This blog is on topics of interest to early career professionals who work with people with disabilities. Blog contributors have diverse perspectives on leadership, professional development, and success in changing systems to better serve people with disabilities and their families. For more information on Early Career Professionals, check out the website:

13 July, 2010

The Balancing Act

This is a common theme in our office, so I will continue where blogger Crystal Pariseau left off last week!

All of life is a balancing act but what you are balancing shifts and changes depending on your age, priorities and many other factors. How easily you adapt to those changes and re-balance your life is a part of both your professional and personal growth.

As a full-time professional, mom of two, and part-time graduate student, balancing priorities is part of my everyday life. But it has also taught me that with the right combination of support and discipline, you don’t have to put aside your career or another degree for your family or other responsibilities. For women in particular, these can seem like all or nothing choices – you either take a break and have a family or you put starting a family on hold and go to school and/or have a career.

What might seem like a sacrifice, however, can really be a gain. My time at school and working on my studies, while sometimes demanding, is unfettered me-time and has enriched my life both professionally and personally. This in turn strengthens my relationship with my family and gives me more confidence in my work. What a win-win!

Doing non-profit work has always defined me. From my eight years at the American Red Cross national headquarters to a smaller non-profit, then to AUCD, I have gotten married, had two kids, and gone back to school to earn a masters degree. There are certainly times that I wonder if I can manage it all, but I never consider not working, going to school or continuing to do something I love and feel passionate about.

So how can you find you own balance? Here are some tips for making the pursuit of your personal and professional goals a reality:
  • Find an employer who is supportive of both your professional and personal goals and needs.
  • Advocate for yourself! Don’t be afraid to request time (and financial support) of those around you to help you work towards your goals in the workplace, at school, in your home life, etc.
  • Being a mother, father, partner or care-giver (of parents or children) does not diminish your right to fulfill your goals and pursue your own dreams.
  • Find support in your communities – neighbors, co-workers, family and friends – they can all provide time, energy and other resources to help bolster your busy life.
  • Don’t be afraid to say “no” to other requests for your time and assistance when your personal plate is especially full.
  • Share your experiences with your family - talk with your kids and loved ones about the excitement of going back to school or an interesting project at work and how much their support means to you.

Last year, my then six-year-old daughter wrote me a note that I keep taped to my monitor that says, “I love you mommy. I think you are the best. You do good things.” If that isn’t validation enough that the balancing act is worth it, I don’t know what is!


disability-aroundtheworld on August 10, 2010 at 1:35 PM said...
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