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Ordinary People Taking Action
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Don't Juggle; Make Choices.
A question coaches are asked a lot is, “How can I juggle work and life?” In my experience, when I am asked this question, my client is feeling like they are taking on too much in one area of their lives. I’d like to start by sharing some stories that I think readers may relate to, especially as the holidays approach.
John is an executive at a large company, who tells me he spends a minimum of 14 hours working, at least three hours driving, 4 hours sleeping and the rest taking care of his living needs. Part of his 14-hour workday is spent texting/emailing, starting before 5am most mornings and ending close to midnight most evenings. His phone rings constantly, often during dinner with his family. He almost always answers. His wife and family rarely see him, and even when he’s physically present, he’s frequently mentally distracted.
Jessica has created a habit where she ends her day in the office at 4:30pm so that she can be home for the kids in the evening. She and her husband tag team to get the kids to various sports and commitments in the evenings, all while juggling the dogs, dinner prep and other household/family needs. After the kids are in bed, typically between 9:30 – 10pm, Jessica will log back onto her computer and “catch up” on the work she missed by leaving the office at 4:30. She typically works until well past midnight, sometimes later. She sees her husband daily yet doesn’t feel that they have any truly meaningful interactions.
Emily is just returning to work after giving birth to her second baby boy. Her oldest is about to turn 3 years old, so she is juggling the demands of two young children at home and reentering a director-level job at a larger company. She has been late for every morning meeting this week, realizing it’s hard to get out of the house on time and still meet the needs of her kids. She uses the mother’s room every three hours while at the office and has been leaving every day at 6pm. Once home, she is too exhausted to log onto her work email, and yet her work is just getting started at home. Nights mean getting up every 4-5 hours to feed the newborn baby, leaving her sleep deprived the following day.
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There is a terrific book titled, The Courage to be Disliked, by Ichiro Kishimi and Fumitake Koga. I believe everyone should read this book. I’m borrowing their title.
If there is one thing I have gained in my career (in my life, really) it is the courage to be disliked. Initially, it was difficult. I have values deeply rooted within me of wanting to belong, wanting to be liked and avoiding conflict. Anyone close to me knows how important these three things truly are to me. I also strongly value fairness, professionalism, straight-talk and drive. Others often tell me they see my drive the most. Sometimes it disappoints me that people are quick to appreciate the value of drive over the other qualities.
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Congratulations it’s Friday. You made it through the workweek. We find that many professionals are excited about Friday, heck there is even a phrase “TGIF” (Thank God It’s Friday) that is used widely around the world. Friday brings a celebration of sorts that your workweek is over, and you have two days to “recharge”.
Yet, what we find is that rarely do people truly spend the weekend recharging and come Sunday, many of us dread the thought of heading into the office Monday morning. We are burned out, tired and honestly, disengaged from the work we are doing. It’s a recipe of disaster.
This was the case for me, Tom Perry, a member of the Thinking People Consulting Collective. I spent years in corporate loving my job, until one day I didn’t. My disengagement snuck up on me and yet, looking back there were signs that I missed that were red flags for my engagement turning to disengagement.