Finding life balance

Here’s some practical advice for overstressed community leaders, parents and others from Leadership and Civic Engagement Extension Educator Jody Horntvedt. May you find balance.

Finding life balance

By Jody Horntvedt, University of Minnesota Extension

ROSEAU, Minn. — Finding balance in life is a much sought after goal for many individuals.  Leaders in communities too often feel the pressures of work, family and community responsibilities, feeling that things are “out of control.”  This often leads to dissatisfaction, frustration, and feeling undervalued.  Fortunately, this doesn’t need to be the way you live your life.  There ARE things that you can control which will help you find the balance needed in your life!


Begin by taking some time to analyze your life by writing down the responsibilities you have in three categories:  family, work, community.  Once you’ve named the major roles, expand your notes to include activities, objects or persons that relate to each of those roles.  Then, think about which of those items are the ones that might be the “major stressors” in your life which keep you “out-of-balance”.


Dealing with the major stressors in your life is important.  Take a close look at each of your stressors and then find ways to begin overcoming them.  Here are a few strategies for you to consider…


If your stress can be defined as OVERLOAD or ROLE CONFLICTS, here are some ideas that might help:

ü  Establish priorities among and within your roles

ü  Lower standards

ü  Hire help, use labor-saving devices

ü  Reorganize household roles with spouse and children taking on more responsibility

ü  Define and agree with spouse what is considered to be major and minor parental role responsibilities

ü  Work more efficiently and plan time more carefully


If your stress is identified as PERSONAL IDENTITY ISSUES, some things that might help include:

ü  Separate work and family roles.  Leave work and work-related problems at the office.

ü  Compromise occupational goals at certain life cycle stages

ü  Maintain optimistic outlook on your lifestyle

ü  Establishing and maintain friendships with others in similar situations


If there are WORKPLACE stressors, you might try:

ü  Negotiating work arrangements such as flexible scheduling and job sharing

ü  Communicate with colleagues and seek their suggestions

ü  Work on “naming” and then “minimizing” the stressors that you can control


If it is some of the LITTLE THINGS around your home (like the shoes piled inside the back door or piles of mail) that are causing you stress, you might try:

ü  Involve everyone in your family to discuss and strategize options

ü  Focus on one “little thing” at a time until you get it figured out!


Finding balance in your life is important for your well-being as an individual.  It is also important that community leaders find ways to balance so that they can be more effective in their leadership roles – and that translates into a healthier community where volunteers are effective in their efforts and helping to make their community a better place to live.  If you’d like to know more healthy leaders and healthier communities, call (1-888-241-4546) or email ( me!

Jody Horntvedt is a Leadership and Civic Engagement Extension Educator with University of Minnesota Extension.

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