Work+Life Fit in 5 Days Series

Why Meredith Vieira’s a Work Life Rock Star

Posted by - . 0

(This post originally appeared on Forbes.com; I am reposting here today to honor Meredith Vieira’s last day on the Today Show)

Meredith Vieira’s a rock star when it comes to managing the way work fits into her life, and there’s a lot her journey can teach all of us. Since 1991 when she was fired from 60 Minutes after requesting to work part-time, I’ve watched her make bold, often unconventional choices with a mix of curiosity and admiration.

In honor of her most recent decision to leave NBC’s Today Show at the top of her game “for more time with my family,” I want to give her a well-deserved public shout out. Like any rock star, her high profile and financial resources make her situation unique. But there are lessons in her story that apply to us all. They can teach us how to more deliberately and consciously manage our own work+life fit:

Lesson 1: When your priorities change, don’t wait until circumstances force you to make a choice.  Make a decision on your own terms, no matter what others say.

When I watch Meredith Vieira make her choices it’s clear she doesn’t really care about what other people think she “should” or “can” do.

In 1991, when she wanted to reduce her workload and hours at 60 Minutes, few people even thought about non-traditional schedules. Her proposal was almost unheard of. I’m sure everyone told her she was crazy, but she tried. And, yes, she was fired.

But the point is that she listened to herself, bucked conventional wisdom of what was “possible” and gave it a shot. Then she didn’t go quietly into the night of obscurity when it didn’t work out (more on that in a minute). She controlled her choices.

Letting go of her Today Show post at the pinnacle of success is an equally bold decision when you consider how many in her position would do just the opposite. Often we hang on to jobs that no longer fit our goals until the choice is forced upon us. This was the case with Christina Norman, the OWN Network’s newly-departed CEO, and Microsoft co-founder, Paul Allen.  (Click HERE for more)

I invite you visit my Fast Company blog and to join me on Twitter @caliyost.  Also, if you are interested in How-To “Make Flexibility Real” sign up to receive our monthly value-packed newsletter and join our new LinkedIn group.

Fast Company: How to Talk About Work and Life Without Getting Into “It”

Posted by - . 2

What is my vision of work+life fit nirvana?

  • Every manager would know how to talk with his or her employees about work+life flexibility. The discussion would focus on how to get the job done while acknowledging that employees have lives outside of work that they need to deal with. The manager doesn’t come up with solutions, but everyone feels comfortable enough to talk about options, without getting into the details of or judging “why” they need to work differently.
  • Every employee would have the skills to take the initiative and present a work+life fit plan that adjusts how, when or where they work in a way that’s a win for them and the business. They would do this in response to any change in their personal or professional circumstances that would cause them to rethink the way work fit into their life. They don’t suffer in silence because they have the skills to present options that make sense for everyone.

Unfortunately, we don’t live in work+life fit nirvana:

  • Most employees have no idea that they, not their manager, need to come up with solutions when work and personal circumstances change. And, even if they did, most wouldn’t know how. Further complicating matters is the fear saying anything in today’s economic environment that would put their job at risk.
  • Most managers are afraid to say anything that would get them sued, and quite frankly, they “just don’t want to get into it.” They don’t know enough about each person’s life and tasks of their job to come up with a workable solution, and they aren’t comfortable getting into the details of “why” behind the desire for a different work+life fit.

As a result, the ongoing conversation doesn’t happen which leads to a productivity-draining, engagement-sucking, stress-inducing stalemate that hurts everyone.

How to break the stalemate and start the conversation without getting into “it”

Thankfully, more employers recognize that they need to break the deadlock. Increasingly I’m being asked, “How do we get employees to tell us what would work for them and for us? And how do we get managers to feel comfortable having the conversation?” Here’s my advice:

  1. Keep it simple by asking the question, “Do you have the flexibility to manage your work+life fit in a way that gets your job done and meets your personal needs?” The question opens the door to the discussion, keeps the focus on the job and doesn’t get into the details of the individual’s personal life. I recommend that managers pose the question to everyone at least once a year (proactive), and then use it to address any issues that come up unexpectedly before the stress and strain becomes noticeable (reactive).
  2. Give employees the tools to be an effective partner and come up with a plan once the door is opened. For an example of this skill set looks like, check out the three-step work+life fit process outlined in my book. Highlights can be found in the Work+Life Fit in 5 Days series.

