Balancing Life and your Career

Work life balance. Aside from whether to marry (and if so with whom), is there a more important component to the well lived life of a spiritually and morally committed person than one’s vocation? Our vocations and by extension our career choices will consume the lion share of our waking lives. So the selections we make matter.

Mention of the very non-PC qualifiers of morality and spirituality is deliberate. Many, not all, would hold they are a-priori components of a well-lived life and so bear mention.   A more in depth exploration of them is reserved for another time and place.

Rather, strategic selection of our vocation followed by the tactical decisions of our career choices is relevant to this article. Specifically the importance of a balanced approach when evaluating one’s’ options within the framework of a STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math) focused career.

The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly

As a career Technical Recruiter with 30 years’ experience working with tens of thousands of persons, ultimately placing close to 1,500 people into new full time roles, I have seen evidence of great decision making, extremely poor decision making and many ‘in-betweens’.  

What I have learned is we are more than ‘this or that’. Persons who make great decisions tend to take into account many factors. They are not easily distracted by one or two wow elements of a potential career choice. Rather they look closely at the tactical components of a potential career choice like: chemistry and cultural fit, job content and the positive or negative psychic compensation it is likely to generate, technology stacks and their relevance to market trends, money, location/commute, travel requirements and so forth. Then they incorporate the relevant components into the strategic view of their larger vocation with questions like: “Is this opportunity going to help me live a better life?” “If so, why?”

Companies tend to be somewhat self-aware. They know through common sense or plain experience with their workforce if they are great places to work or not. Companies with turnover problems typically struggle with problems in the area of balance. Too much management ego, micro-management, long work weeks and heavy travel are some of the more common ways people find their jobs out of balance. If the imbalances persist, they generally find their way to the exit door. To offset their deficiencies companies will often bolster another area, like salary, to distract attention.

A careful analysis of the total company and the opportunity profile will generally lead to better decision making, a more fulfilling career and a better life. Keep the big picture in mind and you’ll be well served.