Why Work Life Balance Is A Unicorn

unicorn

Work Life Balance is extinct.

Compartmentalization is so last year.

The concept used to be a Venn Diagram with the left circle representing your professional life, the right circle your personal life and the overlap the “balance.”

Now your life is just one big circle, a.k.a. Work Life Integration.

If you’re unhappy at work, you’re unhappy in life (and vice versa).

That doesn’t necessarily mean follow your passion (although nothing’s wrong with it). It means focus on your desired lifestyle and find a career to support it.

Job turnover isn’t just a Millennial thing. It’s reality moving forward.

Admit it. You’re most likely not going to work your current job for the rest of your lifetime (the benefits aren’t that great right?), so job-hopping becomes the norm.

Blame it on the following reasons: Boredom. Multi-Passionate. Uncertainty.

But the biggest reason: Life Stage.

If someone asks me how I feel about entrepreneurship now vs. when I started (almost 10 years ago) my response is: I’m married and have 2 kids.

It doesn’t mean I don’t love being my own boss anymore. It means my family is more important.

So using the lifestyle analogy, I’ll stick with being an entrepreneur as long as it supports me financially enough to control how much time I spend with my family.

Your career (and life too) goes through seasons of change.

Balance isn’t achieved by being proactive.

The tension between battling priorities in your life sharpens your choices.

Choose what’s most important to you based on the most valuable currency: time.

That’s no myth.

Why Culture Is King & Position Is Queen

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When’s the last time you thought about applying for a new job?

Truth is, much like the cliche “the grass isn’t always greener on the other side,” it may not be your job that’s actually frustrating you.

The reason culture is king and position is queen is because the former rules over the latter.

Let’s say you land your dream job, but the culture is so toxic you end up quitting?

On the other hand, step into a company culture where you feel valued and working your way up doesn’t seem so bad anymore.

As a career coach, here are the implications: don’t just apply for positions, apply to companies you want to work for. If you get into the right cultural fit, it’s fairly easy to move up as an internal candidate.

That means as a job seeker (passive or active) you should be targeting companies you want to work for as much as positions you qualify for. The corporate world is evolving and what forward-thinking companies realize is: if you take care of your employees, they will in-turn take care of your customers.

In this day and age you and I have a plethora of choices.

A.D.D. isn’t a disorder, it’s the norm.

That means as workers, you have options.

Purpose and passion have been replaced by lifestyle as the driver…and culture supports that.

The Evolution Of Your Dream Job

dream-jobs

Everybody has dreams…but dreams change.

What you consider today as your dream job will most likely change in the next few years. It will happen for a number of reasons: experiences, life stages, interests, etc. I’ll discuss the real reason later.

Clients ask me, “What if the perfect job is out there, but I don’t know it exists?

Good question. My response: you don’t know, that’s why you need to keep looking and applying.

Maybe not the answer you want to hear, but if your dream job doesn’t exist yet, create it.

Think about it. Interviewing for a job is essentially selling yourself. Creating a job is selling your idea (basically entrepreneurship).

Easier said than done, but the average tenure at your current job is less than 2 years. That’s not too far off from the average tenure of your dream career either.

We change jobs like we flip through the channels on TV. I tell my clients, “I can help you find the one career that best suits you, but expect this process to start over a few years from now.”

My job as a career coach isn’t really to help you figure out what to do next, it’s to help you figure out yourself (so you can do the process over in the future).

To loyalists this might sound depressing, but it’s just a sign of the times. Just like you and I will have to maintain a side hustle just to survive, your lifestyle will dictate your decisions, not your dreams.

For example, when you’re in your early 20’s you’re willing to be a slave to your career. Fast forward to your mid 30’s with a family and kids and you start saying “no” more than “yes” when it comes to work. During that time span what you considered as your dream job changes at least twice!

When it comes to your dream job the better question to ask is: why?

Why do I want this dream job? What does it represent? What can it provide?

I used to think I wanted to be an entrepreneur (and I still do), but what I really wanted: flexibility and control.

That can be found as a business owner, but it can also be found working for a company. My priorities shifted when I got married, then again when I had kids. That’s why your dream job will evolve too.

It is said that we are afraid of change, yet we do it all the time. We change our clothes, we change our interests and we change our jobs.

Your dream job will change over time…because you will change first.

How Lifestyle Has Changed The Job Market Forever

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Lifestyle matters.

Not only that, but it’s a driver. Let me explain.

Work-life balance isn’t achievable unless you start viewing your professional and personal life as one. If you’re unhappy at work, you’re going to be unhappy at home (same goes for vice-versa). Therefore the biggest “perk” you can receive is flexibility, also known as control of the way you spend your time.

Use Millennials as an example. One of their most treasured entities is travel. There’s not one particular destination that is preferred, instead work “book-ends” vacations.

Having kids may limit the frequency of trips, but the focus of time-off shifts to family. Ideally school and work schedules coincide to maximize time spent together. On the other hand, if you’re married to your career, you’re better off being single these days.

In both examples above there is one constant: lifestyle. As so beautifully stated in Flexibility: The New Definition of Success,  the meaning of work now is to: support your desired lifestyle.

Smart companies get this. You can give people all the perks in the world, but if they don’t have autonomy (otherwise known as trust), they’ll eventually leave to find it.

Lifestyle has even caused a seismic shift in entrepreneurship. Scaling, growth and more profit aren’t assumed goals anymore. More families are starting businesses simply to provide a means to survive together. The term lifestyle entrepreneur shouldn’t be looked down upon anymore because the rules of being an entrepreneur have changed.

In previous articles I cover remote working quite a bit because it supports the shift to lifestyle as a motivator. Just like company culture can be more important than landing your dream job, lifestyle is no longer a means to an end, but an end in itself.

 

Why Goals Are Overrated

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Coaching is much more like personal training than therapy, yet goals shouldn’t be the focus.

Let’s take your next career move as an example. If you’re looking for a new job, you’re normal. But the question is once you achieve that goal, will you be happy?

Research says short-term yes, but long-term no. The average tenure in a position is under 2 years for Millennials and rapidly shrinking. It has a bit to do with short-attention span, but mostly because of lack of purpose and challenge.

A job can fulfill that, but ultimately a combination of lifestyle and utilizing strengths is what matters. Let me explain.

People don’t work just to make money anymore. They want a job to provide their desired lifestyle. I’ve worked with plenty of clients who hate their job, but won’t leave because it supports the lifestyle they want to live. There’s also many people who stay at a low paying job because it allows them to pursue their passions on the side or make an impact at work.

Now moving on to strengths. If passion + strengths + experience = purpose, then strengths is the most important aspect. Passion and experience combined is the American Idol candidate who can’t sing. You have God-given talent, but it’s others who validate your strengths. The prime example are professional athletes. Paid extremely well to do one thing.

You might be saying, “But what if I’m not a professional athlete?” Well neither am I and here’s my answer: You may not get paid to play sports, but there’s 1 – 2 things you do really well. Find those things and do them over and over.

According to Malcolm Gladwell, it takes 10,000 hours of practice to become successful at one thing (approximately 10 years if you’re wondering). That means there are no overnight success stories. Here’s my overall point:

Goals are like checking off a to-do list. Habits create the lifestyle you want. If you want to have a successful career you better figure out what tasks you should be doing on a daily basis, regardless of your job. I tell my clients after the initial session, finding your next career move will be easy…but understanding your strengths, knowing where you best “fit” and building confidence is what I really want to see flourish.

So stop worrying about setting and accomplishing goals. Instead identify the successful habits that will fulfill your desired lifestyle and do that, daily.