With a simple question and the skills to create a win-win plan, it’s possible to encourage a conversation about work+life flexibility that benefits everyone … and gets us one step closer to nirvana.

What do you think makes managers and employees more comfortable talking about how to manage life and the complex realities of work in a difficult economic reality?

Click here to check out other posts on my FastCompany blog and here to follow me on Twitter @caliyost

How Employers Can Love (or Stop Hating) Maternity Leaves

Posted by - . 3

Last week, The New York Times included a quote from me in a great article, “Taking a Positive Approach to an Employee’s Maternity Leave.” Because this is an important topic that many employers struggle with, here are a couple of the key points from the article I wanted to highlight and expand upon:

Of all of the inevitable work+life realities a workforce will experience, maternity should be the least feared.   Unlike illness, accidents, eldercare or spouse relocation, you can plan for it in advance.

Every small business owner should take note of how effectively and proactively the leaders in the article addressed the work+life issues of their employees.  Unfortunately, this is still unusual.  From my experience, most employers refuse to acknowledge and build into their day-to-day operating model contingencies for dealing with the intersections between work and other parts of life even though they are inevitable.  Everyone has a personal life.  Everyone.  Not just women who become mothers.

I’m always baffled by the panic of these same in-denial business owners every time someone becomes pregnant, takes care of a sick parent, has a heart attack, or stays home because of their child’s snow day.  By facing the reality that work+life conflict is a business issue, they’d create a culture that encouraged an open, ongoing, problem-solving dialogue about how to flexibly manage and adapt.  Everything would run so much more smoothly.

Whereas eldercare, illness, accidents, swine flu and snowstorms are usually unexpected, in most cases maternity gives you months to plan!  As the article shows, companies benefit from an open dialogue even if a new mother decides not to come back to work or returns on a part-time basis.  And it’s important to note that new mothers aren’t the only ones who may choose not to come back to work or who would be helped by a phased return after a work+life challenge.  People with elder care responsibilities, a long illness or accident can also benefit.

Prepare employees with the skills and tools to create a solution-oriented plan.

The article does a good job emphasizing the need for employees to start the conversation by thinking through an initial solution (for a contrasting example of what can go very wrong when an owner/manager tries to figure out the right answer for a pregnant employee, click here).

But knowing how to create and present a well thought out plan is a skill set.  Most employees need to be shown “how.”

A step-by-step process for developing a win-win flexibility plan is outlined in my book “Work+Life: Finding the Fit That’s Right for You” and is a great place to start (excerpted in the Work+Life Fit in 5 Days blog series).  In fact one of the reasons I wrote the book five years ago was to give small business owners a resource to help their employees create win-win flexible work+life fit solutions.

A one-size-fits-all, across-the-board “policy” related to how maternity or any other work+life reality will be addressed doesn’t work.  BUT, it is a good idea to have a consistent process in place to which everyone has equal access.

This consistent process should outline the unique circumstances of an individual employee’s job and life that they should consider to determine the solution that will work for them personally and for the business.  Even though the outcomes will vary, a clear process maintains consistency by virtue of the fact that everyone had access to the same approach and parameters.   Again, check out the work+life fit process in my book to get started.

What do you think?  How do we get more companies of all sizes to come out of denial and face the fact that work+life realities are just part of their day-to-day operating reality that they need to plan for?  And how do we get them to embrace an ongoing, process-based, solution-oriented flexible response?

Get Your Flex Plan a Fair Hearing and Prepare for ALL Outcomes

Posted by - . 1

When Sharlyn Lauby (a.k.a HRBartender.com) asked me to comment on “How to Handle Workplace Retaliation,” I presented my advice in the context of proposing a formal flex plan seeking to change how, when and/or where you work.  A very common concern that keeps people from asking for formal flexibility is the fear of manager retaliation.  This concern has grown since the start of the Recession.

