The natural progression of human life looks something like this: First, you’re born into this world. You spend the majority of your formative years learning and preparing for getting a j-o-b. You then land a job and continue to work throughout most of your life. Finally, if you’re lucky, you retire and live out the rest of your days in peace and happiness.
That’s my 10,000-foot view on working life. Of course, there are many other wonderful events that occur during that time, but at a high level, this cycle is true for the majority of us … or at least it has been since the Industrial Revolution.
Now, enter the notion of work-life balance and the concept of lifestyle careers. We’ve all heard of work-life balance. To some degree, whether we actively pursue it or not, we all set out to achieve some variation of this end goal: to have our desired lifestyle meld with the career of our choice. For most people, lifestyle goes beyond a simple balance of work and life outside of your career — your lifestyle encompasses your economic level, morals, tastes, habits, and attitude.
(Photo Credit: Jon Flobrant/Unsplash)
Confused yet? Fear not — if you’re struggling to define your lifestyle career, here are some considerations to ponder.
Set Your Goals! Whether you’re just setting out to land that first job or you’re mid-career, you need to understand what it is that you want out of life. I cannot tell you — this is a question that only you can answer. That said, here are some of the guiding questions I’ve posed as a mentor: Do you want a family? If the answer is yes, consider careers that will offer you greater flexibility. With the expansion of the healthcare field, there is great demand for quality employees. Just as with all things commerce, supply and demand are a powerful combination, and employers are willing to be flexible in order to maintain great employees. Do you cringe at the notion of stress? We all have an inherent tolerance level for stress — how much can you handle before it becomes too much?
How Much Is Enough? If your goal is to rock a German luxury car that you can tuck away in the garage of your 15,000-square-foot mansion, you’re not likely to find your dream neighborhood filled with aides and assistants. Once you have identified your goals, do a bit of research so that you can understand what it will take to make those goals a reality. By no means am I suggesting that you should set your sights on a career solely for the salary it heralds, but rather identify what type of work makes you happy and then key in on roles that will suit your income needs. Are you interested in healthcare? There are many roles that may fit the bill, from nurses’ aides all the way to neurosurgeons. Love our legal system? You could work to become a police officer, lawyer, or judge.
Draw Your Map … on a Whiteboard. Don’t run out to the office supply store just yet — I’m illustrating the need for your plan to be adaptive. The chances that your lifestyle career can be had right out of school are very slim. Don’t believe me? Submit your resume to various director and C-suite positions. If you land one, I’d be interested in your story. The reality is that we must take steps toward our goals; this is precisely why they call it, “climbing the ladder.” Now, as far as the whiteboard is concerned, know that for many people, goals change. Aside from this, opportunities change. The technology of tomorrow may alter the direction visible today. Our economy can also do just this, so be ready to be flexible and don’t sulk if you need to re-design your map two, three, or even three dozen times. That’s the beauty of a lifestyle career: it’s adaptive to you.
Let’s face it: unless you were born with a silver spoon in your mouth, marry someone who was, or hit the lottery, most of us will work for the vast majority of our lives. The average American employee will spend somewhere over 90,000 hours working, so why not make it count? A lifestyle career goes beyond a simple work-life balance. If you’re working to find yours, try these tips to help begin that path today. As the great Abraham Lincoln once said, “In the end, it’s not the years in your life that count. It’s the life in your years.”
Michelle Kruse has more than 10 years of hiring and recruiting experience and a background in coaching and leadership development. At?ResumeEdge, Michelle recruits and hires résumé writers, provides training and ongoing support, manages strategic partnerships, and serves as a subject matter expert on the job search process.