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Life is a Circus:
How to Juggle Your Life and Keep it in Balance

By Dr. Nancy D. O’Reilly

Mary is an Ivy League graduate, with top honors in accounting. She recently became a Certified Public Accountant and landed a job in one of the city's top accounting firms. She prepared herself for a future as a partner in the firm. Married to her college sweetheart, Mary believes all of her hopes and dreams are coming true! Ted is her talented attorney-husband, who has also hit his career stride and is counting the days until he becomes a full partner. Both of them want a family and a house. Perfection is something they both seek, and they both believe with hard work, patience and diligence, everything is possible. Sounds wonderful, doesn't it?

Unfortunately, reality has hit Mary and Tom hard. They work long hours and barely have time to eat together, much less time to talk about their hopes and dreams for the future. Mary feels pressure to meet deadlines at work and is finding her hours only increase as the work keeps piling up. She arrives home tired and irritable, avoiding the chores that await her. Tom also has deadlines and feels pressure to be a top-performer at work. He is expected to bring in new business and take care of existing accounts. After a long day at work, he arrives home to find Mary as irritable and overwhelmed as he is. Instead of sharing their thoughts and trying to relax with each other, they are both pre-occupied with their chaotic schedules. Does this situation sound familiar?

Mary and Ted know they must find some kind of resolution before their marriage and livelihoods are compromised by the stress they feel. Mary, a great multi-tasker, has started looking into different kinds of resources they might benefit from. Her friends tell her it is time to get some help around the house and not feel guilty about it. Ted takes Mary's lead and starts asking friends and colleagues about social activities that he and Mary can share together.

Finally! The situation is on its way to being resolved. Both Ted and Mary are finding ways to juggle their work and home responsibilities. What can you do to improve your own life circus?  Here are some of tips you can implement to find more peace and less chaos in your schedule:

1. Take care of you. Are you being accountable for your own care? Not just physical, but mental and emotional health are important, too. When was the last time you saw your doctor, got a haircut or went to the gym? Create a list and start making a change for the better. Join a local fitness club, get involved with community service, find a church or social organization to build relationships. Eat right, exercise, reduce your stress levels and find time to socialize and renew old friendships. Take up new hobbies or renew your interest in old ones. You can even go online and connect!

2. Outsource your household responsibilities. You can start off by calling a cleaning service! After all, hiring someone to help with chores and cleaning could reduce your workload and give you more free time to do the stuff you actually enjoy like spending time with family and friends. Many companies offer different kinds of support personnel to do chores like dusting, mopping, cleaning, laundry and even some light shopping. You can even hire someone on a weekly or monthly basis. Don’t feel guilty about it, either! Everyone needs extra help at one point or another.

3. Hire someone for your outside chores. Mowing the grass, cleaning up the yard and doing household repairs can take up a lot of spare time, even if they’re done during the weekend. If you want to spend more time with loved ones or friends, or even find time for the hobbies you once loved doing, look into a yard service or hire a neighborhood kid to help.

4. Review your job responsibilities. You may be spending extra time on duties that could easily be passed on to an assistant or secretary. If there isn’t already a support staff in place, confer with your boss or supervisor to see if there is budget to hire someone for this kind of help. Maybe you can find a part-time intern who is willing to help, in exchange for college credit or an hourly wage. Review your job on regular basis and assess where you want to be.

5. Work with your colleagues. When you offer to help your co-workers with their client accounts and projects, don’t feel guilty about asking for their help when you need it. If you are taking on more tasks and projects than you can handle, not only can this backfire with your boss, it can negatively affect those around you, such as your colleagues and clients. Know your limits ahead of time; if there is a huge project that needs to be finished in a week, plan ahead and ask help when necessary.

6. Take a look at your remaining household responsibilities. Consult with your partner or spouse about the jobs you prefer doing and make a list of who does what. Ted loves the stock market and loves to invest, so he’s in charge of investments and retirement funding. Mary, being an accountant, wants to see everything balanced and she will pay the bills, adjust the family budget and balance the checkbook. Talk weekly about how the plan is working and if it needs to be "tweaked," you can easily make changes as needed.

7. Make time for the important stuff. Set goals for both work and personal fulfillment, and consult with your spouse or partner. Ted and Mary are already planning on a second honeymoon in Europe. They both agree it’s time to renew their vows and talk about those "hopes and dreams" again. They’ve even talked about their plans for a family and who will take time off from work.

Mary and Ted are like many high-achieving adults. They want it all - the career, the home, the family, and the dream of enjoying all the benefits that go along with the hard work. However, with high-achievers like this, it is easy to take on too much and wind up stressed, rather than happy. Here are some easy steps you can take to put your life back into balance:

  • Take care of yourself! Exercise, eat right, get regular check-ups and go out with friends and family. Socialize and get involved with your community. Have a date night with your spouse. Don't get so wrapped in achieving that you forget how to have fun and be happy.

  • Review your current job description at work and at home. Do you know it and understand it? Discuss and review these descriptions. Does everyone agree these are correct and appropriate? If they are cloudy or confusing, make sure you and boss or your spouse or significant other agree.

  • Get help when needed. Do not be a “martyr” and try to do it all by yourself. You may be able to pull it off for a while, but it will no doubt catch up with you. Take on too many responsibilities and projects, and you may end of doing poorly on all of them.

  • Stop feeling guilty if you have someone helping you at home. Everyone needs help from time to time. If you don’t know where to start, ask your friends and neighbors for recommendations. Divvy up the remaining indoor and outdoor household chores with your spouse.

  • Review all of the above on a regular basis. Be sure everyone is clear on his or her responsibilities and feels they have the resources and the talents to get the job done successfully. Communication is the key to success! Have updates on a regular basis to adjust goals and expectations as needed.

  • Remember to be kind to yourself and others. Balance is what we all seek and when it gets out of our reach, it’s important to take time to stop and re-evaluate.

Read other articles and learn more about Nancy D. O’Reilly.

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