You can go to the HRBartender post for more on workplace retaliation, but here are three ways to approach your formal flex plan to ensure it gets the most positive consideration and limits the chance of a negative reaction:

Step 1:  Make sure your formal flex plan clearly considers the needs of the business (MOST PEOPLE DON’T DO THIS-Go to “Work+Life Fit in 5 Days” to learn how).  The quickest way to lose credibility with your manager and support for your plan is to ignore the day-to-day objectives of your job and the state of the business within which you work.

Present your plan as a proposal intended to initiate a conversation.  That way you signal to your manager that you are open to his or her input and that your proposal isn’t set in stone.  This gives the manager wiggle room.  He or she doesn’t feel cornered which is especially important if you manager isn’t used to employees working flexibly.

Step 2:  In many situations, if you are a solid performer, the answer will be “yes” to some version of a well-thought out plan for flexibility; however…

Step 3: What if the answer is “no” to your flex proposal? It’s okay to ask respectfully “why?” in order to determine if there’s a way to address the manager’s concerns.  Perhaps a 60-day trial period would help?

But what if the answer is still no?  You should prepare yourself in advance for what you will do if, even after your best effort to present a win-win plan, the outcome is not positive.   Sadly, it happens. Most importantly, make sure you don’t let that disappointment affect your performance on the job.

Sometimes what is seen by the employee as retaliation on the part of the manager for presenting a proposal is really a valid response to a decline in job performance after hearing “no.”   Go into the negotiation prepared to keep performing no matter what the outcome because your manager will be watching.

Especially if you are a solid, valued performer, your manager will know on some level that he or she should have found some way to make your well thoughtout plan work at least for a trial period.  As much as you may want to, don’t bad mouth your manager to colleagues.   There is a good possibility that he or she may come around with time and decide to give your plan a try; however, you don’t want to give them an excuse to question your commitment.

Even if you decide to look for another job that will give you more flexibility, don’t burn bridges with your manager.  You will want their recommendation.

While there is never a guarantee you will hear “yes,” when you present a formal flex plan, there are steps you can take to ensure you get the most positive consideration.  And, in case the answer is “no,” remain on good terms with your manager.  Whether or not you decide to look for more flexible alternative employment, it pays to stay friends.

Three Reasons Why It’s Work+Life “Fit” (Not, Balance)

Posted by - . 4

(This is the first post I wrote for MomsRising’s Peaceful Revolution.  It appeared last week in The Huffington Post)

The economy continues to teeter between Recession and recovery, and we are being asked to do more with less both at work and in the rest of our lives.  As a result, the challenge of how to manage it all remains front and center for many, including mothers.

In our quest for big answers, sometimes we forget that simply reframing how we think about, talk about, and approach an issue can make a big difference.  Try this…instead of enduring the ongoing daily frustration of never achieving “work/life balance,” focus on optimizing your unique “work+life fit.” Here are three reasons why the shift from “balance” to “fit” makes a difference in your well-being:

Reason #1:   There’s no “right” answer, only what works for you and your unique work and personal realities at any given day or period of your life.  No one is right, therefore, no one is wrong.  By removing the judgment from ourselves and on others, we automatically relieve at least some of the guilt that can paralyze us from taking action.

So next time you arrive home with a pizza for dinner after staying late for the third night in a row finishing a project and see your neighbor cooking through kitchen window, what are you going to think?  “Next week when the project is finished I’ll make a point of having a home cooked meal.”  It’s not, “I must be a terrible mother.” That’s your work+life fit.

Reason #2:  It’s an action verb; not a destination noun. If you focus on a predetermined outcome or “balance” to gauge success, you will often be disappointed because many of the factors that influence whether you reach that goal are out of your control.  But if you consciously optimize the way those same circumstances “fit” together on and off the job, then your focus turns to how you feel about the process regardless of the outcome.  You can control the action (see #3).

For example, you’re disappointed that you had to ask your sister to take your mother to her chemotherapy appointment because you had to work, but you’ve arranged to help her grocery shop and pay bills on your day off.  If your predetermined “balance,” was to take your mother to chemotherapy, then you will feel frustrated.  But, instead, you adapted and found a way to be supportive given the current circumstances.  You took action you could feel good about.

