Why learning to juggle was a crash course in personal and career development


On the outside, the work-from-home, be-your-own-boss life can seem glamorous. But if I invited you over to my apartment on a Monday morning, you’d see me wearing pajamas, sorting through to-do lists and plotting how to continue to keep my business alive and well.

There are many benefits of having your own business — setting your schedule and not having to worry about office politics among them — but there can be some hefty downsides, like lack of collaboration with co-workers and company-sponsored learning experiences, like retreats or classes, to keep you inspired.

Years ago, I worked for a start-up that would have weekly fireside chats with industry professionals and host monthly personal development workshops for employees. Since being on my own (starting in 2015) I have hardly done any of that.

So in 2019, I decided to invest in my own growth. I’ve taken some in-person classes like Improv for Professionals to help stir up creativity, laughing yoga to help with stress and anxiety, and a cooking class, so my homemade lunches could evolve from peanut butter and jelly sandwiches to something more appropriate for an adult.

When I told a friend about how I spent this year taking interesting classes, she mentioned that her agency invited someone to come in and teach them how to juggle, which she says, changed how people saw themselves and inspired creativity at the office.

Juggling: A tool to reset your thought process?

I found that interesting. Was there really more to juggling than tossing balls up in the air and catching them?

Turns out the answer is yes.

Sherrie Campbell, a clinical psychologist, says that juggling works wonders for our critical thinking skills.

“Juggling is a soothing, methodical, organized activity for the brain,” says Campbell. “This soothes, focuses and slows the brain down to look at and focus on small details and movements. These neuronal connections have proven to improve a person’s thought process.”

While I knew anything that would slow me down mentally would be good for me (which is why I force myself to do yoga), I knew it would be hard. I do everything fast. I rush through life, my work and my creative process when I’m brainstorming projects.

That’s exactly why I decided that before the end of last year, I’d give juggling a try as my final personal and professional development course of the year.