Fit, Not Balance

Top 10 Tips for Work+Life “Fit” Success in 2014

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Preparing to participate in the TODAY Show’s #DoingItAll series with Maria Shriver, made me think about the tips I’d want to share with everyone to help them be their best, on and off the job, in 2014.  So, here they are!

1) The goal is work+life fit, not balance. A perfect 50-50 split between your work and your personal life doesn’t exist.  And, for many people, “integration” is not the solution. It is the problem. They want work and life as separate as possible. Whether blended or separate, lots of work or a little, find your work+life “fit” or the way work fits into your life based upon your unique work and personal realities at a particular time.

2) Your employer can’t give you your work+life fit. Whether you have flexibility and support in your workplace or not, you still need to make your everyday work+life fit happen as deliberately as possible. And our research continues to prove most of us aren’t following the simplest steps that would make a big difference in our personal well-being and professional performance.

3) You have to learn how to manage your everyday work+life fit, flexibly and intentionally. It’s a modern skill set we all need to succeed, but few of us have. We are not taught how to put small, strategic boundaries up and allocate our time, money and energy across all the areas of our life. And we need to learn. What does that skill set look like? The Tweak It practice is one example of an everyday work+life fit how-to, while Work+Life is a process to create a formal flexible work plan that resets your work+life fit.

4) See all of your work, career and personal “to dos” as a big, beautiful buffet of possibilities.  We are too reactive to everything that comes at us daily. Reframe all of those endless “to dos” and see them as part of a big, beautiful buffet.  You can’t eat all of the dishes at once, even though most of us try to.

5) Set aside 20 minutes each week to reflect what you need to do and want to do at work, in your career and in your personal life.  This is where you will figure out how many servings you can take from which dishes on your work, career and personal life buffet to be your best over the next seven days.  Again, our research shows most of us don’t ask these simple questions.

6) Take small, meaningful actions, or “tweaks,” to close a gap between what’s happening in your work+life fit and what you want to have happen. Too often, we think a huge change is required to resolve the everyday overwhelm we feel. When the truth is a cup of coffee with a friend, doing your grocery shopping for the week online, or getting your haircut can make a big difference. But, once again, our research shows most of us don’t do this.

7) Keep a combined work and personal calendar and priority list.  You’ve identified the small, meaningful actions, or “tweaks,” you want to make in key areas over the next seven days. Now add them to a calendar and priority list that displays both your work and personal “to dos” for the week in one place. That way you are making decisions throughout the day based on a complete picture of what you want to accomplish on and off the job.

8) Good time management, or “what” you are going to do “when” is not enough. You have to think about “where” and “how” you will complete a particular tweak if you want it to happen.

9) Help each other! Life is way too fast-paced, and complex to think that we can go it alone and achieve success and well-being without any help. We have to work together to achieve our unique work+life fit goals in a mutually beneficial way. Want to try to walk for 30 minutes at lunch three times a week? Ask a colleague to cover for you, and then offer to cover for them if they have an important “tweak” they want to accomplish.

10) Celebrate success. If you choose seven additional work, career, or personal life tweaks for the week, but only accomplished five because of a customer crisis at work, and then your daughter got sick, celebrate the five you achieved. Perfection is not the goal. Life happens. Celebrate what you do get done, because it’s probably more than would have happened if you didn’t choose at all.

Here’s to a 2014 full of personal and professional success!

Related article: Fast Company–5 Insanely Simple Work Life Balance Shortcuts from People Who “Have It All” 

I invite you to connect with me and add to the list of “tips” in the comments section, on Twitter #worklifefit or on our Facebook page.

TODAY Show #DoingItAll Series–Links, Highlights and Gratitude

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What an exciting week!

It was an honor to participate in the #DoingItAll series on the TODAY Show in support of Maria Shriver’s important, groundbreaking, The Shriver Report: A Woman’s Nation Pushes Back from the Brink.

Many of you have asked for links to the segments and key takeaways…so here you go!

Tuesday: Two Amazing Women #DoingItAll

First, on Tuesday, I worked with two truly remarkable women who epitomize what it means to “do it all.”

Both of these women approach the challenges in their lives with courage, persistence, optimism and humor. They inspired me.

Watch and listen to their stories and my advice (video links below):

How to set productive boundaries: Teleworking, independent marketing consultant and single mom of two

How to ask for help and take small, doable, intentional steps: Small business owner, and single mom of three 

 

Wednesday: #DoingItAll Help-a-thon

Then, on Wednesday, a group of finance, health, legal, career and life experts gathered in the TODAY Show studios to answer questions posted by viewers on email, Twitter and Facebook.