Reason #3: It’s strategic, not reactive. As the previous example shows, many of the factors that determine “balance” are out of your control; therefore, it’s easy to become reactive, constantly responding (perhaps not very effectively) to what’s coming at you.  But if you expect that optimizing your work+life “fit” is an ongoing, ever-changing process, then you will be more strategic and nimble in your response.  You will plan accordingly.

For example, when you realized in advance that your work schedule conflicted with your mother’s chemotherapy, you devised an alternative solution.

If you look at the definition of “strategic” in the dictionary, you find, “(related to) a careful plan or method; the art of devising or employing plans or stratagems toward a goal.”  Your goal is to influence, account for, and anticipate how to best “fit” work and the rest of your life together at any point in time.  Sounds logical, right?  Guess what, we don’t do it.  Here’s my proof…

For years, people would swear, “But, Cali, I do manage everything, and I’m still overwhelmed.”  So I began giving a little quiz before each of my speeches.  Here are the typical results from group of employees at a Fortune 500 consumer products company:

78% said that they “Actively manage my work and personal responsibilities and goals daily or weekly.”

43% said that they “Always keep a calendar with all of my personal and work responsibilities and goals in one place.”

32% said that they “Set aside time daily or weekly to check in with myself and answer the question, “What do I want?”

Strategic work+life fit means keeping all of your work and personal “to dos” in one central location so you have a complete picture of what is happening in all areas of your life (why it’s work “+” life).  You need to set time aside at least weekly to check in with yourself to make sure you are where you want to be with your “fit” given your most current set of circumstances.  And then change as many realities as you can to close any gap between what you want and where you are, knowing there is no right answer.  Only what works for you.

Your unique work+life “fit.”  No right answer, only strategic, judgment-free action.

Fast Company: Don’t Let “Flex Just Doesn’t Work for Me”= “I Don’t Care If You Leave” Because It Will

Posted by - . 3

Three times in the past couple of weeks I’ve heard a variation of the same story that should serve as a cautionary tale for all managers:

  • You have a highly valued, competent current or prospective employee who has used flexibility in the past to manage his or her work+life fit in a way that considers their needs as well as the needs of their job. They have a track record of success.
  • Said employee presents a well-thought out proposal for flexibility. They’ve covered all angles. Of the three scenarios mentioned above, one person wanted to reduce his schedule to deal with an ongoing health challenge more aggressively, with the goal of going back to full-time after he recovers.  Another individual had been promoted, and returned to a full-time role; however, she wanted the flexibility to work from home periodically.  And finally, the third person was being considered by a venture capital firm to be CEO of a company.  He wanted to telecommute two days a week as he was doing with his current job.
  • In all three cases, the response was, “No.” The initial reason given was, “I need you here.”  Then each employee respectfully asked if there were any business concerns that made the plan unworkable.  None of the decision-makers could cite a business-based rationale for their answer.  All they said was, “It just doesn’t work for me.”

Okay, let’s stop here for a minute. I have seen this same scenario play out over the years more times than I can count.  To these managers, their logic makes complete sense (at least at the moment):  If I just say, “it doesn’t work for me,” then everything will go back to the way it was.  Everyone will forget about any flexibility.  I don’t want change.  I like things exactly the way they are right now.  It works for me as it is.

In fact, in an alternate universe, these managers are often giving a compliment.  They are essentially telling the employee that he or she is too valuable, therefore, they  want them around and available.  They think saying “No,” will make their preferred status quo a reality.

Unfortunately, that’s usually not what happens.  Note to managers: just because you will it, doesn’t make it so.  Fair warning, you will lose.
What should managers and individual employees do? (Click here for more)

Social Media Guru, Gary Vaynerchuk–Work+Life “Fit” Intuitive In Action

Posted by - . 0

Full disclosure…I am a major Gary Vaynerchuk fan.  I’ve read (and highly recommend) his book Crush It!. I think he’s a prophet when describing the impact of social media on business.  I consistently learn from his video blog and Wine Library TV, and even had a chance to see him speak in person (again, highly recommended).

