Dawn Cooke: Top 10 Ways to Balance Family and Career
By Dawn Cooke
In this fast paced, competitive world, how does a parent balance a career with the many other obligations of family and life? It’s not easy! It definitely requires planning and some sacrifice. There are so many things going on around any given person at any given time today in our world. It can be easy to become bombarded by media such as news, Internet and television. It can feel like the world is flying past you in fast forward while you are struggling to check things off of your list. Meanwhile your list of things to do grows and grows… But I found a few things that really help me manage all the tasks I have as mother, shop owner, artist, tattooist and wife…
The first thing is making a time schedule and literally scheduling in every single thing no matter how small. I schedule everything, even sleep! Get a piece of paper and map out your day, then week, months and year. Even set goal for yourself and schedule family events and appointments way in advance. Oh yeah and schedule in time for spontaneity. I know that sounds funny but in your routine you should have time where you schedule nothing. Just so you can take care of some pressing issue or just go get a cup of coffee.
Second thing is you have to have your priorities as much in order as possible. Family needs outweigh everything for me and work certainly plays into that. The things you cut out of your schedule should be the ones that mean the least to you, such as Facebook. It’s so easy to get wrapped up in a stupid argument online about politics or who said what, or just looking at everyone’s pictures and reading everyone’s posts. Don’t get sidetracked investing too much energy focusing on what other people are doing! But trust me that it isn’t worth it and it only wastes time. Arguments are way shorter in person anyway! And true friends will call you or visit you face to face.
Third, it’s important to know your limits. Some of us like to say yes to everything and everyone but it’s important to say no if you can’t take on any more tasks. Most people understand that. If you are worried about disappointing someone trust me they will be more disappointed that you didn’t come through when you said you would then they will be if you said no in the first place. If you’re worried about saying no to an opportunity, sometimes that’s what you have to do in life. Trust me opportunities come along all the time and sometimes we catch them and sometimes they pass us by. Just know where you’re headed and stay the course.
Fourth, self discipline, diligence and cooperation are traits that it wouldn’t hurt to embody if possible because you have to have drive to make it all work out. It helps to have the support of your loved ones too. You need them as much as they need you. If you work as a team everyone can work toward a common good and everyone’s needs will be met.
Fifth schedule time for you to exercise, get a massage go see the doctor or what ever. You are no good to yourself or anyone if you aren’t well. My nonna always tells me that without your health you have nothing. I think she’s right. Get in line with healthy habits all the way around and your quality of life will improve. Quality sleep, diet and exercise will improve your energy level. Cut the smoking, it wastes time that you can be drawing or painting or doing what ever it is that you do and it kills you.
Sixth, know what kind of life you want. Know where you are going with your life. What are the most important things to you? This will help give you direction. I read once that successful people set goals on a semi regular basis and I think this seems true. One way of thinking about it is to imagine what people will say in your eulogy. What would you want people to say about you when you’re gone and set your life’s goals around that idea. When it’s all over, what impact if any would you have had on at least one person?
Seventh, giving is necessary. Donating something when you can to your favorite charity or donating time to a cause you believe in does so much for a person’s wellbeing and overall success. I don’t know exactly how this works but I know that it does. You can call it karma or what ever you want. I read it somewhere and applied it and it not only does well for others when you do this but somehow it comes back to you too.
Eighth, never be afraid to fail. You will certainly fail along the way. I fail all the time. But I’m not afraid of failure. If you try to learn from it, you ultimately become better for it. Fear of failure can debilitate the most capable people. Just accept that you might fail but at least you won’t be a coward. If you make a mistake say sorry and mean it, forgive yourself, get up and try again! Be a warrior!
Ninth, give and receive as many hugs per day as are presented to you. It’s a fact that human contact is essential for human life. Twelve hugs a day if possible would do a body good. Being kind is not a sign of weakness. You can stand up for yourself and for what you believe in without being unkind. If you have conflict in your life try to reduce it as much as possible. Reduce your stress level but putting your energy where it counts.
Tenth, be flexible and adaptable! If you fall off that horse get back on it. It’s never too late to reassess where you are at and where you want to go. At any moment just know that you can change if need be. You may not have control over outside forces but you have control over your own actions. Sometimes the world puts you where it wants you and it’s not exactly like you planned it. Just by living you’re in a silent contract with yourself and others that you encounter. We’re all bouncing around like atoms in space. Sometimes we find a fit, sometimes we are repelled. You will find where you need to be and then you’ll know when it’s time to move on. Always keep on the look out for ways to improve.