We were there from 7 am to 12 pm est. You have not seen a more dedicated group of people. We tried our best to answer as many of the hundreds of often very difficult, emails, tweets and posts that people sent in.

In this picture, Hoda and Kathie Lee pay us a visit in the Orange Room during their show. The experts pictured (starting from the bottom left) are Dale Atkins, Sylvia Ann Hewlett, Carmen Wong Ulrich, Dr. Janet Taylor.  Then in the back row (starting on the right), Dr. Roshini Raj, Valorie Burton, Lisa Bloom, and then me.

Down in the main studio were Dr. Nancy Snyderman, Sharon Epperson and Dr. Gail Saltz.  And in Washington, D.C. with Maria Shriver, were Ellen Galinsky and Jean Chatzky.

#DoingItAll Series Gratitude

As I reflect on the experience, here are the three things I am most grateful for:

Maria Shriver: I am grateful that she used her powerful platform and voice to draw attention to the realities of millions of women (and men!) who are trying to do it all under very difficult circumstances.  If you haven’t done so already, read  The Shriver Report–A Woman’s Nation Pushes Back from the Brink, and take at least one or two of the “next steps” outlined in the study. (And yes, she is as smart, nice and cool in person as she appears on television.)

TODAY Show: For sharing the stories of real women who are #doingitall and then trying to connect viewers with the resources they need.

The people I met who truly care and want to make a difference: From Maria Shriver, to the TODAY Show producers, to the experts participating in the Help-a-thon, to the participants in The Atlantic’s day-long symposium streamed live yesterday, people care. Individually, we may be limited in what we can do, but together we can make a difference. And it starts with caring…I saw that in spades.

Finally, as I prepared for the segments and the Help-a-thon, I thought about what I wished everyone knew to help them manage work and life, better and smarter, in 2014.

So, stay tuned…next week I will share my “Top Ten Work+Life Fit Tips for 2014.”  And I want to hear your ideas, too!

Together, we can succeed while we’re #DoingItAll.

Want to continue the conversation between posts?  I invite you to connect with me on Twitter @caliyost and to visit/like our Facebook page.

 

TODAY Show–#Doing It All, The Shriver Report

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This week is special, so you will hear from me a bit more than usual over the next few days.

On Sunday, Maria Shriver officially released the findings from her new, groundbreaking, The Shriver Report–A Woman’s Nation Pushes Back from the Brink. 

In addition to the report (which I highly recommend), on Wednesday 1/15, you can tune in to the day-long symposium in Washington D.C. hosted by The Atlantic and streamed online.

But the launch events don’t stop there.

To support the study, the TODAY Show has partnered with Shriver to offer how-to advice and support to the majority of women in the U.S. who are “doing it all”, but especially the 1 in 3 who are near or at the brink of poverty.

Not everyone works for the forward-thinking organizations that ask me to consult with their leadership and share strategies with their employees; therefore, I am always looking for ways to spread the “work+life fit” message more broadly, especially to those who need it the most.

So, I was thrilled when the TODAY Show approached me to be a member of the team of experts who will appear this week to offer advice to real women struggling with the everyday overwhelm of jobs, kids and life.

While programming is always subject to last minute changes, it looks I will help two women on Tuesday. One will be in a segment we taped in December (see above) with a terrific mom in Houston, and the other will happen live in the studio with Hoda and Kathie Lee.

Then on Wednesday, I will join a team of finance, health and career experts for the TODAY Show’s first-ever LIVE “Help-a-thon”. We will answer questions live on email, Twitter and Facebook, so check it out and participate from 7 am to 12 pm est. Jump in, ask questions and offer your advice! Follow #DoingItAll.

The reason you will hear from me more frequently this week is that I’m going to kick-off the “Helpathon” on Wednesday by sharing the first five of my “Top Ten Work+Life Fit Tips for 2014.” Then, I will follow up on Thursday with the final five tips, and an insider’s recap of the Helpathon experience.

Together, we can make a difference for everyone (men and women) “doing it all”!

I invite you to connect with me on Twitter @caliyost and on our Facebook page.

Gen-Y: “Promote Yourself” to Get the Work Flexibility and “Balance” You Desire

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Trust me, my corporate clients recognize that Gen-Y/Millennials place a high premium on work-life “balance” and flexibility in the when, where and how they do their jobs.  