So imagine my excitement yesterday morning when I see that Gary has posted a video, “Work/Work Balance.” (below).  After watching the clip, I realize that, even though he doesn’t know it (because he uses the b-word and focuses on work/work even though he does mention other parts of his life), Gary Vaynerchuk is a work+life fit intuitive in action!

First, what’s a work+life fit intuitive? It’s someone for whom flexibly managing his or her work+life fit day-to-day and at major work and personal transitions is second nature.  The funny thing is that they have no idea how unusual they are, and they often assume everyone else is the same way.  Over the past 15 years working with tens of thousands of people, I’ve estimated that about 10-15% of the population falls into this category…and one of them is Gary Vaynerchuk!

Second, what’s he doing? In the video he explains that he will be resetting or readjusting how he is going to work, what work he is going to focus on, and how he is going to build more time for exercise and his family into his “fit” (although he calls it balance).  Watch the video and you will see he follows the main the steps found in my book and highlighted in the “Work+Life Fit in 5 Days” series from earlier this year:

He recognizes that his work and personal realities have changed.  Over the past three years, Gary has put his heart and soul into expanding his Wine Library TV brand and into helping others leverage their brands using social media.  He prides himself on walking his talk of customer service and interactivity, which was fine until the demands on his time began to grow beyond his capacity to continue to perform the way he wanted to.  Add to this the fact that he became a father for the first time last year.  And, as he has publicly stated, family is very important to him.  Three years ago, his work and personal realities were different.  That “fit” no longer works, so he’s making a change that’s a win-win for him and his business.

He is creating a new, clear vision of what he wants his new work+life fit to look like and how we will flexibly manage it. If you listen to the video, he describes the work he is going to let go of (mostly travel for speeches), and he talks about how he is going to perhaps create public Q&A sessions so he can stay in direct touch with people in a more efficient way.  He interjects that he’s going to find more time for the basketball court and being with his family, although there’s still A LOT of work in his work+life fit.  He’s answered the smallest, hardest question: What do I want?

He challenges his fears. Even Gary Vaynerchuk encounters the fear roadblock as he gets ready to reset his work+life fit.  We all do!  But he challenges it. His fear is that if he isn’t as generous with his time–spending hours in the store one on one with people or going out to dinner every time someone asks–people will think he sold out and is no longer authentic.  But he challenges it in part with the video and by explaining what he is doing and why.  Plus, his is brainstorming other ways to keep that connectivity without the level of time commitment.

He is redefining success to match his new work+life fit. For the past few years, his definition of success was sharing what he knows (either about wine or social media) and trying to help others understand how it could help them.   But now he’s feeling like he needs to stop and “execute” for awhile.  Learn, read, and know more.  From that doing and learning work, he will ultimately be more valuable and more helpful.  That’s his new definition of success, and it matches the change he’s putting into place.

Gary, good luck!  And add “work+life fit intuitive” to your list of your accomplishments.

Did Gary Vaynerchuk’s work+life fit reset inspire you?  I know it’s reaffirmed the decision I made a couple of months ago to reset my work+life fit to finish two big writing projects I’ve been trying to complete for the past year.  I’m pleased to report that one writing project is down, and I have one to go!

Fast Company: Post-White House Forum: Where Does Flexibility Go From Here…

Posted by - . 1

There’s no doubt in my mind that the universe has a sense of humor.  A couple of months ago, I solemnly swore that I would 100% disconnect from work when we went on vacation during my children’s Spring Break.  No email (if at all possible), no twitter, no blogging—nothing but focused time with my family.

Then, as if to test the limits of my resolve, The White House Forum on Workplace Flexibility was scheduled smack dab in the middle of my vacation last week!   Let’s just say that last Wednesday, it was all I could do not to sneak a glimpse at the live feed on The White House website.  But I resisted and am now catching up on all that transpired at this remarkable event.

