggestions include:

*     Don’t set your goals by what other people deem important. Only you know what is best for you.

*     Don’t be afraid to admit you are less than perfect. It is this fragile thread that binds us together.

*     Don’t run through life so fast that you forget not only where you’ve been, but also where you are going.

*     Don’t use time or words carelessly. Neither can be retrieved.

*     Don’t be afraid to encounter risks. It is by taking chances that we learn how to be brave.

I really like Patterson’s analogy of the glass and rubber balls. Of course the work and career ball is a dominant force that controls much of our direction. I also know that as difficult as it might be, if I lost my job tomorrow, the work ball would eventually bounce back and I would find another job. Health, family, friends and integrity are not so easily replaced and I don’t want to take even one of those glass balls for granted. So as I continue to perfect my juggling act, I am much more aware of where that rubber ball is in relation to the glass ones. It may find its way to the top and have its moment now and again, but I can guarantee that it will always fall back into line and take its place behind those glass balls that are so dear to me.

 

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