What those same corporate clients don’t 100% trust is that their under 30 year old employees understand that the secret to “balance” and greater flexibility is…performance and results.

In other words, if you consistently deliver and “do what you say you are going to do, when you say you are going to do it,” fewer people are going to stand in your way if you want to work from home one day or shift your hours (assuming it makes sense for your job).

But how do you achieve that optimal level of performance and deliver those results in today’s workplace so that, in turn, you can achieve your goals, on and off the job?

In every generation, there will always be people who don’t want to make the effort.  But my experience has been that most millennials are willing to work hard.  They just need someone to lay out what that looks like in action, because the secrets to success that worked for their 50 year old boss, aren’t necessarily going to work for them.

Dan Schawbel’s new book, “Promote Yourself,” is a great place to start.  It offers an honest roadmap, like his “14 rules of the new workplace that millennials need to master“:

  1. Your job description is just the beginning.
  2. Your job is temporary.
  3. You’re going to need a lot of skills you probably don’t have right now.
  4. Your reputation is the single greatest asset you have.
  5. Your personal life is now public.
  6. You need to build a positive presence in new media.
  7. You’ll need to work with people from different generations.
  8. Your boss’s career comes first.
  9. The one with the most connections wins.
  10. Remember the rule of one.
  11. You are the future.
  12. Entrepreneurship is for everyone, not just business owners.
  13. Hours are out, accomplishments are in.
  14. Your career is in your hands, not your employer’s.
Millennials, if you follow these steps, you are much more likely to hear “let’s give that flexibility you want a try,” rather than the often unfair and misguided “you just don’t want to work hard.
To learn more about Dan Schawbel and “Promote Yourself”

Choose Specific Weekly “Tweaks” to Be Your Best, On and Off the Job (Quick Tip #5)

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Welcome to Day #5 of the TWEAK IT “Quick Tips” Video Series! 

For six days, I will share  short, get-started nuggets of wisdom to help you fit work and life together every day in a way that let’s you be your best, on and off the job.

My friends at Citrix produced the videos to preview the FREE Webinar: “TWEAK IT: Harness the Power of Small Changes for Work-Life Harmony” webinar I am facilitating Tuesday, June 18th at 1:00 pm est.

Join us for the webinar (more than 1,000 people have signed-up so far) and enjoy the tips!

TWEAK IT Tip #5: Choose Specific Weekly “Tweaks” To Be Your Best, On and Off the Job

Today, I explain:

  • How choosing specific “tweaks” related to work, your career and your personal life build a foundation of well-being and order
  • Why that foundation helps you be your best, on and off the job, and
  • Why those “tweaks” will be a combination of ongoing, “standard” actions and priorities that happen week after week, and “unique” tweaks that will always change.

Tomorrow’s Tip:  Don’t Expect Perfection, and Celebrate Success.

Replay: Live TWEAK IT Book Launch Webcast with Me and Maggie Mistal

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Join the TWEAK IT revolution and make what matters to you happen in 2013!

Thank you to my friend, radio host and top career coach, Maggie Mistal, for co-hosting the LIVE webcast launch of my new book, TWEAK IT: Make What Matters to You Happen Every Day (Center Street/Hachette).

This informative and fun interview covered:

Why we need to “sweat the small stuff”if we want to make what matters to us happen in the face of constantly competing work and personal demands.

What are the 7 modern truths about work and life we all need to embrace, including why there is no work-life “balance.

Who are the work+life “fit” naturals and how can their insanely simple secrets help is manage our lives on and off the job.

How the advice of the 50 personal life and career experts in the book can inspire you to get-started and improve your wellness, personal finances, career, caregiving, and personal and home maintenance.

How the Tweak It Together mobile-friendly site helps you track your “Tweaks of the Week” remotely and share your tweaks, advice and inspiration with others across all of the social media platforms.

How you can win a FREE coaching packet with Maggie Mistal (worth more than $5,000!). You must enter by 1/31/13. Check it out!

Just TWEAK IT!

CLICK HERE==>To replay Live “TWEAK IT” Book Launch Webcast

Radio host and career coach, Maggie Mistal, interviews Cali Williams Yost about her new book TWEAK IT: Make What Matters to You Happen Every Day on a live webcast sponsored by Citrix.

Exciting News for a New Year and a New Day! TWEAK IT!

