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How to achieve healthy work life balance in your career

 

Are you tired of working 10 and 12 and 14-hour days?

Do you want more time for yourself or your family?

It’s okay to admit it!

And, admitting that you need or want more time for things other than work does not mean you are any less professional or any less committed to your work.

It simply means that you are setting healthy boundaries to protect your priorities and avoid becoming expended, depleted, and overwhelmed. That is what is known as establishing work-life balance.

Today, in a work world where competitive pressures are the name of the game and huge workloads the norm…In a work world where we face constant change and corporate cultures that tell us that we must constantly do more, be more, and bring in the sales or else…it is no wonder that a growing number of workers are saying “enough” and seeking more reasonable and balanced alternatives.

Healthier Work-Life Balance Begins With Your Next Job Search

I realize that work-life balance may not be the first priority 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 and 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.

Options To The 60-Hour Workweek

Most of the clients we work with at Distinctive Career Services still pursue careers on the traditional corporate ladder.

And most of these clients find this an extremely rewarding path for a variety of their own reasons.

But there are a growing percentage—and the number seems to be growing every year—of individuals who have made a conscious decision to buck the trend and take a step off that ladder.

These clients tell us that they want to regroup and carve career paths for themselves that allow for more flexibility and healthier work-life balance.

The changes aren’t always as dramatic as you might imagine. Often the solution is as simple as negotiating a more flexible work arrangement within the corporate structure.

If the above sounds like you, but you are hesitating to make the move because you aren’t quite sure you fully understand your options and how to make them work for you, the following explanation of some of the more popular flexible work arrangements may be just the inspiration you need.

Flex Hours

If you are happy working a 40-hour week, but prefer not to work the typical five or six days per week, negotiating for a schedule based on flex hours may be just what you are looking for as a solution for healthier balance in your personal life and work.

For example, with a flex schedule, rather than working five eight-hour days, you might work four ten-hour days and take a full three days off for yourself. Of all the options, this one has the potential to be the least disruptive. You will still be working the same number of hours; you’ll just do it in a different configuration.

Job Sharing

Although not common, job sharing is becoming more accepted.

This is a good option if you love your job and want to remain on the same rung of the “ladder.”

However, it does require, in most cases, taking a cut in pay, so it may not be for everyone.

Job sharing entails taking a job that might normally require 40, 50, 60 hours per week and essentially cutting the responsibilities down the middle to be shared by two people.

This arrangement requires constant communication and cooperation, but it can be effective under the right circumstances.

The Gig Economy (a Portfolio Career)

If you are ready to leave the corporate world behind, or at least leave some of it behind, the gig economy and a portfolio career may be exactly what you are looking for as your work-life balance solution.

While many of us have been raised to believe that a full-time job is really the only secure work arrangement, a portfolio career may actually be more secure because it involves multiple streams of income. If one source dries up, you always have the other sources.

What is a portfolio career? It is a career that is built around your skills and interests through a variety of part-time and/or contract jobs, which may include some combination of part-time employment, self-employment, freelancing, consulting, and temporary jobs. If you truly enjoy flexibility, freedom, and variety in your work, and can tolerate the unpredictability, you may want to consider the benefits of entering the gig economy.

A New and Healthier Balance

The culture of the business world tells us to maximize everything, push the limits, and pursue more.

The three flexible work arrangements described in this article might be the perfect solution to help you avoid overwhelm and the many negative effects of overload.

You do, of course, have many other options as well. Consider phased early retirement, turning down a promotion, relocating to shorten your commute, telecommuting, moving laterally or even into a downward position. The choice is yours.

While you might experience resistance as you begin to set clearer boundaries between your personal needs and work, always remember that you and only you are in charge. If you know your priorities and you truly want to create more work-life balance, you can’t just wait for someone else to come and make the changes for you. You must make them yourself!

Whatever your ultimate decision, a strong resume that promotes the value you bring to an employer, will make it much easier to negotiate favorable employment terms. Schedule a free consultation with us to learn how we can help you.

Updated and republished from an article that was originally published Oct 4, 2010