“Imagine life is a game in which you are juggling five balls. The balls are called work, family, health, friends and integrity. And you’re keeping all of them in the air. But one day you finally come to understand that work is a rubber ball. If you drop it, it will bounce back. The other four balls – family, health, friends, integrity – are made of glass. If you drop one of these, it will be irrevocably scuffed, nicked, perhaps even shattered.” – Suzanne’s Diary for Nicholas, James Patterson
I bet this passage will resonate with you differently depending on where you are in life. For some of my clients, the conversation revolves around that seemingly always-out-of-reach work/life balance. For others, the conversation revolves around which of those five balls is rubber and which is glass.
But it always culminates in the same type of questions:
- How can I keep my job / my career but still maintain good, strong relationships with my family?
- How can I possibly spend any time of the day working out to be healthy when I already feel like I have to pick work or my kids?
- How can I maintain any semblance of friendship with others outside of the house when there’s already such limited time for me and my spouse / partner to just be together?
There’s an underlying theme here, one that hit me square in the eyes as I was reading The One Thing by Gary Keller: balance is really a question of priority.
Think about everything you have going on in your life. Your kids, your partner/spouse, your friends, your job. Now think about where they rank as a priority for you. Don’t let yourself be confused about necessity or desire. Challenge yourself to really see the priorities.
- Is it a priority for you to be present with your kids all day, or is it a desire?
- Is it a priority for you to advance in your career, or is it a desire?
- Is it a priority for you to work out during the day, or a desire?
Define priority. Define desire. Understand the difference between the two.
These are your definitions; no one can tell you what is right or wrong for you. You get to decide.
So here’s the biggest challenge: don’t judge it when you see it. You know what a priority looks like, so start your day by prioritizing the big stuff. What needs to get done today for work? At home? With family?
This will not only help you set stronger and more powerful intentions for your day, but it will also help stay sane, calm and more balanced in a period of great uncertainty and change. It will give you more control over things that may have seemed to be out of or not within your control.
Be honest with yourself. If you drop one of those five balls, what will bounce back and what will break or change in a way that can never be replaced?
Learning how to prioritize work activities, family activities and personal activities is not the hard part. The hard part is learning how not to judge what you decide is a priority for you. Commit to your priorities. You’ll find that what you decide is a priority for you may be the glass ball, after all.
Consider reading Your Check Engine Light