Balancing your personal and professional lives Published Sept. 5, 2012 By Airman 1st Class Hrair H. Palyan 28th Bomb Wing Public Affairs ELLSWORTH AIR FORCE BASE, S.D. -- There's no doubt that service members face their own unique set of trials. Airmen face significant challenges in integrating their career, spouse, children, friends and self into their daily routine. Although there's no sure-fire way of maintaining a balanced lifestyle, there are a variety of strategies that Airmen can employ or use to effectively manage their professional and personal lives. For many, skills and strategies routinely practiced at work, such as long-term planning, organizational skills, and effective communication, can foster success in nearly every aspect of their personal lives as well. The first step to achieve a balanced lifestyle is to determine what's important to you. Everyone makes decisions based on what is best for themselves and their families. Some questions to consider: · Where do you want to focus the lion's share of your time and energy? · How important is your career in the grand scale of things? · How much do you value time with your spouse and children? Once you establish what's important to you, evaluate whether your current lifestyle fits with what you truly want. Every day, people decide it's time to embark on a new stage of life. This could include starting a family, changing careers, or taking an extended leave. Others start businesses out of their homes so they can spend more time with their families. These are individual decisions, just because a choice worked for one person, that doesn't necessarily mean it is the right decision for another. Before you make any serious changes to your personal or professional life, consider the implications of each decision, and how you plan to integrate the changes into your lifestyle. The next step is to work with your family to develop, prioritize, and agree to realistic goals. Having a successful career or enlistment in the Air Force often requires long hours, weekend duty, volunteer work and deployments. All of those commitments take a toll on the amount of time one can dedicate to family and other priorities. Developing goals can help military members make the most out of the time they do have with their families. Knowing what you want, evaluating your current situation, and developing big-picture family goals can help Airmen effectively balance their professional and personal lives. Just remember, you don't have to do this alone. There are a variety of resources available to help Airman and their families.