Juggling to Find Work-Life Balance

Monty Python may have hit it the nail right on the head in, The Meaning of Life, when trying to answer the question, “What is the secret to a happy life?”  While the answer may be simple in theory to most, implementation is where we all seem to screw it up.  Since starting 898 Marketing last year, everyday is an opportunity to figure out how to manage everything that happens in life.  I have learned much over the past 15 years since entering the rat race that is the professional business world and, as I speak to students across the country about marketing, technology and advice for their own careers, I always tell them that if they want a successful life, they have to learn how to juggle.

Juggling requires concentration, practice, patience and, no matter how good you think you are at it, you can always add another item to the mix to add to the experience.  For those of you who have never actually juggled before, I encourage you to try it.  I remember when I first taught myself sitting in the dugout during rain delays of our Ursuline High School baseball games.  It was frustrating as hell at first but, eventually, it not only helped pass the time but was soothing and somewhat relaxing once you got the hang of it.

Faith, Family, Friends and Your Career

You see, as you go through your journey in this life, you are given, in my opinion, 4 balls that you have to juggle on a daily basis. These balls are the constants and while you may add more to the “act,” these are the ones that will constantly be with you. The trick is not only finding a way to manage keeping all of these balls in the air but knowing what type of balls you are juggling.  That’s the catch to the juggling act that is your career and personal life.  The four balls that you juggle on a daily basis are your Faith, your Family, your Friends and your Career.  However, they aren’t the same type of ball.

As we go through life, we are distracted by outside influences that get in the way of what defines us, makes us who we are and, at the end of the day, will always be there for us.  Your faith, family and friends are those elements of your life that are and should always be the most important elements of your life.  These elements are delicate and fragile, which is why I always say that these balls made of glass.  Your career, on the other hand, is something that, while it is important and can provide you with financial and personal securities, it is an element of your life that has other opportunities and ways to continue to grow. It is a variable that will always, well, bounce back.  So, for this reason, I say that your career is like a tennis ball.  Now, let’s juggle.

Picking Up the Pieces

When you begin to juggle all of these balls together, Faith, Family, Friends and Career, you start to find that at various points in your life, your attention begins to shift towards one of these more than the others.  All of a sudden, the attention to the elements of your Career starts to take precedence over your Faith, Family and Friends.  The concentration and attention that should be balanced for all four balls starts to diminish and before you know it, you drop a ball, or two, or three.  We have all been in this scenario.  Mistakes are a good thing.  I always encourage my team members to not be afraid of making mistakes.  Without mistakes, we can never learn the proper way to do something and it is the true test of character to see how someone, well, bounces back.  But there is a caveat to this: if you make a mistake, learn from it.  If you make the same mistake twice, patterns form and that is when it becomes difficult to regroup.  The same is true with this juggling scenario.

When you drop the tennis ball with your career, it will always “bounce back.”  There will always be an opportunity for you to do something you love and make a living.  However, if you drop one of the glass balls, you might not be so lucky.  You may drop it and it may crack or, worse yet, it may also shatter, leaving you with pieces that are impossible to put back together.  Regardless, it is NEVER the same.  Your Faith, Family and Friends are the most important things in life. It makes you who you are, defines your personality, the work ethic you bring to a job and the drive to be a success in your career.  Once you drop one of those balls, you find yourself with a new “job”: putting back together the pieces of relationships that may be something you will never be able to achieve.

I have been blessed to have been provided professional opportunities that have enabled me to accomplish a great deal in my short 15 years of “working.”  Whether it was at my first job at Young & Rubicam Advertising or my time as a team member with the Cleveland Cavaliers, each opportunity provided a fun, exciting and memorable encounter helped me grow professionally and personally.  As I continue to grow, as many business owners can appreciate, the focus in your career tends to be linear and focused on what is happening with the company you are managing, operating or work for as a team member.  And while I am surrounded by great people who are all focused on the organizational goals, it is easy to forget about the other balls hanging in the air.  Making it through life without breaking one of those glass balls is a secret that will undoubtedly deliver happiness and success in any career that bounces your way.

About the Author

Jeff-Ryznar-898MarketingJeff Ryznar is a marketing professional with over 15 years of strategic marketing experience and planning for some of the largest brands.  He is currently the owner of 898 Marketing, specializing in custom marketing strategies and business solutions for small and medium sized business in the Midwest.