Creating a meaningful work and life balance – 7: negotiating for a quality of life part 4
This is my seventh installment in a series on creating a work/life balance that would hold meaning and value for you, and the fourth in that on how to proactively make this happen (see my Guide to Effective Job Search and Career Development, postings 150-155.) Up to now I have largely focused on the here and now of negotiating in the framework of a current job and workplace situation. I want to step back in this posting to take a broader perspective where you think, plan and negotiate for longer term goals and needs. This means negotiating in terms of work and quality of life through longer stretches of a career path and in terms of significant portions of an overall work life.
• What are your needs, goals and aspirations for the here and now? It is important to start this by identifying where your thinking is in fact short-term.
• Now where would you like to be in five years, and even in ten?
• How close are you to retirement or some other significant benchmark event for your life? That can mean your youngest child moving off to college. This type of event can come up in a wide variety of ways and at a wide range of times through a work life. The idea here is that something happens that increases, decreases or in some other way significantly changes your non-work life options and decisions.
• What are you doing now that would facilitate your achieving the positives you would reach? What are you doing that might hinder this?
I find myself thinking of specific colleagues I have worked with as well as my own personal experience here. When I was in my twenties I worked for a while with someone in his late thirties who had a goal of retiring when he was fifty. So he worked two full jobs, living off of one salary and investing the other. This was his quality of life decision, trading life beyond work in the here and now and with a pretty firmly set time limit for that, for realization of a longer term quality of life goal. I have seen people make a somewhat similar decision with increased work now to help finance their children’s educations, or to make more distant travel during vacations possible, among other things. What is important and hold meaning to you?
Long term goals can begin at a later point in time and be long term in that sense. They may begin in the here and now and simply be goals that would require longer term commitment to maintain as quality of life objectives. If you goal is to vacation in every US National Park, that is a here and now commitment for the coming big annual vacation but it is a long term commitment too as there are quite a few of them.
If I have a single take home lesson point to make in this posting it is that we all have both short term and even throw-away goals and we also have longer term goals, needs and desires. It is important to know which is which and to think in terms of what we are doing now and what we need to be doing now if we are the reach the longer term, more consistently important ones. We need to do that if we are to negotiate in the here and now to make our desired long term possible. We need to plan our careers in terms that include but go beyond our jobs and our work lives themselves. This can be about us, and our family’s needs. It can be about creating long lasting value for the community we live in. We may see many needs we have to reach a path through, each with their sometimes consistent, sometimes diverging needs. But mostly we have to think beyond the immediate here and now to what is long-term important to us. If I achieve anything with this posting it should be in provoking some thought about these issues, and as early as possible when more is possible and achievable.
The next posting I am going to add to this series will touch upon work/life and quality of life issues in the face of life-changing events and sudden and unexpected turns that life can and does bring.