What’s the Right Balance for You?

What’s the right balance for you?  I don’t mean work/life balance. I see people asking a different and bigger question these days. They’re asking “What role does my job play in the balancing act of life?”  People are leaving jobs like we’ve never seen before. They’re tired. Overworked. Undervalued. Discouraged. No longer willing to tolerate a workplace environment that conflicts with their values and goals/ desires for their lives.

Of the people I’ve spoken to of late who are unemployed, by choice or by chance, one thing is common. They were not happy before they left and they’re not rushing into the next job. They are more concerned about finding the right balance in their lives for the next phase of their career.

It’s most important to find a job and environment where you can thrive professionally and personally.

  If you’re considering whether to stay where you are or leave, before you make that decision, I’d like to give you some questions to consider as you seek out that right balance for your life.

(Stating what I hope is obvious, anything that is illegal or puts you at physical risk has a different decision process and requires immediate action.)

  1. How long could you sustain your current lifestyle with your existing financial resources?

We all need food and shelter so we don’t want to make spontaneous decisions out of frustration or other powerful emotions without considering a few basics.

If you’re considering leaving your current job, take a look at your finances. What would your budget look like if you suddenly went without an income? What could you cut back on? Do you have major expenditures on the horizon that could be postponed if necessary? Would a period of unemployment put any of your other financial goals at risk, and if so, are you willing to do so? For most, this is not the fun stuff, but it’s fundamental to the thought process.

  1. Engage with and enlist the support of partners or others in your life who are close to you.

Financially you’ll need to be aligned. But you’ll also need the emotional support. What are their expectations for how long this break may last?  What will your days look like when you’re not working? Fears and resentments could come to the surface. You may find that your roles in the home change. It’s a conversation, and sometimes a difficult one, that needs to happen.

  1. What’s driving you to leave?

It’s important to know why you want to leave. Are you unhappy with the job content, lack of responsibility, poor pay, bad manager, toxic culture, health scare, or just general malaise? Without knowing why you’re leaving you will be in peril of not making good use of the break and at risk of moving forward into another bad situation.

  1. What lifestyle changes are you seeking?

Maybe you’re at a stage in life where you care less about the pay and more about the hours you’d have to work. Or maybe you’re looking for a job where you feel more directly connected to the purpose of the organization.

Perhaps you’re seeking a different style of life at home. After years of rushing, deadlines and keeping multiple balls in the air, would you enjoy more time around the dinner table with the family?  Or simpler, less expensive vacations, fewer activities and more flexibility? How about some extra time for you? That would be a luxury many women feel they don’t have.

There are many perfectly reasonable choices and tradeoffs for you to consider as you determine what will be important to you in your life and career going forward.

  1. What do you want to get from your career break?

I think this is a critical question. How will you use this time most productively? (By the way, sometimes productivity means doing absolutely nothing for some period of time. Especially when seeking recovery and rest.)

Do you want some space to rethink what’s important? Time to get your health back on track? Retrain or upgrade your skills? Or maybe you just want to have the flexibility to sleep late, de-stress and not feel so responsible for the first time in years.

A friend of mine, a few years after having her two children, decided to take a one-year break from her role as a crude oil trader. She negotiated a break with her company for an agreed period of time so she didn’t have to worry about returning to a job. Her goal as she stated it, was, “I want to see what it’s like to be a stay-at-home Mom. I want to work the school carnivals and sling hash with the lunch ladies.” She found it very satisfying…and was also ready to go back to work after a year. Before she left the job she had a plan. She knew what she wanted to get out of her break, what was important to her during that break and how long she was willing/ able to sustain the break. Even if you don’t know what the back end of the break will look like, give some thought as to what you want to get from the time off.

Moving Forward with Clarity

As a credentialled coach, my job is to help you find the answers that will bring you clarity and contentment.  If you’d like to explore how a coach as partner can help you find the right balance in the next phase of your life, contact me at susan@womenleadingtogether.com or sign up for a Coaching Discovery Call.

Photo: Anatoli Styf/Shutterstock

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Susan Hodge

Susan Hodge

Susan Hodge created Women Leading Together in order to provide one-on-one executive coaching, seminars, workshops, and coaching circles to help career women move forward to create fulfilling professional lives. Visit our website for upcoming programs, articles, and resources to advance your career.

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