how to make sure your life and career work together

Author of ‘Get The Job You Really Want’ shares her tips to get your life and career ambitions on track.

We give so much of ourselves at work, more than a third of our waking life. What if we could get up every workday, achieve great results and leave feeling energised, satisfied, and proud?

As a working mum of twin toddlers, running two businesses, volunteering, and recently writing my first book ‘Get the job you really want’, I understand how busy life can be. It’s easy to find yourself last in the queue, but by putting yourself first and taking time to align your life plans with your career plans, you may find yourself happier, healthier, and more content.

Achieving balance in your life and career starts by making a plan, a career plan.

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Rank your priorities

What is important to you in life? What are you looking for in a job and career that will align with what you would like in life? For example, if saving to buy a house is the most important goal for you right now, then earning well may be a key factor in your next job.

If you are spending too much time travelling and missing out on quality family time, then perhaps location is a high priority. Maybe status is important to you, or making a difference, or supporting the community or helping people? Decide what your top three priorities are and focus on those first.

Define your values

What are your core values? What are the principles that you hold dear? A great way to determine your values is to look to people you admire and note the qualities you like about them.

Maybe they have qualities that you would like to emulate in your own life. You can also think of a time when you stood up for something. Why did you stand up for that cause and how does that play into your value set? List your top five values into your career plan.

Engage your interests

Feeling engaged at work is easier if you are doing something that you love. Think about what you’re interested in and how you spend your spare time.

Are there jobs and careers that can incorporate these interests and help you to feel engaged and fulfilled at work?

Play to your strengths

Being good at your job is satisfying and half the battle is ensuring that you are working in a job that utilises your strengths. Have a think about what you are good at and what your natural abilities are.

Are there jobs and careers that can utilise your strengths well? Also think about what you have achieved in your life and career to date. These achievements will be valuable to the right employer, so note them down and save them for later.

Visualise your life and career in five years’ time

What does it look and feel like? Who are you and what are you doing for work? Set a ‘career vision’ for yourself. Perhaps your career vision is one that gives you balance and flexibility in your job, or maybe it takes you towards a particular level of earnings or gives you meaningful work opportunities.

Decide what is important to you and set a career vision to work towards.

Set some S.M.A.R.T. Goals

Use a formula like George T Doran’s S.M.A.R.T goal acronym. S.M.A.R.T. stands for Specific, Measurable, Assignable, Realistic and Time-based.

For example, you might say ‘I’d like to be a market leading expert in UX Design within the next five years. You can set one major goal, plus several micro goals that help you to achieve particular skills or objectives.

Build a career plan

Build your priorities, values, interests, strengths, and achievements, plus your career goals into a career plan. You can also work with a career practitioner to explore your options further. Keep your plan updated as your life plans and career ambitions change.

If you would like to access a free career plan template visit people2people.com.au.

Take stock

Assess your current employer or potential employers for their alignment with your life plans, goals and what’s important to you. Look at values alignment, culture, benefits, career progression, training and development, flexibility, work / life balance, location, environment, performance, and meaningful work opportunities.

Do they offer challenge, opportunity to help others, give back, support your community, or improve environmental sustainability? Will you feel fulfilled, supported, and enriched by working there? You can run any self-employment opportunities through the same lens.

Set goals in your job

Once you feel that you are in the right job, with the right values alignment, you can set specific goals that help you develop and progress within your career, in alignment with your life plans. Ask yourself:

  • What would I like to achieve in this position in the next 12 months? Or the next five years?
  • What action do I need to take to make that happen?
  • What support, training or resources do I need from my manager, organisation, or externally to get there?

If your career goals, values, and life plans are aligned with your employer’s, your job, and your career, then you are more likely to enjoy your work, feel balanced, happier, and thrive.

Erin Devlin is the Author of ‘Get the job you really want’ released by Major Street Publishing in 2021. Erin is the 2017 RCSA SEEK Professional Recruiter of the Year, Managing Director of people2people Recruitment Victoria, CEO of Infront Sports Consulting and a regular media guest and speaker on careers and employment. Her book ‘Get the job you really want’ is available here.