Date Added: September 2012
Note: This article appeared in the September 16, 2012 issue of The Green Bay Press-Gazette.
People are continually seeking different career opportunities; often because they don't have a job, or are dissatisfied or unchallenged in their current role. While your job shouldn’t define who you are – you do via your character, grace and gifts – the following five items have served me well to strive for a healthy career balance.
These items may not apply to everyone; yet, the key is to create your own list for a desirable career balance. Let’s agree that finding a job you are passionate about is important, so it will not be addressed in this article. The five career items are:
Fulfillment/Impact: This is a need to be fulfilled and positively impact all touchpoints. It is a compilation of all five items and includes happiness. If the following four items occur, fulfillment occurs. This is a personal feeling defined by you – only you know when it occurs. It may not occur every day, but should occur most days.
Challenge: The need for wisdom, lifelong learning and continuous improvement. Some like the challenge of building/developing new things; others prefer the challenge of sustaining. Both are needed. Building/improving new things can occur within the same organization if the organization is large enough and/or has leadership allowing for the freedom to be innovative. Sustainment is important for organizational consistency.
Work/Life Balance: There are times requiring 70+ hours per week; however, this should be the exception vs. the norm (45-55 hours). You may not have a happy family life without this. I once worked 70-80 hours per week for several months and became used to this, until my wife expressed her displeasure. We need to step back and determine what is most important in our lives. Your life purpose should be more than your job.
Flexibility: This is the most personal item, which may not apply to many. Flexibility to attend meetings during the day for community/humanitarian efforts is important to me. As long as results are achieved, flexibility should be allowed. This relates to a culture that trusts employees, while holding them accountable for results.
Compensation: This makes the list, emphasizing "fair and reasonable." This involves total compensation vs. salary alone, which includes benefits, vacation, retirement accounts, etc. Making a ton of money at the expense of the items above wouldn't work for me. In my opinion, it’s simply not worth it because the others are more important. Making a “fair and reasonable” income with all items above equals fulfillment.
Use these five items as a guide to determine your desirable career list and compare them with your current role. Some items become higher priorities based on life situations; and the key is to have balance among all items. If one is high and another is low, the job may not be right. I once had a job where all items began balanced, but over time "Challenge" went away, creating imbalance.
Prolonged imbalance creates lack of both fulfillment and engagement – not good for you or your employer. When imbalance happens, seek to rectify it. If it’s going to occur for an extended time, determine why it’s occurring and promptly address it with your leader. While holding you accountable for results, your leader should seek to ensure you are fulfilled, challenged and have a “fair and reasonable” total compensation package; while helping maintain a good work/life balance and flexible environment.
Some may view it as unrealistic to achieve balance among these five items. Is it realistic to settle for less?