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10 Signs You Are Having Work-Life Balance

10 Signs You Are Having Work-Life Balance

Work-life balance is a struggle for many people. Yet, this concept is very new.

According to the Oxford English Dictionary, the first known instance of the phrase only dates back to 1977. The dictionary defines the term broadly: “Of or relating to both work and personal life; designating the relationship between the two.”

Today work-life-balance is a common notion and a concept many people pursuit. Find out if you have achieved a work-life-balance here.

1. You have clear priorities for your life

Coming up with clear priorities for your life means that decisions are easier. You know who is most important to you. If you’re struggling with your priorities and values, there are several resources available to help you. I recommend Michael Hyatt’s Creating Your Life Plan ebook.

Your priorities will tend to shift and evolve over time. A newly minted lawyer in his mid 20s may accept working sixty hours per week to build experience while a senior professional often has the confidence, experience and perspective to say no.

2. You say no to others in order to protect your priorities

Saying no at work is an art. If you constantly say no to the management, your reputation will gradually erode (and your chances for better opportunities and promotions will do the same). On the other hand, a thoughtful no demonstrates that you are thinking through your priorities.

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Tip: Do you struggle saying no? There is an excellent list of ideas and suggestions on how to say no in “Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit Of Less” by Greg Mckeown and in “The Power of No: Because One Little Word Can Bring Health, Abundance, and Happiness” by James Altucher and Claudia Azula Altucher.

3. You accept that work-life-balance is not achieved every day

When you think of work-life balance, you may imagine an ideal world where you arrive at home each and every weekday at 6pm (or leave early to pick up your children from school). Unfortunately, you may not be able to achieve this every week.

For example, corporate accounting professionals often experience long hours during the month-end process. If you know that you will face greater than usual work demands at certain times of the year, plan in advance to meet those commitments. Of course, if you have just completed ten straight weeks of sixty hour work then you probably need to reassess your work habits.

4. You know that value is not measured in ‘face time’

Unless your workplace operates based on a billable hour model, simply logging more hours does not create more value. In fact, Parkinson’s Law suggests that adding time to your work day causes you to lose focus. After all, you may think that you can log in “just a few minutes” on Facebook because you can always make up the time later. In fact, you may want to learn How to Use Parkinson’s Law To Your Advantage.

Tip: Work experience, education and specialization are critical factors in attaining a high income. Simply logging more hours at the office, regardless of value, does not matter.

5. You proactively manage energy

Let me ask you two simple questions about your energy and productivity.

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On a scale of 0 to 10, how would you rate your energy and effectiveness at 10am? How does that compare to 4pm? Many people find that their energy and ability to focus gradually declines through the day. There are two work-life implications from that finding.

First, you sleep well and take use of other stress management techniques to keep your energy at a high level. Second, you keep a reserve of energy when you go home. Few spouses and children enjoy spending time with zombies.

6. You work at an organization that values work-life-balance

Some organizations have a better track record in the area of work-life balance than others. Instead of attempting to change the dysfunctional culture of a large organization by yourself, do yourself a favor and work for an organization that values work-life balance. Fortunately, more and more companies are recognizing the importance of work-life balance so you can find good options in many different industries.

Consult these resources for ideas:

7. You exercise several times per week

Some people consider exercise a luxury to be enjoyed and pursued “some time in the future.” If you are living a balanced life, you have understood the importance of getting exercise. According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention’s physical activity guidelines, an effective exercise week includes both aerobic activity (e.g. walking, running, cycling, swimming) and muscle-strengthening activities (e.g. lifting weights and/or body weight exercises).

Without an effective exercise habit, your energy levels will decline and that will impact your ability to work and enjoy life.

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Tip: Learn how to restart your exercise habit with these 15 tips.

8. You plan one enjoyable activity each and every day

Anticipation makes life sweeter and more enjoyable. Growing up, you may have looked forward to your birthday or Christmas for weeks. Happily, you can harness that same power each and every day. It could be something like reading your current book for half an hour, attending a concert, going out with friends, opening the occasional bottle of wine, or watching Star Trek on Netflix (I enjoy all of those activities!).

Without something enjoyable to look forward to, the daily grind becomes much more challenging.

Tip: Go for active leisure activities such as learning a skill or working on a hobby.

9. You use your vacation days to relax, explore hobbies and work on your Bucket List

According to CBS News: “The average American worker is entitled to 16 days of paid leave. But the length of the average vacation lasts just over four days!”

That means 75% of paid vacation time is going to waste. Your paid vacation time is part of your compensation – failing to use it is like setting cash on fire.

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Here are five ideas on how to use vacation time to achieve better work-life-balance:

  • Save up money and finally go for that “bucket list” trip to Europe
  • Use the time to take care of a long neglected household project: painting a room is a simple and effective way to enhance it
  • Take an extended Christmas vacation: Few companies achieve much in the slow days between Christmas and New Year’s Day making it a perfect time for a vacation
  • Go to a play or sports event in the afternoon
  • Take a class or seminar (e.g. wine appreciation) to deepen your appreciation of your interests

10. You use systems to stay focused and productive

Do you have systems and habits to stay productive? That’s one of the best ways to save time so that you leave the office on time each and every day. You can start by creating some professional assets to increase your effectiveness. You can also experiement with different ways (and different times) to commute to the office. In some organizations, you can achieve a great deal before 9am because the office tends to be quiet early in the morning.

