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Balancing work and family today

Wednesday, August 20, 2014
Dr Monica Starke

In today’s world when time is such a precious commodity, we face, almost on a daily basis, the great challenge of giving our best at home and at work. Can we really do so successfully? I believe that we can, if we equip ourselves with knowledge, wisdom and a willingness to make necessary changes.

There is so much talk about change and our changing environment that feelings of real powerlessness can overcome us if we are not careful and strong. Of course, it is true that change is taking place rapidly, but I feel that along with this realisation must come personal strategies for coping. 

Each one of us should have a personal action plan, one that is realistic and one that will work for us. But, before you proceed to formulate a plan, let’s talk about us. How are we really making out in today’s world with all the demands that are placed on us?

First, let’s talk about our relationships with the loved ones in our lives, whether they are partners, friends, children, parents or colleagues. Are they treating us with the respect that we deserve? Are we treating them with the respect that they deserve? Have you noticed how tough it is for a relationship to survive without the demonstration of respect on either side? In fact, can it survive?It probably can, but it will just barely survive without growth and without the true satisfaction and support that a strong relationship can provide. 

We live in times when more than ever, we all need to work together, side by side, in order to be successful. So, take some time to do a little examination of the important relationships in your life. Remember to give respect yourself, so that you can “demand” respect from the other party; it is a two-way street.

And when I talk about respect, I am talking about the fact that we should take time to listen to what the other person has to say. I am talking about taking time to consider the feelings of the other person. Let’s take time to empathise with the trials and challenges that the other person may be facing. How are we doing as parents? The parenting role today is one of our greatest challenges, and because most of us work outside the home, we have to wear many different hats. I am convinced that we need to clarify our own values and our own sense of direction before we can effectively guide our children. I am convinced that so often many of us are trapped in the “management paradigm” that Stephen Covey talks about that we are always thinking of control, efficiency and rules, of what others will think, instead of being focused on our own sense of direction, purpose and family values.

Let’s talk about taking care of ourselves! Too many of us today believe that when we take care of ourselves, we are being selfish. As a result, we feel stressed, worn out and fed up with our lives; many of us are barely coping. It’s time for us to wake up and realise that we deserve to feel positive about our lives. In fact, those around you will benefit when you begin to take positive action to make your own life better.

We owe it to our loved ones and our colleagues in the workplace to take good care of “us.”

How to give your best
• Let us try not to fear change but rather to see change as an opportunity for growth.
• Some of us are constantly caring for others; let us begin to also take care of ourselves. When we feel good about ourselves, then we can give our best to family and work.
• Stop trying to do everything yourself, at home and at work. Delegate duties to those around you who are in a position to help.
• You need to spend as much quality time as you can with loved ones in order to prevent feelings of guilt and stress. Make some tough decisions and be assertive in your planning so that your schedule will include time for loved ones.
• Prioritise! Put first things first, and accomplish what you can today. Do the best you can and put the rest on tomorrow’s list.
• Set firm but realistic guidelines for yourself and your young children. Encourage your spouse/partner and your teenagers to do the same. Set aside time to be together.
• Take some time NOW to examine your personal and professional life. Find the courage to make necessary changes that will make your life happier. When you are happy and fulfilled, everyone around you benefits.

Dr Starke is a lifestyle coach/counsellor and an OD (organisational development) consultant who provides workshops/seminars for employees and supervisors. Please contact her at [email protected] or


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