How Many Balls Are You Juggling?

The Prosci ADKAR individual model of change (Awareness – Desire – Knowledge – Ability – Reinforcement) posits that people must first be aware of the need for a change before they can commit to it. Yet we all know situations where we firmly believe a change is necessary, but somehow are unable to follow through on execution.

Often the problem stems from our tendency to try to make everything a high priority. When we try to make many changes at the same time, even if we have told ourselves that we have 10 terribly important changes to make, our brains can only successfully manage about five or so at a time. The first ones we undertake have a much higher probability of being successful. Imagine a juggler who is managing to keep five balls in the air. He may drop the sixth if he adds one more, or may drop one or more that were previously in the air.

So it is with our priorities. If you’re doing home improvements, taking your kids to extracurricular activities, planning that vacation, getting in shape before vacation, starting a new project at work, volunteering at a local charity, keeping the house clean and the yard tended, getting the dog to the vet, studying for that new credential, and trying to get sufficient sleep that your doctor said you need, well, chances are that you won’t accomplish all of them, at least not satisfactorily.

“But wait!” you say, “All of those things really are important. Are you telling me that I can’t do them all?”

Not exactly. The reality is that we mere mortals cannot juggle an unlimited number of priorities. Take stock of how many balls you are juggling and determine which ones you absolutely want to keep in the air. Set the others aside and pick them up when you are able.