In today’s competitive economy, work-life balance might not be the first thing on your mind as you begin your job search. But if your career planning doesn’t take into account what life will be like after the new job starts, you may find yourself regretting your decision. To ensure that you land a job that is professionally satisfying and financially rewarding without swallowing your life whole:
- Think Through Your Priorities Before Your Search Begins: Your goals in targeting new job opportunities should include things like salary, room for professional growth and working conditions, of course. But that’s only the beginning. Make sure that you also consider factors like how much time you’re willing to spend commuting, how you feel about working after hours and taking calls at home and other issues that will affect life outside the office. There’s a big difference between working 50 hours a week from home and working 50 hours a week plus a 2.5 hour commute each day.
- Don’t Fight for a Job You Don’t Want: The interviewing process brings out something competitive in many job-seekers, and career planning becomes more about getting offers than finding the right situation. In the quest to prove yourself, it’s easy to lose sight of whether or not you really want what you’re chasing. Use the interviewing process not just to sell yourself, but to learn about the position, the company leadership and your co-workers and discern whether it truly would be a good fit for you. With the right job, you’ll be happier at work and after hours.
- Set Boundaries and Stick to Them: Obviously, you have to fulfill your job requirements, and in some cases you’ll want to go above and beyond, both to meet your own professional standards and to help your career advancement. But stop and think. Every action you take in the early days is establishing a precedent: co-workers who are impressed that you always answer email within ten minutes even after hours won’t stay impressed: they’ll come to expect it. Don’t unwittingly establish a pattern you might be unwilling to live with later.
Your career is inextricably connected to every other area of your life. Your work finances your life; your job takes time away from other aspects of life; stress at work can impact your enjoyment of life outside the office and your availability to the people in your life. With that in mind, it’s important that your career planning take into account just how your new position will impact the quality of life outside the office, for you and for your family.
Download a PDF version of this list of career planning tips here.