Never get so busy making a living that you forget to make a life. Dolly Parton

Yesterday my computer hadn’t finished updating. When it did, it wouldn’t restart. My husband worked his magic and got it going. The night before at Toastmasters the topics were bucket lists, the dream of owning a home and the pursuit of happiness.

What is on my bucket list? Seeing Europe is on my list. One person said she’d like to see the seven wonders of the world.

The 7 natural wonders of the world.

The Grand Canyon (North America)

The Great Barrier Reef (Off the coast of Queensland in Northeast Australia)

Harbor of Rio de Janeiro (South America)

Mount Everest

Aurora Borealis (Northern Lights)

Paricutin Volcano (Mexico)

Victoria Falls (Africa) roughly three times the height of Niagara Falls

Seven wonders of the ancient world

The great pyramid of Giza

Hanging gardens of Babylon

Colossus of Rhodes

Lighthouse of Alexandria

Temple of Artemis

Statue of Zeus at Olympia

Mausoleum at Halicarnassus

The seven wonders of the world

The great wall of China

Petra – Jordan

Christ the Redeemer statue – Brazil

Machu Picchu – Peru

Chicken Itza – Mexico

Colosseum – Italy

Taj Mahal – India

The seven wonders of the medieval world

Leaning Tower of Pisa – Italy

Hagia Sophia – Turkey

Porcelain Tower of Nanjing – China

The Great Wall of China

Catacombs of Kom el Shoqafa – Egypt


Stonehenge – England

How do we get everything done, see the wonders of the world, work, raise our families, exercise, and read for fun and personal growth? Some people seem to be better at juggling all of their activities than others.

The limit jugglers can juggle seems to be 14 balls. For the rest of us who are juggling life and not balls, how many can we keep in the air?

We are being asked to juggle more, and we are also trying to juggle more on our own accord as we want to fit everything in, and live life to the max. We don’t just want to be fit enough, we want six pack abs. We don’t just want a job, we need to be rising in the organization. Even our children are over scheduled with activities as we shuttle them from martial arts, dance, piano, hockey, soccer, and many also have a tutor.

Create a life that feels good on the inside, not just one that looks good on the outside. Unknown

An executive coach Scott Eblin tells us we need to recognize what kind of balls we are juggling? Are they rubber, or glass? Some balls will bounce, and some will shatter. We need to know the difference so we can handle them accordingly.

What’s the long-term impact of this ball? Author Suzy Welch tells us to look at things like this – will this matter a week from now, a month from now, a year from now, ten years from now? We aren’t just looking at career balls but all our balls, including family, and our other interests.

Who else cares about this ball? It might not be a ball of particular interest to us, but it’s really important to someone else? Our decisions should not be solely driven by other people, but we should consider them.

What’s the upside of this ball?

If we dropped this ball, could we recover? Some setbacks in life are minor and we can bounce back, others are more significant. Most of our balls are rubber, and if this is a rubber ball, it can bounce. If it is a glass ball it will shatter. Marriages are glass balls. Health is a glass ball. Family is a glass ball and friends are a glass ball. Some of these glass balls we can put down and pick up. Some like marriage and health we need to keep in the air at all times. Children take a lot of time until they don’t. Friends are balls we can put down and pick up.

Should we even be juggling this ball? Maybe someone else should be juggling this ball, or no one needs to juggle it, maybe it shouldn’t be part of the mix at all, or maybe it is a ball we can pick up at a less busy time in our lives.

Are we battling between our “must do’s” and “should do’s”? Do we know the difference between important and urgent? Many things that take up our time seem important because they are urgent, but if we ignore them they didn’t impact our lives in any way.  Many urgent things won’t matter even in a week, let alone ten years.

Some of the important things don’t seem urgent. It doesn’t seem urgent to spend time with family. If we don’t spend enough time with family it can be hard to get back into what should be easy, fun, spontaneous. We could talk about anything, but if we don’t talk that ease goes away, and it can be hard to get back.

Work is a ball that masquerades as crystal when really it is the rubber ball we need to keep from taking over our lives and making the important things feel unimportant to us.

Volunteer activities are another ball that can take over our lives. Often everything seems urgent, can we just take on one more thing? We need to be careful our spouse and children don’t get sidelined by these rubber balls that seem to grow, morph, and take over our lives.

I’m in this situation now with Toastmasters. It is taking up another Saturday in the summer. Summer Saturdays are precious, and this is the third one. I enjoy it, but I have a husband who isn’t enjoying it nearly as much.

Marriage is the fragile, precious ball we need to put first. This is the ball that is fragile, and the ball upon which the rest of our life is based. If we can keep this ball healthy, we will have a good foundation for everything else. If we have a strong marriage we actually have four hands to help with our juggling instead of two.

It is easy to think we’ve been married for so many years; surely it isn’t so fragile anymore. This is probably a mistake. Taking our spouse for granted while we pursue other things may make our spouse feel they no longer are first in our lives. What if they pursue something and we are no longer first in their life? Where will this leave us?

We should each pursue things in our lives, while we are also making sure to keep our spouse our first priority. We need to take a good look at the balls we are juggling and figure out what is important, and not just urgent. We can juggle what is important and concentrate on the glass balls and let the rubber one bounce if they need to.

Is the biggest mistake we make confusing the rubber balls with the glass ones?

Management is doing things right; leadership is doing the right things. Peter F. Drucker

One thought on “Keeping all our balls in the air. Some balls are rubber and some are glass. Finding balance. Knowing the important from the urgent.

  1. You’ve made some great points here. Love the analogy of glass and rubber balls, and your comments about marriage, esp. older marriage: always a glass ball, even when/if we take each other for granted as the years pass.

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