Let’s say, you can’t really complain.
Let’s imagine the usual list of things that are supposed to make you feel professionally accomplished and fulfilled is a column of ticks. Done that. Got that. Seen that. Etcetera…
Maybe you’re respected by your colleagues. Maybe you’re the go-to person for your manager whenever there’s an exciting (or challenging!) assignment to allocate. Maybe you’re earning a great salary. And maybe, the boss has begun personally asking you for your input on key matters regarding the future of the organisation…
You’re living the professional dream, in the heart of the promised land, right?
Surely, there’s no excuse for that… uncomfortable, (stressed-out), anxious, (restless) feeling that you’ve been struggling with… despite the external signs of your career success?
It’s okay: we can be honest with each other.
Because the truth is… while you’ve been making great progress along the road to career highs, your personal life has been in freefall.
You’re too burned out.
You’ve forgotten what it’s like to hang out with a buddy or girlfriend and laugh about things that have nothing to do with your work.
You haven’t giggled with your kids for weeks.
You can’t remember the last time you and your partner went out on a date.
And that gym or Zumba membership card…? It’s still in that perfectly organised sports bag you strategically placed by the front door.
In short, you HAVE no life, outside of your work. And while professional success has been rewarding… it really would be nice to take a break and smell the roses, once in a while.
I agree. So here are four steps with which to ensure you achieve success without bidding farewell to your personal life.
1. Define YOUR unique vision
You know what happens when you’re riding a career high, sometimes? You get sloppy with your career priorities.
You start saying ‘yes’ to things you have no business doing, just because you can, or because you’re known for doing, or because you feel obligated to the person making the request.
Don’t do this. Get really clear about what YOU want, and what YOUR goals are for your career, and stick to them.
Otherwise, you’ll be trapped in what I call ‘request creep’… which is where OTHER people’s needs, creep onto your priority list.
Keep that up and, soon enough, you’re working your way through everybody else’s priorities, except your own – including your own need for a personal life and downtime away from work.
2. Decide what success means to YOU – and stick to it
This is another common problem with successful young professionals. If you’re not clear about what you consider to be a successful life – you’ll soon find yourself chasing other people’s definitions. Which is fine for them (if THEY happen to have career clarity, that is) but may be TOTALLY unsuitable for you.
It’s important – actually, it’s absolutely ESSENTIAL – that you have a picture of professional accomplishment that is based on your strengths, gifts and unique talents – and not anyone else’s.
Which is why it can be SO important to figure out the keywords, unique milestones and an appropriate timeline to the career success journey you were put on earth to experience.
And if you feel you don’t have the detachment to do this for yourself, get a mentor you trust to guide you through this process. Because when you’re going through the woods, it’s a good idea to make sure you have a compass and a reliable map.
3. Establish your boundaries – and stick to them
Healthy boundaries. Some of us have them from birth, and others of us have to acquire them. If you’re one of these people who, out of misplaced loyalty or courtesy are always the go-to person whenever there’s emergency, or extra work, or a problem no one else seems to know how (or want) to tackle… if yours is the shoulder people ‘cry’ on, or you’re known for providing a patient, listening ear to whoever needs to rant or complain about their issues…
Don’t feel bad. You’re not alone, and it’s probably because you’re a good-hearted, sincere, conscientious and generous person.
Now, I’m not saying stop expressing such traits. Because for one thing, these characteristics are positive, and for another thing, I may as well tell you to change your height or eye colour.
But understand that it’s not your job to intervene in or undertake responsibilities that are other people’s to carry out.
And you’re not ultimately doing them a kindness by accepting to do so. Also, just as you have identified limits to other people’s ability to support or help you, it is only right that you enjoy the same freedom.
4. Identify your priorities (to safeguard that most precious resource – time)
After your own and your loved ones’ health and wellbeing, there is no other more precious resource than your time. YOUR time. And the best way to guard your time is identifying your priorities in life.
So, take the time to write down the THREE most important professional milestones that you wish to achieve in the next 12 months. That’s three. Not two, not four, not 12. For now, keep it to three.
Then write down what it would feel like to have hit those milestones. And finally, what it would feel like to fail in achieving those milestones.
Get clear on what the three most important career goals for you are, raise the level of necessity in terms of achieving them and turn away anything that interferes with the focus on such achievement.
If you can do this (and you’d be surprised how other people’s ‘emergencies’ turn out not to be emergencies…) you’ll discover how much better it will be to organise your time so you stop being the victim of career success.
Best of all, devoting your time to only what you consider to be priorities, means you’ll align the personal with the professional to a deeper and more satisfying degree.
To work with me one-on-one to take your professional and personal performance to new levels, please check out the LIMITLESS track of services at my website, www.leonidasalexandrou.com