I’ve read the Council of Economic Advisers “Work-Life Balance and the Economics of Workplace Flexibility” report as well as a number of blog posts about the forum written by participants, many of whom are colleagues I greatly admire.  Here are links to some of my favorites:

My takeaways are as follows…

Thank you to the First Family and The White House for an important symbolic boost for flexibility. I agree with Wharton’s Stew Friedman when he says this is a, “Symbolic moment that signified, at last, a new era in which we are really talking and thinking differently about work and the relationship with the rest of our lives.”  Symbolism is a powerful driver of any broad change initiative.  And it spoke volumes to have the leader of the free world stand up, with his professional wife, in The White House and say, “this is important.”

Job well done, my esteemed work+life industry colleagues.  Job well done. Unless you’ve been in the work+life field from more than a decade, and had an opportunity to meet and talk with some of the pioneers who started this movement from scratch, you might not appreciate what a full circle moment this event was for many of the participants in the Forum.  Trust me, none of them would have imagined that someday they would be at The White House.  But everyday, day-in-and-day-out they forged ahead.  Let me take this opportunity to applaud them all and to acknowledge how very much they all deserve this victory.

Now, where do we go from here with flexibility? No doubt the White House Forum on Workplace Flexibility was a mountain top moment that deserves one more, “Hooray!” and a little victory dance.  But everyone will agree that there’s still a great deal of work to do before flexibility in how, when and where work is done and life is managed is an integral part of every business’ operating model, and every employee’s day-to-day reality. Here are some next steps that I’d like to see: (Click here for more)

Bookmark It! “Work+Life Fit in 5 Days” Series Wrap-up (Video)

Posted by - . 8

Thank you for joining me for the “Work+Life Fit in 5 Days” Series!

Giving real people, with real jobs and real lives the proven “how-to” basics to flexibly manage your work+life fit day-to-day and at major personal and career transitions.  But that’s not all…

In the new work+life flex normal, knowing how to strategically and flexibly manage your work+life fit is a skill set we must have.  We need know how to partner with our employers to create work+life fit solutions that consider our needs as well as the needs of the business.  And understand how to flexibly adjust our work+life fit not only when our personal realities alter, but when business circumstances change.

Yes, employers must create the space where mutually-beneficial flexibility can be discussed and thrive.  But we need to know how meet them halfway, even if all of them aren’t joining us at the table… yet!

Bookmark this page and come back to it as needed! Flexibly and strategically managing your work+life fit is an ongoing, everyday process.  The “Work+Life Fit in 5 Days” series is here to support you.

Entire “Work+Life Fit in 5 Days” Series:

Day 1: What is Work+Life Fit? / Seeing the Possibilities (Fast Company)

Day 2: Challenge Roadblocks — Redefine Success:  Money and Prestige / Advancement and Caregiving (Fast Company)

Day 3: Challenge Roadblocks — Fear

Day 4: What Do You Want? / Your Internal Guidance and My Story (Fast Company)

Day 5: Creating Your Work+Life Fit Plan–Making It a Win-Win

Want more?

(Day 5) Creating Your Work+Life Fit Plan—Making it a Win-Win

Posted by - . 4

Welcome to Day 5 of the “Work+Life Fit in 5 Days” Series!  It’s time to create a work+life fit plan that best meets your needs and the realities of your job, as they stand today.

Remember, this series not only helps you find your own work+life fit.  It’s equally as important if we want to create more flexible organizations.  That requires a partnership between employer and employee.  Yes, employers need to do their part to create the space where mutually-beneficial flexibility can be discussed and thrive (we need to do more in this area, but we’ve come a long way).  However, we must know how meet our employers halfway, even if they aren’t all joining us at the table… yet (see Fear roadblocks post).

How do you take the vision of what you want and then work through a process that matches that goal with the realities of our work and life? Today, Day 5, introduces you to highlights of that process.

After Days 1-4, You’re Ready and Aware

Before we get started, let’s look back at how the previous four days make it possible for you to create and implement a plan with the greatest likelihood of thriving.   Typically, individuals jump right to the “create a plan,” step.  But first you must have achieved a level of readiness and awareness which we covered in Days 1-4:

Day 1:  What is Work+Life Fit? (Why Does it Matter?) / Seeing the Possibilities

Day 2:  Challenging Work+Life Fit Roadblocks—Success: Money, Prestige, Advancement and Caregiving

Day 3:  Challenging Work+Life Fit Roadblocks—Fear

Day 4:  What Do You Want?  Creating Your Work+Life Fit Vision / Your Internal Guidance

You’re ready, you’re aware, and you have a glimmering idea of what you want, here are the highlights for creating a solid, well-thought out plan.  Like yesterday, we’re covering a lot of territory in the space of a blog post.  Therefore, I am sharing a number of excerpts from the book that will take you to the next level if interested.   Good stuff!

