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Finding the Work - Life Balance
by Dr. Dale V. Atkins, February 2010

It is possible to have balance in your life IF you understand that, like a see-saw, balance takes some delicate shifting and constant monitoring. Invariably, life, like that see-saw, will have someone jumping off the other end and send you flying. That's life, but also part of the balancing act.

Some times are much more challenging than others. The way to deal with the everyday and the unexpected is to have a formula in place. Instead of hanging on to old habits which may not work anymore, think about what makes your life work.

Visualize yourself juggling lots of life balls (name each one: children, partner, work, friends, housekeeping, community service, fitness, social life, older parents, spiritual life, hobbies, etc.) and notice that when one or more balls fall, you likely focus on those rather than the ones you are still juggling.

Some of those balls on the floor need to be put down for a while; a day, a week, a year, longer, while some balls get bigger and smaller. The work ball may be manageable until your peer gets laid off and you are now handling more of a workload than is reasonable. The family ball may be manageable until you pick up the phone and learn that your father who lives 2,000 miles away had a stroke and your brother is out of the country. So, putting those balls down when you have to in order to keep balance is a healthy thing to do.

The one ball you don't want to put down, no matter what is going on, is the "take care of me" ball. You need to keep that one in the air (a walk in the morning, a quiet meditation, reading a list of the things you are grateful for, etc.). This is the ball that allows you to keep many of the others in the air.

Work life balance is about maintaining reasonable expectations, understanding that things will be out of balance from time to time. Everything is temporary. You focus on small areas of your life to maintain balance during particularly difficult times (bringing your best friend with you when go to a scary doctor's appointment), keeping your eye on the important aspects of life, being grateful for that which you already have, taking care of yourself, being as organized as possible (so you find your keys quickly) inviting, training, and allowing people to help (teaching your partner or your kids how to shop for food, prepare healthy meals), appreciate and be satisfied with "less than perfect."

So, take a breath, be fully present, smile, and appreciate that moment.

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