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I am excited to share news about my new book, TWEAK IT: Make What Matters to You Happen Every Day, which will be published by Center Street/Hachette on January 8, 2013!

I can’t express my deep gratitude to everyone who supported me throughout the TWEAK IT creation journey.  And here it is!

Why TWEAK IT?

Do these everyday work-life tradeoffs sound familiar?

  • Prepare for a meeting, or leave work a few minutes early to go to the gym?
  • Catch up on emails, or meet a friend for coffee?
  • Ask for overtime or take my mother to the doctor?
  • Finish some paperwork, or read at my son’s school?

We all wrestle with questions like these every day.  How do you do your job and take care of yourself, nurture your relationships, keep up your job skills, care for your loved ones and maintain your personal finances and home?

In TWEAK IT, I reveal the secrets of the work+life fit “naturals.”  These are the people I’ve met over the years who seem to fit all of the pieces of their personal and professional lives together with ease.

As I studied the naturals, I discovered they regularly follow four simple practical steps when managing their actions and priorities on and off the job; however, survey results confirmed most of us don’t.  We either don’t know how important these commonsense steps are or we ignore them.  That used to include me!

TWEAK IT shows all of us how to unleash the power of small changes that have a big impact!

How can TWEAK IT help you?

TWEAK IT translates the secrets of the work+life fit naturals into a doable weekly practice that’s accessible to everyone, whether you are a man, woman, mother, father, entrepreneur, millennial, caregiver or pre-retiree.

The weekly TWEAK IT practice of small changes, or “tweaks,” builds that solid foundation of everyday contentment and order we all crave—one step at a time.  You will learn how to:

  • Create a “TWEAK IT snapshot” that brings all of your work and personal realities together in one complete picture.
  • Use your current calendar & priority list to successfully manage this “snapshot” on a regular basis.
  • Choose the standard tweaks you would like to see happen consistently every week (going to the gym every morning, or making sure to sit down with the entire family for dinner four nights out of the week).
  • Pick your unique Tweaks of the Week – the new, periodic small actions and priorities you would like to add to your routine over the next seven days (reviewing household finances, setting up a LinkedIn profile or trying out a new sporting activity during the week).
  • Partner with your boss, coworkers and family members to make these tweaks a reality.
  • Review and revise their weekly Tweak It practices to keep it fresh and relevant.

To ensure your success, TWEAK IT includes the “get started” advice of experts from over fifty work and life related areas, like wellness, career relationships, personal finance, caregiving, and life and home maintenance.

Because I wanted the support and learning to continue even after you finished the book, we created the TWEAK IT TOGETHER mobile-friendly community site.  The site will launch on Monday, January 7th, the day before the book is released!

How can you get started?

Pre-order TWEAK IT! Order now through your favorite online retailer and be sure you are among the first to get it!  Amazon / Barnes&Noble / IndieBound

SPECIAL Limited Time Offer! If you pre-order three or more books, send us a copy of your receipt (cali@worklifefit.com) and we will send you a special thank you gift!

Like the NEW! TWEAK IT Community Facebook Page and Tell Your Friends!

Stay tuned for more updates!! If you haven’t already, be sure to join our mailing list.

As you can tell, I am so excited to share all that I have learned as I researched and wrote TWEAK IT, and I look forward to helping everyone “Just TWEAK IT” in the coming months!

My CNN Headline News “Work+Life Fit (Not Balance) is an Everyone Issue” Segment

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Yesterday, I appeared on CNN Headline News to discuss the work+life “fit” issues raised in Sunday’s New York Times article “When the Work-Life Scales are Unequal.”

Cali Williams Yost, CNN Headline News (9/4/12)

My keys points in the segment were that we need to:

  • De-parent and de-gender the conversation about work and life.  In our modern, hectic world, we all need flexibility and support to manage our responsibilities on and off the job.
  • Communicate and coordinate with each other more effectively to get our jobs done, and to make what matters to us in our personal lives happen as often as possible.  This mutually-beneficial collaboration and coverage model replaces the traditional “9-5, in the office, Monday-Friday” boundaries that used to tell us when work ended and our personal lives began that no longer exist.
  • Stop seeking work-life “balance” because it doesn’t exist.  All we can find is our own work+life “fit” and do it in a way that considers our needs and the needs of the business, our manager, and team.
  • Do a better job planning the personal activities and priorities we want to make part of our week.  See where there might be a conflict with work and identify whom you need to coordinate with.