“How to” Roadmap: Making Your Vision a Reality

Excerpt from Work+Life: Finding the Fit That’s Right for You

“You’ve created your work+life vision—a vision full of imagination and possibility, and free of limitation. Now it’s time to change direction and make that vision a reality. This is where the dreaming ends and the steps to actualize your vision begin.

Your vision must be compatible with the current realities of your work and personal life if your final work+life fit is going to succeed.
This involves a “compare for compatibility” process whereby you compare your vision to each specific aspect of your work and personal life in order to identify and potential mismatches. The goal is to rectify and incompatibility before implementing your work+life fit, thus reducing the chance of being derailed later.

Resolving an incompatibility involves changing the reality of it at all possible, or if that’s not an option, adjusting your original vision. Depending on how far apart your vision and your realities are, all of the comparing and adjusting can transform your vision into a very different final work+life fit plan at the end of the roadmap. This may seem a bit disconcerting. You may wonder why you should exert the effort to create that vision in the first place if it’s only going to change. There are two very good reasons…” (Click here for more or to download or print PDF).

Six Most Common Changes Your Vision Will Involve

Making your work+life vision a reality will most likely involve changes in one or more of the following:

  • Why you are working
  • What type of work you do
  • Whom you work for/with
  • How you work
  • When you work
  • Where you work

CHANGE “WHY” YOU WORK

Excerpt from Work+Life Finding the Fit That’s Right for You

“Believe it or not, finding a better work+life fit can be as simple as reframing why you’re working. For some, the source of conflict is “Why am I doing this type of work or this particular job?” The good news is that you don’t necessarily need to leave your current situation to discover an enhanced sense of purpose. Jim’s Story…” (Click here for more or to download or print PDF).

I’ve written about job crafting and encore careers as two examples of changing the “why” or purpose behind the work you are doing.   It’s makes a difference.

CHANGE “WHAT” YOU DO

Excerpt from Work+Life Finding the Fit That’s Right for You

“ Perhaps your vision for a better work+life fit includes a different job or career altogether. This was my experience when I resolved my work/life conflict by transitioning from banking to work+life strategy consulting. It is also the experience of many of my clients. You can devote the same amount of time and energy to a job that you enjoy and a job you don’t. One will make you feel great, while the other will result in work/life conflict.”  (Click here for more or to download or print PDF).

Yup, sometimes you just don’t like what you are doing, and you need to do a different type of work altogether.  Here are some great online resources/books to help you change careers (please share any others you’ve found helpful):

CHANGE WHOM WORK FOR/WITH

Excerpt from Work+Life Finding the Fit That’s Right for You

“One of the key components of work/life satisfaction is a supportive work environment. To find it, you may have to work for a new company…The other two key components of your work environment are a supportive manager and coworkers…That said, it follows that either an unsupportive manager or an unsupportive coworker is enough to cause conflict. If this is your reality, your vision for a better work+life fit could involve changing whom you work with…Denise’s Story” (Click here for more or to download or print PDF)

But before you make the leap, double check how you might make some adjustments in your own behavior could make the situation better.  For more, read, “Lost heart with your current job? Don’t rush to escape” by Christine Livingston at A Different Kind of Work.

