The journey towards ‘balance’ seems to come up often as I work with leaders and young professionals. Early on, I always assumed balance meant that we gave parts of our lives equal attention, especially with the on-going, ambiguous, and somewhat unhelpful “work/life” balance discussion. Recently though, I’ve come to find that balance is more a state of mind, and it has to do with how you perceive and feel about the rhythm of your life, your work, and your service. Balance is an individualized pursuit and a science of one.
So to that end, I thought I would offer a second mini-series exploring the eight areas identified by the ‘Wheel of Life’ as I’ve had some new insights about the topic for leaders and individuals. Conversations around wellbeing and career seem prominent in my coaching and strategic planning recently, so I wanted to spend some time this week offering questions that you might ask as you consider beginning a job transition.
Discovering a Sense of Wellbeing in Your Career
I fear that people are often disappointed or frustrated with their place of work, their career, their supervisor, the team they serve on, and/or their compensation. I enter into most of these career discussions encouraging people to look carefully at where they’re at now, and what can be improved or addressed in their current context.
If a shift to a new job seems like the only answer, I encourage clients to still undergo a concerted effort to make their current work responsibilities viable and fulfilling. Too often, the grass is not greener on the other side when a professional moves positions. Job transitions are too often wrought with disappointment. Additionally, I advocate for organizations’ need to retain talented staff as most businesses and leaders are willing to work on common challenges to avoid turnover. Turnover is costly and a huge timesink. I believe employers and employees can find common ground so that both sides can excel.
If the effort is made to make the grass greener on the side we’re on today, yet it’s still not right, then professionals must carefully explore questions about their next steps and identify the expectations they have for their transition. Professionals must also recognize that this process takes time, energy, and gritty work; the world does not owe us the ideal job, we must work for it every step of the way.
And be open to possibilities here. Sometimes this process of looking at other jobs leads to solutions that might make your current job viable, or opens up other doors that you hadn’t considered yet. So if you’re looking at a career shift to improve your wellbeing, here are some questions and exercises to get started.
1) What are you hoping for from a new job?
- A step up in leadership responsibilities?
- An opportunity to learn new skills and advance in the organization?
- Better compensation (time off, location, pay, benefits, schedule)?
- A healthier work environment, which includes _____________?
Note here: Get specific … it’s likely that no job is going to be perfect. When you think about pay, what’s the minimum viable increase you want to see? Is a job with just a slight increase in one of these areas worth it? One client I worked with set a standard that a job worth looking at needed to be a 20% improvement across the board. This helped him see the value in his job right now, and made him appropriately careful about the jobs he seriously considered.
2) So, what are your other ‘must haves’ from a new job?
3) On a scale of 1 – 10, how do you rate your current job in terms of the work environment?
- On a scale of 1 – 10, how do you rate your current job in terms of assignments and responsibility?
- On that scale, how do you rate your satisfaction with your current job?
4) As you review job descriptions and potential places you could work, how do they rate in comparison? Rate the work environment (organization culture etc.) and the actual tasks.
5) When you review these new job descriptions, how do you feel intuitively about them? What’s your gut response in terms of the satisfaction and happiness the job will provide?
6) As you review jobs, are you finding that you might not have the qualifications, degrees, or certificates to apply for positions that are a 20% improvement? What’s your willingness to spend a year getting a degree or certification you need?
Logistics, Timing and Red Flags
7) What’s your transition timeline?
- How long do you think it’s going to take to go through a job transition?
- How soon do you need to get going on your job search if you’re not already?
- When will it work to transition given the context of your life? What’s reasonable?
8) What types of jobs, industries, or responsibilities are you open to? Are there places and positions you haven’t considered that might be a fit?
9) What are your absolute ‘nos’ about a job? What are the red flags you should look for in a job that will help you know it’s not a fit?
Always Be Learning
10) What are you learning during this process?
- Are you recording or journaling your experiences, tracking what goes well or falls short during interviews and application processes? Are you getting feedback from others?
- Are you remembering everything you’ve learned from earlier processes or books you’ve read? Would it be helpful to create a series of learning statements from past experiences that you can refer to during this process?
Example: I learned ___________ during this interview, so next time I will __________
It might be the case for you that your career is at the center of your wellbeing and you are eager to get it balanced so that everything else can fall into place. Please reach out to me if you would like some more resources, ideas or questions to explore. This is just the beginning.