Last month Senator Barack Obama suspended his campaign to visit his ailing grandmother in Hawaii, and with the news of her passing on Monday, one may presume the purpose of the trip was to say goodbye.
The decision to put family first tipped Obama’s work/life scales in one direction. His was a dilemma in the extreme, but the principle is one that stufessionals struggle with every day: how to maintain equilibrium. They fight to keep the peace in their personal and professional relationships, but is it wasted effort?
The work/life challenge is a balancing act, a constant state of checking and correcting. Stufessionals like Shrita and Jared work 11 hour days and then devote entire weekends to class and studying. How does one keep it all together? The experts tell us to prioritize, lean on others and keep to a schedule.
Stephen Covey, author of “The 7 Habits Of Highly Effective People,” says simplicity is the key to prioritizing. He is not alone in that thought. Wise old Curly, as played by Jack Palance in the 1991 motion picture “City Slickers,” opined that the secret of life is finding “just one thing. You stick to that and everything else don’t mean [anything].” He was talking to Billy Crystal’s character Mitch, who by the end of the movie finds the “one thing” in his wife, children and the new family pet, a baby cow. Adding livestock to the family lineup may not be the answer for everyone, but identifying the priority in one’s life brings focus and balance.
The Mayo Clinic and WebMD via Oprah.com agree on the importance of leaning on others for help. Stufessionals can find assistance on the small scale by enlisting friends to babysit during study sessions, or on a larger scale by accessing their Employer’s Assistance Program (EAP), which provides limited, free confidential counseling sessions. Asking for help is not a sign of instability, but rather a way to use all resources at hand, just as one would utilize multiple media for a research project.
Keeping a schedule is also important to work/life balance. The Mayo Clinic suggests doing housework and running errands on weekdays so the weekends are free for hobbies or spending time with family. Stufessionals do not have a lot of leisure time, so there is great value in running a load of laundry every day so Friday night can be spent relaxing.
Stufessionals should heed the advice of the experts. It is not possible, nor necessary, to be a superwoman or superman and attempt to do it all. When they identify priorities, ask for help from all available resources and make time to take time, stufessionals can succeed, with or without a pet cow.
[Susan has produced over 120 events and meetings in five years, from executive summits and VIP receptions to fundraising golf tournaments and galas. Susan balances her studies with a full time job, volunteer board positions for the International Special Events Society and Starlight Midatlantic, brilliant and adorable niece and nephew, running ten milers and the search for the perfect chocolate chip cookie recipe.]