I recently led a workshop on Resilience for HR executives at a financial services firm that had recently undergone a major restructuring. One VP asked: “How do you allocate time between your personal and professional goals?”
It’s a fitting question for that particular firm because many of the attendees were juggling several jobs and new roles. There was uncertainty, anxiety, and overall fatigue. Yet, the question is fitting for many executive women who juggle multiple roles all the time. How do you keep track of everything and ensure that nothing gets short shrift?
Drop the guilt. The attendees seemed relieved when I told them to just drop some things for now while the restructuring was at its peak. The reality is that there will be times when your life is one-sided and unbalanced. In the long-term you want to even out those cycles and ensure that you build in breaks to refresh and renew. But in a crunch period, it’s more effective to just accept that you have to let some things slide to incorporate whatever extra responsibility has come onto your plate.
Play favorites. It is not about giving the same time and attention to each of your priorities. At times, some will need more or less time. There might be a lull at work, perhaps budget season has passed or the product development cycle is complete, and you can use this time to get your personal taxes in order, get doctors appointments out of the way, or get traction on your exercise plan. I recommend having one personal and one professional favorite at most times, so that you never get too concentrated in one area or another.
Use parallel processing. You always have to ride multiple tracks. Even if we isolate professional goals and discard all personal and even if you like your job, you still have two tracks: your current role and your overall career. These are not the same things. Executing well on your current job does not ensure your overall career. You still need to make sure that the right people know about you, that you stay abreast of market trends, that you maintain and improve your skill set. So regardless of how narrow you want to define your goals, you will always have at least two, and you must budget your time and attention in parallel.