Sarah Palin's selection as Republican John McCain's running mate has stirred up a lot of debate about the role of working mothers. Lots of statistics are being thrown around about percentages of working mothers in the workforce, percentages of women running Fortune 500 companies and the like. Not everyone aspires to reach the most senior levels of business or politics. It seems to me, many men and women are less interested in running a company and more interested in trying to balance a fulfilling career while being part of a family. And the challenge isn't just for those juggling the needs of children. Many people are trying to figure out how best to support the needs of their aging parents. If you're trying to find that "balance", here are some ideas you may find useful:

Say No
One area many of us find challenging is saying "no" to various requests. Ramona Creel of OnlineOrganizing.com, has some creative ideas on ways to say no. Many will work both at home and at the office:

  • I can't right now, but I can do it later
  • I'm really not the most qualified person for the job [I'm not planning to share this one with my teenager]
  • I can't, but let me give you the name of someone who can
  • I have another commitment
  • I don't really enjoy that kind of work
  • I can't, but I'm happy to help out with another task
  • No

Have a Personal Life Plan
"Most people are not as happy as they would like to be, as successful as they think they should be, or as wealthy as they'd hoped they be when they were younger. Not coincidently, most people do not have a personal life plan either." So says John M. McKee, author of 21 Ways Women in Management Shoot Themselves in the Foot. McKee suggests we all should spend some time developing a personal life plan and that it address three elements:

  1. our professional selves
  2. our family selves
  3. our personal selves

The more detailed your plan, the better. Developing your personal life plan is much like the planning do at work only it's for yourself: your career goals, your family goals, your personal needs and wants.

Take Care of Yourself
If your body and spirit aren't nourished, not only do you reduce your chances of achieving your goals, you may not be healthy enough to enjoy them once you do get there. Block off time for yourself. Start off slowly. If you've been running yourself ragged, you're not all of a sudden going to find an hour of "me time" in your calendar every week. Start with finding five or ten minutes you can block off. Even ten minutes of "doing nothing" can be ten minutes very well spent. Give yourself permission to look after yourself.

This article was written by Helen Latimer

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