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Published by: maysam200 on Nov 08, 2011
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If your job doesn’t allow much calendar and clock freedom, you might
find yourself fighting for every moment of free time you get. It helps
if you can clarify your needs (and your employer’sexpectations) soon
after you’re hired. Then, after you’ve agreed on a schedule, you won’t
have to justify your actions every time you leave at 5 p.m.or don’t
come in on the weekends. Even if you can’t get much schedule flexi-
bility, you can still set realistic limits to your workday. As Emerson
said: “If you can’t be free, be as free as you can.

Five Career Fantasies

Everyone dreams about what they would do if they didn’t have to
work. How many of these common career fantasies have you caught
yourself yearning for?

Hitting the Road

Jack Kerouac fantasies of hitting the open road. Getting behind the
wheel of a car—or better yet, an 18-wheeler—and being out in the
wild blue yonder, making your own plans, no one looking over your
shoulder, no office politics to worry about.

Taking a Big Risk

Living a life of adventure: racing cars, climbing mountains, fighting
fires, catching crooks.

Being More Creative

Writing, painting, acting, drawing. Taking some creative risks. Being a
creative person. Developing more creativity.

Tahiti, Inc.

Moving somewhere fun like a tropical island.

Make a Contribution

Doing something that’s not “just” about making money.

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Former FBI Director Louis Freeh had the good sense to negotiate some
free time into the terms of his employment agreement. Freeh at first
declined the $133,600-a-year job, citing disruption to his family life as
his primary concern. When his wife prevailed on him to reconsider, he
said he’d take the job under one condition: He promised to work dili-
gently for the FBI, but he also planned to reserve quality time for his
wife and two sons.

The White House agreed and the appointment moved forward. But it’s
unlikely that Bill Clinton anticipated just how seriously his FBI direc-
tor took his commitment to his family. Late one Friday, Freeh was
notified quite suddenly that he was expected at a Saturday-morning
White House meeting. Sorry, he replied. Unless it was a national emer-
gency, his Saturday morning was already booked. He’d promised his
sons that he’d attend their basketball game, and he intended to keep
his word.

Of course, you aren’t Louie Freeh. But you can learn an important les-
son from his modus operandi:

1.Be very clear about your needs and priorities.

2.Be very, very good at what you do.

3.Make sure your employer knows just how good you are.

4.Insist that your employer meet your needs.

Most people don’t change their lives all at once. It’s an incremental
process that takes constant self-evaluation, careful goal-setting, and
self-directed action. You must persist in the face of obstacles and crit-
icism. Succeeding in your new life requires clear thinking to under-
stand that reality isn’t always as idyllic as you might expect. But it’s
not an impossible dream. And it can be well worth the effort. Just the
other day, one of my more inspired life-changing clients (who took
early retirement to pursue other career goals) startled me with an
incredible statement: “I feel as if I’m living in the center of a chocolate
cake,” she laughed. “Everything around me is so sweet.”

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Work/Life Balance: Making a Life While Making a Living
Thought-Starter Worksheet

1.Do you wish that you had more time for yourself?

2.Where do the greatest demands on your time come from?

3.Can you enlist more support to help you meet your responsi-
bilities? From whom?

4.How good are you at setting limits?

5.What happens when you say “no”?

6.How good are you at asserting your own needs?

7.How can you improve your negotiating skills?

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8.Do you wish that you could work fewer hours?

9.Have you ever considered working part time?

10.How do you think your employer would feel about part-time

11.Do you worry that people will think you’re not serious about
your career?

12.Is there any precedent in your company for job-sharing?

13.Is there anyone you’d like to share a job with? Who?

14.Can you think of any benefits to your employer of a job-share

15.Would you like to work from home more?

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16.Do you have the kind of job responsibilities that lend them-
selves to home-based work arrangements?

17.Do you think your employer would object to your working from
home part-time? If so, why?

18.Can you experiment with alternative work schedules to deter-
mine how feasible they really are?

19.Do you ever fantasize about a whole new lifestyle? If so, what
does your dream life look like?

20.Have you ever lived in a small town? If not, what do you think
it would be like?

21.Do you know any urban refugees who moved from the city to
the country? If so, what has their experience been?

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22.Can you see any negatives to rural or small-town living?

23.Have you ever considered a sabbatical or an extended leave of

24.How do you think your employer would react to such a

25.How would you spend a year off?

26.What do you think would happen to your career if you took a
year off?

27.Would that scenario be so terrible?

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Having Fun at Work

Take risks and smile. Have some fun—it’s not against the rules.

—Hap Klopp,The Adventure of Leadership

So, off your duffs, couch potatoes. Pick up your camera. Tune up that instru-
ment. Sharpen those woodworking tools. Get out those quilting needles. Lose
yourself in the flow of active work and play.

—David Myers, The Pursuit of Happiness

Many people associate fun with the fri-

volity of youth or relegate their play-
time to their leisure activities. The
assumption is that laughter, fun, and play are immature, unadult, and
unprofessional when, in fact, humor and fun can help individuals cope
with stress, crisis, and change.

Before they wrote their book 301 Ways to Have Fun at Work(1997,
Berrett-Koehler), David Hemsath and Leslie Yerkes were already con-
vinced that fun at work was the single most important characteristic
of an effective and successful organization. They saw direct links
between fun-filled work and employee creativity, productivity, morale,
satisfaction, retention, customer service, and other critical factors that
determine business success. To prove their point, they conducted an
international survey to collect relevant real-life stories of what people
are doing to create fun workplaces.

But I didn’t need to read their book to appreciate their truths. In a so-
called “24/7” work environment where people are often stretched to
their emotional and physical limits, fun and the energy and enthusiasm
it creates are critical to both success and satisfaction.


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