Here are two additional resources to enhance your productivity today so you can get your work done and leave the office with a smile on your face

Featured photo credit: Call Operator with Bluetooth Handsfree/VIKTOR HANACEK via picjumbo.com

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Bruce Harpham

Bruce Harpham is a Project Management Professional and Founder and CEO of Project Management Hacks.

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Last Updated on January 13, 2020

Is It Time for a Career Change? (And How to Make the Change)

Is It Time for a Career Change? (And How to Make the Change)

Are you challenged at work? Do you regret career decisions? Are you happy? If the answer to the questions leads to a negative feeling, it is time to determine next steps.

Many people settle for a career that no longer brings satisfaction. Most will respond by stating, “I am surviving” if a colleague asks them “How’s work?”

Settling for a job to pay bills and maintain a lifestyle is stagnation. You can re-direct the journey of a career with confidence by taking control of future decisions. After all, you deserve to be live a happy life that will offer a work-life balance.

Let’s look at the reasons why you need a career change and how to choose a career for a more fulfilling life.

How to Know if You Need a Career Change?

The challenges of dissatisfaction in a career can have a negative impact on our mental health. As a result, our mental health can lead to the obvious appearance of stress, aging, weight gain and internal health issues.

You deserve a career that will fulfill the inner desire of true happiness. Here are common factors that it is time for you to change your career.

Physical Signs

Are you aging since you started your job? Do you have anxiety? What about work-related injuries?

It feels amazing to receive a pay cheque, but you deserve to work in an environment that brings out the best of you. If the work environment is hazardous, speak to your boss about alternative options.

In the case that colleagues or your boss take advantage of your kindness, feeling the anxiety of fear of losing your job because of a high-stress environment may not be right for you.

Mental Signs

One out of five Americans has mental health issues, according to Mental Health America.[1] In most cases, it is related to stress.

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I remember working at a job in a work environment where harassment was acceptable. I had to walk on eggshells to avoid crossing the line with colleagues. My friends started to notice the difference in that I seemed out of character. It was then that I knew that changing a career to freelancing was the right decision.

Here is a list of mental signs of workplace unhappiness:

  • The tension in your neck
  • Difficulties with sleeping
  • Unable to concentrate
  • High anxiety
  • Depression

If you start to feel your self-esteem is diminishing, it is time to consider if working in a high-stress industry is for you. The truth is, this negative energy will be transferred to people in your life like friends and family.

Are You Sure You’re Not Changing for the Wrong Reason?

Most people that feel they need a career are frustrated with their situation at work. Do you really understand your current situation at work?

The reason it is important to think about the work situation is some people decide to change career for factors that are insignificant. Factors that can potentially change if the person works in a different department or new organization.

Here is a list of unimportant factors to think about before you decide to make the transition:

Desire for an Increase of Salary

The desire for a higher income can persuade some to believe they are in the wrong career. The issue with this is more money requires more time in the office or taking on several positions at a time.

At times, pursuing a high-income role can be the complete opposite of what one is expected. It is what happens when a colleague leaves a company to a new one and returns several years later.

Overnight Decision

Let’s face it. We make overnight decisions when stressed out or disappointed with situations at work. The problem with a quick decision is the negative and positive points is overlooked.

Rejected for a Promotion

I have heard stories of managers that applied ten times for a position throughout a 5-year period. Yes, it sounds to be a lengthy process, but at times, a promotion requires time. Avoid changing a career if you do not see the results of a promotion currently.

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Bored at Work

Think deeply about this point. If you work a job that is repetitive, it is normal to feel bored. You can spice it up by changing the appearance of your desk, socializing with new employees in a different department, joining a leadership committee at work or coming to work with enthusiasm. Sometimes, all it takes is you to change jobs into a fun situation.

A career change can take time, networking, education and the job search process can be a journey. Here is a list of things to consider before making a final decision:

  • How long have you worked in your career?
  • What is the problem at work? Do you work well with the team?
  • Do you receive recognition?
  • Can you consider working in a new department?

If after reviewing your work situation and none of the above recommendations can help, then it’s time to make a career change.

How a Career Change Will Change Your Life

I have a friend that works in the medical industry. She was once a nurse working directly with patients in one of the top hospitals in her area. After five years, she started to internalize the issues with her patients to the point where she felt depressed after work hours. It impacted her relationship with her family and she almost lost herself.

One day, she decided to wake up and take control of her destiny. She started applying for new medical jobs in the office. It meant working on medical documentation of patients which is not an ideal career based on what society expects a medical professional to perform. But she started to feel happier.

It is a classic example of a person that was negatively impacted by issues at work, stayed in the same industry but changed careers.