CREATE A WORK+LIFE FLEX PLAN—Change How, When and/or Where You Work

You create a work+life flex plan when your vision is to have greater flexibility in how, when and/or where you are working in order to find your “fit.”  Notice a couple of things that I didn’t say.  They don’t seem like a big deal, but matter:

  • I didn’t say you want to “telecommute,” “work part-time,” “have flextime.” My experience is that very few work+life flex plans neatly into the standard “flexible work arrangement” boxes.  What if you want to come in earlier and work from home every other Thursday?  Instead, think of what you are trying to do more broadly, which is to change how, when and/or where you work.  Again, creates possibilities.
  • I use the word “plan” and not “arrangement.” This is on purpose. Like a business plan, your work+life flex plan is an agreement that benefits both parties.  It’s a living, breathing understanding that should be reviewed regularly, adapted over time and may take a few rounds of negotiation to finalize.  Whereas, arrangement, as in flexible work arrangement, sounds like an accommodation that someone either does or does not bestow upon you as a favor.  This isn’t a “nice-to-have” perk.  It’s good business and it should be described that way.

The Compare-for-Compatibility Process: From Vision to Flex Plan

(Note:  Each of the realities in the compare-for compatibility process have a corresponding chapter in the book that walks you step-by-step through a plan development.  But overview information below gets you started.)

Couple of Key Points about a Well-Thought Out Work+Life Flex Plan

  • The final version of the plan that you discuss with your manager should include work realities ONLY—how you will get your job done. You analyze both your work and personal realities in order to create a complete picture of your work+life fit, so that you have all of your bases covered.   Try to avoid getting into the “why” behind your plan as much as possible, because it shouldn’t matter.
  • In the plan you present and discuss with your manager, lead with how this will benefit the business, because it will! Does having greater flexibility: Make you more productive (give a concrete number—save 2 hours commuting; not interrupted, therefore, can get reports done faster); provide more client coverage (shifting hours can provide before or after hours support);  save money (if reducing your schedule not paying you as much).
  • Try to think of all the possible “Yeah, buts…” your manager will have and try to address then upfront. Common ones:  How will I reach you?  How will I know you are working?  These are easy to address before they get in your way.
  • Make sure you can be flexible with your flexibility.  This is especially important for people with caregiving responsibilities. As you analyze your personal realities, make sure you give yourself a cushion that allows you to “go the extra mile,” occasionally.  In today’s workplace where the unexpected can pop up, we need to be able to lend a hand now and then.

Excerpt from Work+Life: Finding the Fit That’s Right for You

“Time to hit the Work+Life Fit Roadmap to begin making your vision a reality. When you change how, when, and/or where you work and devote it to your personal life. But there are certain realities in both your work life and personal life that influence whether or not these changes can be made. Addressing those realities is the focus for the next part of the roadmap. These critical realities are:

realitiesThink of the process as a production line that manufacturers the final work+life fit you will implement. Your original vision is the raw material that goes into the process, while the work and personal realities to your vision is compared along the line molds it into a final work+life fit that is viable and realistic.

Before we begin, here’s a quick overview of the ways in which changing how, when, and where you work can lead to a better work+life fit…Changing ‘How You Work… Changing “When” You Work…Changing “Where” You Work…Compare-for-Compatibility…” (Click here for more or to download or print PDF)

Congratulations!  You’ve finished the “Work+Life Fit in 5 Days” series.  I hope you feel better prepared to move forward to find a better fit–even a small change–in 2010!

This series offered you a preview of the “how-to” basics of managing your work+life fit as a partner with your employer.  Obviously, this is just the beginning, so if you want more please consider the following:

  • Buy the book in print or for Kindle at Amazon.com
  • Sign up to receive my blogs:  via email or via RSS feed in the upper right hand corner of the blog.
  • Follow me and the others dedicated to the topic on Twitter (@caliyost)

Entire “Work+Life Fit in 5 Days” Series:

Day 1: What is Work+Life Fit? / Seeing the Possibilities

Day 2:  Challenge Roadblocks — Redefine Success:  Money and Prestige / Advancement and Caregiving

Day 3:  Challenge Roadblocks — Fear

Day 4:  What Do You Want? / Your Internal Guidance and My Story

Day 5:  Creating Your Work+Life Fit Plan–Making It a Win-Win

Want more?

  • Order the book with the entire Work+Life Fit process: in print or on Kindle at www.Amazon.com
  • Sign up to receive a weekly email of blog post highlights and/or the RSS feed in the upper right corner of the blog
  • Follow me on Twitter @caliyost