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NEWS | Oct. 25, 2017

Finding balance

By Chief Master Sgt. Dawn Kolczynski 11th Medical Group

JOINT BASE ANDREWS, Md. -- Throughout my 22 years of serving in the U.S. Air Force I’ve often heard people talk about finding balance between work and personal life. In the beginning, I didn’t fully understand the struggle because I was so focused on being the best Airmen I could be that I didn’t consider I was possibly leaving a void in another part of my life.

The Air Force was, as it is today, a part of my life and not separate. As I continued to grow in my career I began to realize I unintentionally created a void between myself and those I loved the most, my family. I assumed they understood and appreciated what ‘service before self’ meant to me and that it meant they would need to make sacrifices. 

I personally struggled for years fighting to find a healthy balance between work and personal life.  Being an Airman, a wife, a mom, a daughter and a friend are all rewarding titles that demand me to be focused and the best I can be so I can take care of those I love. I felt as if one part of my life had to sacrifice if I focused my efforts on the other.

The definition of balance is an even distribution of weight enabling someone or something to remain upright and steady. I’ve found that I truly could not find balance in every aspect of my life at any one time. In fact, something always had to be out of balance in order for me to be completely focused. 

Rather than searching for balance, what I’ve found to work for me is being present in the moment. When I’m at work I give my all to my Airmen, my boss and my group ensuring I am focused on providing them with the guidance, resources and development they need to be successful. 

When I’m at home with my family I do my very best to be present for them. It’s important that I take time for family dinner, to listen to how the day went for my husband and daughter. I need to do my best to leave work at work, to put my phone away and be present for them.  I’m aware that the work day goes by quickly and there is always something else that needs to be done, but I also know it is equally important to be an engaged wife, mother and daughter.

I’m often asked by Airmen how to find balance as they progress in their career. I tell them about my struggle and the lessons I’ve learned over the years. I tell them to stop looking for balance and to focus on being present.

There are times when our families will need to make sacrifices because of the mission. On the other hand, there will be times when we are needed to be there for our families. I’m proud to be an Airmen, wife, mother, daughter, and friend in no particular order because I take each title proudly and I strive to be present when and where I’m needed.