10 Tips for Improving Your Work Life
By Maureen McCann.
Whether you’re a career practitioner in private practice, in a not-for-profit agency, or in a for-profit company, you owe it to yourself to conduct regular self-reflection sessions about your work life satisfaction. After all, we do spend a lot of time occupied in our chosen professions. Why not make that time as fulfilling as possible? Here are 10 tips for improving your work life.
- Strengthen your boundaries – Set firmer rules for yourself about your working hours, what you’re willing to accept and what you are not. You’ll want to ease into this slowly, making only minor adjustments to your schedule before sharing these changes with your clients and, if applicable, the people you work with/for.
- Lower your expectations – It is not your employer’s or your client’s job to set your goals, make you happy, deal with conflict, etc. Yes, an employer must provide things such as basic human rights and a safe work environment, but remember that most of what you expect to get out of your work is down to you and your attitudes. Choose to be positive and happy.
- Be realistic – There are things about your work that you can change and things you cannot. Have the wisdom to know the difference. You’re probably not going to get the corner office if you’ve just started a new job. But, if you work hard, have a plan in place, and put in the time to prove yourself, you will position yourself as a contender for that corner office in time.
- Take a break – Schedule your vacation, take a long weekend, do whatever you need to do to escape work for a while. Take some time to gain perspective about your work situation; taking a break to unplug, reflect, and plan will do your career all kinds of good.
- Start doing more of what you love – Identify and pursue things that interest you. These may be hobbies, volunteer work, or something else altogether. The point is to bring “joy” into your life in a way that is not directly tied to your work. Once you find something, continue to build on its momentum, adding more joy as you go along.
- Join groups – Start small, then once you feel you’re ready to take on more, set goals to meet new people and connect with others who share your interests. Maybe you’ll join your professional association, a networking group, or a speaking group. Perhaps there is an alumni group you’ve been meaning to reconnect with or a travel group that looks interesting. Whatever you choose, take one step towards making it happen this week.
- Be receptive – Consciously practice emotional intelligence. Watch, listen, and learn. People bring unique perspectives to every situation. Remember that your experience is “yours” and you shouldn’t expect that everyone will respond the way you would. There is more than one way to do things or to deal with challenges, and your way may not be the way (this time).
- Define a long-term career strategy – To get to where you want to be on your career journey, you must first know where you want to be. A general or vague idea will not do; richer, more successful, promoted from here to there. You need to get much more specific. For example, “Within five years, I will be a professional writer with six e-books, three blogs, and one Governor General’s Literary Award to my name. I will make $X/year, work four days a week, and vacation in the south of France.”
- Use short-term goals as stepping-stones – Now that you specifically know what you want, look for opportunities to pursue each of these. For example, you might start taking writing classes. You might begin researching areas in the south of France. You could pursue an opportunity to meet a well-established publisher who might offer to publish your book (don’t hold your breath on this happening out of the blue: you’ve got to work to make it a reality).
- Take charge of your professional development – There’s nothing like taking courses, attending workshops, etc. to advance your skills and provide a feeling of professional competence. Possessing knowledge and skills that are leading-edge will give you the confidence of knowing you’re prepared for anything your clients or employer may challenge you with.
What tips for achieving work life satisfaction would you add to this list? Let us know in the comments.