There are perks and downsides to being part of a large company as well as working for yourself. For me, the flexibility and satisfaction that comes with a mission-focused entrepreneurship have vastly outweighed the corporate perks. But it didn't feel that way immediately; sure, I was loving my work and clients, but from a lifestyle perspective, it took time for me to unlearn the habits corporate America taught me and to fully embrace my authentic style.
For me, my style basically boils down to managing my energy (instead of time) so I can be efficient, present and grateful, as much as possible. Wondering what the heck this means? Read on for my top 5 tips to add flexibility to your lifestyle:
Take control of your mornings
- For so many days, even when I was intentionally "taking time off" in between my finance and coaching careers, I still seemed to jump out of bed, anxiously ready to go. I slowly learned to take control of my mornings, instead of letting them control me.
- I started to fully enjoy my coffee, presently walk the doggie, drink my smoothie and read a bit before I start getting ready for the day. And as I started adding clients, writing and other tasks to my daily agenda, I still embraced this routine by not scheduling clients before 10:30AM. It makes me better at my job.
Stop assuming your boss is watching you
- I always had this feeling in corporate America that someone was watching me. Like someone owned me and my time, no matter how great my work was. Skype and Slack, etc... don't help the whole "are you available" mentality but I remember the day I finally set my Lync status to "away" and said, "F-it." I'm going to the grocery store at 2PM. And it was totally fine (unless I had a control freak boss;)). It was mostly me putting too high of expectations on myself.
- Today, I set a policy with my clients that I will return emails within 1-2 business days, unless it's a Friday, I will answer by Monday. No one has EVER questioned my policy - people actually tell me how much they respect it. Know your limits, state them, and don't compromise them out of fear of ridicule or rejection.
Quality over quantity, set boundaries and be direct
- When it comes to working hours, many companies still value long hours over delivered value. I remember the 60 and sometimes even 80 hour work weeks, where it never ended. For my role, it became expected for a 5PM request to be completed by 8AM. Until... I started asking why, and didn't get good answers.
- I started to state my boundaries - when something takes 5 hours to complete, we would need more time to do it. Some bosses embraced it and understood that I was being completely reasonable, others did not.
- These days, I set expectations, even if no one asks for them. I communicate if something is going to be delivered later than expected, and people understand and accommodate. Because, after all, it's about quality and delivering value at the end of the day. AND, we're human.
- Everything does not have to be a damn fire-drill!!! I also have to add, I will never forget the day I read that @susanhyatt doesn't work on Fridays. It gave me permission to really get creative with my schedule, because, why not!? So I said, Monday and Friday is for administrative business tasks, writing, prepping for my week of clients and getting inspired.
Your job/company/title is not your personal identity, your WORK is
- I used to think that my job, company and title defined me, as a human. Who was I without Accenture on my resume? I know I'm not alone. I associated it with false confidence, ego, and how I related to others. I liked to be able to put people in boxes. It made relating to people easier, and in all honesty, it's human nature.
- But in reality, people don't belong in boxes. They should be empowered to feel free, creative, and autonomous. . You are not your job or company. You are the work you do. The difference you make. The impact you drive for others. That's how people view you at the end of the day, and at the end of your life. Did you make the world a better place in some way? Even if it feels small, it all counts. Try to focus a lot more on the work you're doing vs. the title you operate under; and if it doesn't feel good. Make a change.
Vacations are no longer about getting away from it all; they're about inspiration
- Back in my corporate days, I would NEED vacation in order to get away, from EVERYTHING. Because EVERYTHING felt so overwhelming and stressful all the time.
- Vacations are now about seeing something new, finding inspiration from new sources. As much as I love travel, I haven't traveled nearly as much as I used to. Small things inspire me now, like the changing of seasons, architecture in my neighborhood, etc... I found it really odd at first, because I thought something was wrong with me, I asked where the travel bug went, but it turns out, when you love what you do, and have flexibility to work when and wherever you please, it's easier to stay present and grateful for whatever is around you.
Thinking about making your work and lifestyle more flexible and satisfying? Let's talk.