Think about any transitions that are going on in your life currently, and the roles that are associated with that transition. Perhaps a mentor has recently moved away, leaving a gap in your career development. Perhaps you’ve recently had a baby (congrats) and you’re managing that personal role transition into a parent. Make a list of all the roles that you play in your life, the hats that you wear, and then identify which roles are currently in a state of transition. This will help you identify some of the major stressors in your life currently. In addition to role transitions, other major stressors may include financial strains and situational stressors, such as sleep deprivation, or information overload/workload.
Each of us has a personal recipe for career satisfaction. Usually it is a mix of intrinsic motivation and financial incentive, in other words, you’re getting paid well to do something you believe is good. If your balance between ‘feeling good’ and ‘paid well’ gets off, unhappiness can settle in quickly. Make sure that you are engaging in activities that advance your overall purpose and goal in life. Make sure that you “say yes” to the things you’ve always wanted to do and that make you feel good about yourself. The opposite is true with “saying no” to those things that do not bring the warm fuzzy feelings to your life. Make sure you have a sense of balancing your life, personal and professional, and that your calendar promotes that balance. Finally, make sure you delegate tasks that you don’t like or you’re not good at to others whenever possible. In other words, make sure that you’re happy.
Taking Care of Self
In order to truly take care of your self, you need to identify your personal and professional priorities. This includes striving for that ever-elusive work-life balance. To do this, you need to actively reflect on the areas of your life that are the most meaningful to you. Find the stress-reducing outlets that work best for you, and work them into your weekly schedule. Once you have established a plan to move forward, engage peer advocates to keep you on track and accountable.
What Image Do You Project?
Think about the image you project at work – are you the deadline keeper, a team player, or perhaps you have a national reputation? Practice introducing yourself and be cognizant of the image you are portraying when you meet new people. Also, consider your communication style. Most of our daily interactions happen over email. Make it a habit to communicate in a timely, professional, and grateful manner. Stay true to your self and your goals.
Consider Your Skill Set
Who are you and where is your career taking you? Do you want to become an expert mentor and teacher? Do you want to conduct bench-, translational-, clinical- research? Do you want a role in the quality improvement research happening inside your institution and around the world? Consider the roles that are associated with each of these positions and begin working towards an appointment in one of those areas. Communicate and interpret the best practice for those areas and become a content expert. And lastly, never underestimate an advocacy role!
Consider Every Angle
When you think about your personal and professional goals, it is important to factor in all of possible angles. For example, if you love where you work, first identify your personal and professional priorities and then align them with the most relevant institutional goals. Always strive to achieve work-life balance and develop new ideas on how you will move a career plan forward into areas of work that are most meaningful for you. Reflect on your stressors and watch out for role transitions!
Bring it Together: Create a Mission and Vision
Once you have all your goals and stressors identified, sit down and considers your values and those of your organization. Keeping your personal and professional lives together in the same bucket – create a direction for your career and your life. A mission statement is how you will measure the success of your life. A vision statement describes your desired future state – what does it look like if you achieve your purpose? Use these statements to shape your life, habits, and routines.
Positive and Optimistic Energy
I think one of the most important pieces to a successful work-life balance is your overall attitude towards life. Don’t expect society to change overnight, but keep supporting your own little sphere of influence and invest in your own happiness. Keep your sense of humor. Make sure you are making the most of all opportunities, interests, and resources. Build and advocate for a culture of optimism and professional satisfaction. Be known as a problem-solver and stay resilient. You can do it!