Are You Juggling Softballs or Chainsaws?

By Steve Flynn

I don’t watch much TV as the pace of life lately does not allow much time for it, but the other day I had a little downtime and was watching a popular reality TV talent competition. 

I don’t know if you’ve seen this act, but it's this guy in a full body suit painted like the human anatomy juggling with ease like I’ve never seen. I’m not sure what the body suit has to do with it - other than making him extremely memorable. He’s referred to as “the graceful juggler," combining juggling with a former professional dance career.  

Like most of you reading this, I am in a stage of life right now that ends up feeling like a juggling act. I’ve been blessed with two young children, a job I’m very thankful for and a chance to pursue a graduate degree.

I know I’m breaking the cardinal rule of "singular focus" I’ve read about in countless personal development/business books. While the concept of singular focus certainly has value, I’m not sure real life ever presents the opportunity to entertain it. I think people like you and I will always have a few balls in the air. 

The show got me thinking, how might we become like the “graceful juggler" in our busy lives? 

Here are three suggestions that have worked well for me: 

1. Find transition points:

This is a simple physical queue. Find an action that triggers your mind to transition to the next activity. For example, when I close my office door at the end of the day, I visualize “closing the door on work” and then don’t allow email, calls or frustrations to creep back in as I play with the kids and have dinner. It's a simple way to compartmentalize each responsibly, not allowing them to blend together. 

2. Don’t let others throw more into the mix:

You know the stunt, the performer seems to be barely keeping all the balls in the air when they invite someone from the crowd to throw another into the mix. We need to make sure we don’t allow that to happen to us. Busy seasons demand that we learn to say “no," being very picky with additional commitments. 

3. Realize you can't juggle forever:

God promises to give us the strength to get through anything but we shouldn't abuse this. We must respect that life is designed to be seasonal in nature, meaning rest must follow a time of busyness. There must be a time where the juggling stops and we hold steady the one or two things we cherish most. Rest in between performances, knowing the next act is just around the corner. 

Remember, at the end of the day, most of what we juggle are blessings and opportunities. Don't allow stress to consume your joy and turn the softballs you're juggling into chainsaws.