Think about how you spend the majority of your time. Is it traveling, exploring a new hobby, or being with family? If you're like most people, the answer is working. We spend a huge percentage of our lives at work. There's been a lot of talk lately about work/life balance and work/life integration. For the most part, the strict boundaries that used to exist between our work and personal lives have blurred. But it needs to go further than that. If we spend more time working than doing anything else, then work really is life and life is work.
Thinking about it that way puts things into better perspective. This isn't just some job you are working, this is your life that you're building. You don't have time to be around people who bring you down or to work for a company you don't love because doing so means you are wasting precious time to build the life you want.
Making the mental switch to work as life can be difficult, but here are few things you can do to make sure your personal and professional goals are aligning:
- Look at how you spend your time. Are your hobbies the complete opposite of what you do for work? Ideally, you should be working at something you enjoy and that you would choose to do anyway. Consider what you choose to do when you have free time and see how that relates to your career path.
- Write down your personal and professional goals. Are your goals working together, or is it impossible to achieve your personal and professional goals? If your professional goal is to start your own business and a personal goal is to travel or try a new hobby, look for ways that they could work together. With work as life, there really shouldn't be a differentiation between personal and professional goals.
- Think of how you are treated at work. Do you feel empowered and appreciated when you go to work? This is more than just your career--this is your life. Don't waste time working for an organization where you don't enjoy going to work. Find a place where you are treated with respect, and be sure to treat others the way you want to be treated.
- Set long-term goals and aim high. It's easy to fall into the trap of following an everyday schedule and not thinking long term. But settling into an easy routine can mean that in a few years you'll wonder where all the time went. Don't be afraid to set lofty goals for yourself, both personally and professionally, and then take the steps to get there. If the path you're currently on isn't getting you to those goals, re-think what you're doing.
- Consider your values. Because work and life are so intertwined, you want to work for an organization that has the same values you do. Some people say they can handle working for an organization they don't believe in for a few years just to get experience, but don't fall into that trap. Take the time to find a place that aligns with what you believe in--it will pay off in the long run.
If you look at work as just a place to get a paycheck, you're doing a disservice to yourself. It is nearly impossible to avoid work and life merging into one, so you might as well make the most of it and align your goals to create the life experience you want. This is your life--make the most of it.
Watch more on how work is life and life is work here.