When I think of the word “career”, I think in terms of one’s lifework. It’s about the aspect of life devoted to working. For most of us, that is a long time span and, on average, consists of about 25% of the total hours in a year.
So what career strategies can be put in place so that our working life is as fulfilling as possible? After all, if you’re going to spend all that time working, why not make it one of the best parts of your life?
While I’m nowhere close to retiring, I’ve worked long enough to have some ideas about what can make a career a great part of life. Here are my three favorites:
#1 Make Your Health a Top Priority
Maintaining a healthy lifestyle and being proactive about addressing any health issues is critical. A healthy mind and body provides you with the energy and fortitude to tackle tough business problems, travel as needed and motivate those around you. You have to be present and physically able to work to make a contribution. When you are not feeling well, you can’t contribute like you should. Be proactive in making good eating, drinking, sleeping and exercise choices. Keep those doctor/dentist appointments and remember, your health is the foundation for everything…your quality of life depends on it!
#2 Develop Positive Relationships
Relationships take work. But it’s work that can reap huge benefits. Having solid relationships, both personally and professionally, can make a big difference in your outlook and coping skills when things get tough. If there are people who are toxic and detrimental to your well-being, make a choice to extract yourself from those relationships. Instead, use the time to build and maintain the relationships that are positive and add meaning. Surround yourself with people who support you and feed your soul. That means YOU need to reach out and connect, stay interested in their lives and support them when needed.
#3 Find a Balance
This is not about balancing time you spend at work and home…that’s just not realistic ALL the time. What is realistic is finding a balance in experiencing achievement and enjoyment. Most of us have a similar understanding of “achievement”. My definition of “enjoyment”, relative to this balance, is about doing things that give you satisfaction, happiness and sense of well-being. If you focus only about achievement, it can result in those situations where you are “successful”, but not really happy. If you can find something to do each day that gives you a sense of achievement AND something you do for yourself that you enjoy, then you have a winning balance. I’m fortunate in that I enjoy exercise, so when I go to the gym in the morning, I’m doing a bit of both achieving and enjoying…plus it’s a way I can keep health a top priority!
These three strategies don’t guarantee that you’ll always love your job, but they can help you manage through those tough patches and keep you on the road to finding work that is meaningful for you.
Also, remember that your career is a long-distance race, not a sprint. Pace yourself, enjoy the journey and make your career story interesting and rewarding!
Martha Duesterhoft is Partner with PeopleResults. Follow her on Twitter @mduesterhoft or connect via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.