A career change can fulfill a lifelong dream, increase one’s self-esteem or revive the excitement for one’s work.

You know a career change can be the right decision to make if you experience one or all of these:

  • Working in a negative workplace: Don’t be discouraged. A negative workplace can be changed by working at a new organization.
  • Working with a difficult boss: The challenges of working with a difficult boss can be stressful. All it takes is communication. You can address the issue directly with a manager professionally and respectfully.
  • Feeling lost about what you do: Most people stay at their jobs and settle for mediocrity because of the fear of failure or the unknown. The rise to success often comes with working a tedious role or stepping outside of one’s comfort zone. If you fear the idea of being involved in activities that are new, remember that life is short. Mediocrity will only continue to make you feel as if life is passing you by.

How to Make a Career Change Successfully

The ultimate key to success is to go through a career transition step by step to avoid making the wrong decision.

1. Write a Career Plan

A career plan has a dead line for action steps that includes taking new courses, learning a new language, networking or improving issues at work.[2] A career plan should be kept in your wallet because it will motivate you to keep pursuing the role.

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You can learn how to set your career plan here.

2. Weigh Your Options

If you have a degree in Accounting, write down five positions in this industry of interest. The good news is diplomas and degrees can be used to a variety of roles to choose.

You don’t have to stick to what society holds a top job. In the end, choosing the right role that will make you happy is priceless.

3. Be Real About the Pros and Cons

It is time to be honest about strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats in the job market that are impacting the current situation.

A SWOT Analysis of a career can include:[3]

  • Economic factors
  • Direct competition: Is this role in high demand?
  • Location: Do you need to move? If the goal is to work in tech and living in Cincinnati is not realistic, consider moving to San Francisco.
  • Achievements: To stand out from the competition achievements like awards, committee involvement, freelance work or volunteering is a recipe for success.
  • Education: Do you need to go back to school? Education can be expensive. However, online courses, webinars or self-study is an option.

    A career blueprint is the first step to creating realistic goals. A person without goals will be disappointed without a clear direction of what to do next.

    4. Find a Mentor or Career Coach

    A mentor or a career coach that works in the desired position can share the pros and cons of working in the role. Here is a list of questions to ask a mentor:

    • What is required to be successful in the role?
    • What certification or educational development is needed?
    • What are the challenges of the role?
    • Is there potential for career advancement?

    A chat at a coffee shop with a mentor can change your mind about the desire for a career change.

    Find out how to pick a good mentor for yourself in this article: How to Find a Mentor That Will Help You Succeed

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    5. Research Salary

    Some people decide to change careers for a role that pays less or perks like benefits to make up for the difference in previous to potential salary.

    It can reveal the cities throughout the country that offer a higher salary for those that have an interest in relocating for work.

    6. Be Realistic

    If your goal is to move up into an executive position, it is time to be honest about where you are in your career.

    For example, if boardroom meetings, high-level discussions about financials or attending weekly networking events are boring, an executive role may not be right for you. If you are an introvert and working with people every day is nerve wrecking, you need to reconsider a job in sales.

    Ask yourself if you can work in this role for the next five years of your life. If other benefits that come with the role are enticing, other roles are fit that will make you happy.

    7. Volunteer First

    A person that wants to become a manager should take on volunteer opportunities to experience the reality of the position.

    Becoming a committee member to pursue a presidential opportunity can provide a perspective on leadership, maintaining a budget and public speaking.

    Volunteer in a role until you are certain that it is the right opportunity.

    8. Prepare Your Career Tools

    I recommend asking a boss, colleague or mentor for career tools. If you prefer professional assistance, you can seek out resume writing assistance. Here is a list of things to consider when preparing career tools:

    • Online search: Search your name online to see what shows up. I recommend searching images that are on Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat or other sites on a personal account. The last thing you want to realize is the job search is unsuccessful because there is unprofessional content you posted online.
    • Be LinkedIn ready: Recruiters conduct a LinkedIn search to see if the work experience is the same on a resume. Remember to change the wording on LinkedIn from the resume, or it will appear there was no effort put into creating the profile.
    • Portfolio: A portfolio of work is recommended for people that work in the arts, writing, graphic design and other fields. I recommend a portfolio online and one that is available in hand when attending job interviews or networking meetups.
    • Cover letter: A good cover writer will always impress your potential employers. Here’s how to write a killer cover letter that stands out from others.

    Bottom Line

    It takes time to move towards a new career. Pay attention to the physical and mental signs to maintain your health. You deserve to work in happiness and come home stress-free. If you avoid the common mistakes people make, you will find a job and discover the role in a career field that is the best fit with your skillsets.

    Master these action steps and changing career paths will be on your terms to make the best decision for your future.

    More About Career Change

    Featured photo credit: Pexels via pexels.com

    Reference

    [1] Mental Health America: The State of Mental Health in America
    [2] MIT Global Education & Career Development: Make a Career Plan
    [3] Creately: Personal SWOT Analysis to Assess and Improve Yourself

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