What I didn’t get a chance to say is when you initiate that work+life fit coordination discussion with your colleagues, focus on “how” you are going to get your job done, and not on “why” you need to work differently.  It makes that conversation more productive and more likely to result in a mutually-beneficial outcome.

7 Tips for New Grads to Achieve Better Work Life Balance

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This past weekend I attended my college reunion. A highlight was the chance to meet current students who helped host the event. When one of these smart and enthusiastic student ambassadors asked me what I did for my career, I explained that I make work more flexible inside of organizations and help individuals to use that flexibility to manage their work and life. But I was unprepared when he replied, “So how do I find work life balance after I graduate?”

Unfortunately, my mind wasn’t in work-mode at that moment and I fumbled my response. It wasn’t until I drove home that I realized what I’d wished I’d told him (doesn’t it always happen that way?).

So here are my top seven tips to help recent or soon-to-be graduates find the work-life “balance” that, research shows, is one of their top priorities:

1. There is no “balance.” Update your language and mindset to reflect what you really want and to get manager support.

When I talk to recent graduates, I don’t hear that they expect a 50-50 split or “balance” between their work and personal life every day.  They realize there will be times when they have to work a lot and other times when they might not. What they want is the ability to work flexibly and differently depending upon what’s going on at work and in their life at a particular time.

As one recent graduate told me, “I am happy to work all weekend if you need me to, but don’t make me sit here all day if I’m not busy and could leave early, run errands, see my friends, and get to the gym.”
It’s time for a language and mindset update.

The language that’s worked for me over the past decade and is being adopted by more employers is work-life “fit,” or the unique fit between your work and personal realities. It will change day-to-day and during major life and career transitions, like going back to school, having a baby, or caring for aging family member.  What you want to have is the flexibility to manage your work-life fit in a way that works for you and your job.

For some, the goal will be the complete, seamless integration of work into your life. However, many will prefer to deliberately separate the two as much as possible. Neither goal is right or wrong. It’s a matter of the work-life fit that you choose.

Another reason to stop using balance to describe your goal is that managers tend to interpret what you are saying as “work less.” They don’t hear “work differently and more flexibly.” In an economic environment where organizations are forced to do more with fewer resources, anything that infers working “less” won’t be positively embraced.

So how do you get support to work differently and more flexibly?

2. Realize you are a “digital native,” but many people you will work with and for are not…at least not yet. You can help them get there. It might seem like a no-brainer to you to get to work a couple of hours later in the morning because you were on the phone with Asia for three hours from home the night before. But that might not be so clear to a manager who expects you to be at your desk by 9 a.m. every day, rain or shine, call or no call. If that mismatch of expectations happens, don’t take it personally. Open a dialogue about how working more flexibly and differently can benefit the business. You do that by remembering to:

3. Focus on how the work will get done and the business will benefit by working flexibly and differently.  Don’t emphasize “why” you want to do it and how you will benefit. As I advised in a recent blog post, managers support flexible work when it’s clear how the work will get done. This is especially true for recent graduate who may require more supervision. Will your manager/supervisor need to be available to answer your questions if you work on a project at night from home? Is that going to be convenient for them?

A recent Student Employment Gap survey of employers conducted by Millennial Branding found that employers looked for teamwork as one of the top skills in their new hires. Show that you are focused on the needs of the business and your team when you propose working more flexibly and differently.

4. Use the power of the “pilot.” If you want to work more flexibly, but your manager resists, offer to test it out for three months. This gives your manager comfort that they aren’t committing to something they think might not work out (even though most likely it will). It’s called using the power of the pilot.

5. Try not to completely disconnect from the workforce for a long period of time. Chances are you will experience a major life transition at some point in your career like having a baby, relocating for a partner’s new job, or caring for an aging adult. Life is long, unpredictable, and expensive. It can be risky to step away from the workforce.

Before you quit completely, try to propose a flexible work plan that will allow you to remain employed while taking care of your new personal realities (click here for a step-by-step, how-to for creating a plan). If you do decide to leave the workforce, be strategic about it. Check out iRelaunch.com for great advice about how to plan a career break. (Click HERE for more at FastCompany.com)

I would love to connect with you on Twitter @caliyost.


Avoid the Five Mistakes That Keep Your Life Unbalanced and Your Workplace Inflexible

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I’ve decided to use Slide Share more often to share the PowerPoint slides from some of my speeches. Here is the slide deck from this week’s Jam Session for 85 Broads! Let me know if you find it helpful.