Career Hacks: Three Truths, Two Lies, and a Dare
How are you doing?
I’ve been thinking a lot about how the nature of work has changed over this year and how it affects our career. Let’s face it, it’s been hard. And exhausting. The pace of change, workload, and the marathon of Zoom calls are overwhelming at times even for a glass half full person like me. It’s not lost on anyone that in a few short days it will be one year since Covid sent many of us home to work in isolation, to socially distance and shelter in place, masked up and six feet apart.
I’m wondering how workers are faring, how you and I can navigate the new normal and implement career hacks to achieve work-life balance, job satisfaction, peace, and joy. These career hacks came to me in the form of three truths, two lies, and a dare, unfiltered. I think they’re worth sharing.
#1 – If you don’t set boundaries, don’t expect anyone to know your limits.
The reason people think you’re always accessible is because you’re always accessible. Your boundaries are for your wellbeing, not theirs. When you don’t set clear boundaries, communicate them, and hold yourself and others accountable for honoring them, then you forfeit your sense of balance, peace, and happiness. Set boundaries for your wellbeing.
#2 – You are important, and you’re replaceable.
Sure, you’re an integral part of the team, but if you’ve ever taken vacation or a leave of absence, then you know organizations adapt without you. Nothing you do or don’t do will change that. Stop obsessing over your job. It’s what you do, not who you are. Take time to pursue other interests and priorities outside of work. Or better still, try slowing down and doing nothing during time blocks or on days you’re away from work. You’re actually more productive, more creative, and more successful when you return from needed breaks. Schedule vacation or care days to nourish and recharge.
#3 – There is enough time in the day.
We all have the same number of hours in each day. Time is not the issue. It’s the choices you’ve made about how you spend the time that’s the problem. Overcommitting to other people’s priorities, underestimating how much time a task takes, or simply not being conscious of how you spend your time can lead to a feeling of time-deficit and burnout. Conduct a time audit and make conscious choices about what’s worthy of your time.
#1 – Type-A Personalities are more successful.
It all depends on how you define successful. If successful means obsessed with work, competitive, easily agitated, have a high level of impatience, interrupt others, have a need to dominate, and associate self-worth with achievement, then okay, Type-A personalities are more successful. They are also more prone to job stress and health-related issues (e.g., hypertension, heart disease, anxiety) and social isolation. You can make a different choice. Type-B personalities can be just as successful without the baggage. Read What it Means to Have “Type A” Personality Traits by Elizabeth Scott, MS and How to Get Ahead in Your Career with a Type-B Personality by Jackie Edwards. Redefine success.
#2 – I will be happy when I get promoted (get a raise).
This is partially true, but mostly a lie. It’s true that people are happy when they receive a raise, but only to a point. A 2010 study by Princeton University found that “emotional well-being only rises with income to a point of about $75,000 for Americans (or $86,000 in today’s dollars).” The happiness dwindles after a few paychecks and is completely dissipated within four years. Promotions bring with them increased workload and less free time, which can negatively impact wellbeing. It’s not bad to get promoted or receive a raise. You’ve earned it. The message here is don’t expect that a raise or promotion will bring you lasting happiness. It won’t. For more on the diminishing returns of earning more money, read No, A Pay Raise Won’t Make You Happier by Bryan Collins and Study Shows a Salary Hike Won’t Make You Happy – So Find a Job You Love by Tehrene Firman Find a job you love, and let the money follow – not the other way around.
I dare you to do each of the five hacks mentioned above. If not all at once, set near-term goals on when you will. The nature of work has changed, and I suggest you adopt new ways of working to increase your balance, peace, and joy in your career and life.
BEFORE YOU GO
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