Welcome to SixFigureStart®

Career Coaching by Former Fortune 500 Recruiters

Integrating Personal and Professional Goals

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.

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Are We Working Ourselves To Death?

An interesting Fortune article by Geoff Colvin shows that the death rate decreases and healthy habits improve in recessionary times.

http://money.cnn.com/2009/10/27/news/economy/health_recession.fortune/index.htm

The article credits the declining mortality rates to having more time for exercise and cutting back on expensive cigarettes, among other improved health habits.  This is a great reminder to the currently employed that you don’t want to wait for unemployment to start living better!  Do we really have to lose our job to have time to go the gym?

Our jobs are just one part of our lives.  Even if we work a 10-hour day, that leaves a good 3-5 hours AND weekends for other activities.  Balance out the career focus with exercise, sleep, personal hobbies, reading, community and spiritual involvement, taking care of your finances, seeing friends and family, and other activities that will keep you well-rounded, sane, and healthy.  Make a list today of fun things to do, and check one off your list every weekend till year-end.  This week I’ll be at the New York Botanical Gardens for the Japanese Kiku exhibit.  What fun things do you have planned?

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Give Your Career a Regular Tune-Up

Rate yourself from poor to excellent. Give yourself a 1 if your answer is a definitive no. Give yourself a 5 if you can’t imagine doing any better than you are now. How well do you score on the following:

  • I have a job where I love what I am doing
  • I am in an industry I care about
  • I am based in the location where I want to be
  • I am confident that I am paid at or above my market value
  • I have a career plan including defined goals for the next 6-12 months
  • I have balance between my personal and professional goals

Read my advice on where to go from here in my guest post for Career Rocketeer:

http://www.careerrocketeer.com/2009/10/give-your-career-regular-tune-up.html

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Asking For Work, Life Balance In Your Next Job

At a recent workshop, one attendee asked me how to talk to recruiters about work/ life balance – i.e., she values having a life outside of work and only wants to consider companies with the same mindset.

My advice to her was not to have this conversation with recruiters at all.  See what I advised instead in my latest post for CNBC.com Executive Careers:

http://www.cnbc.com/id/31205745/site/14081545

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