Many people in the corporate world start off with the intention to only work the standard hours yet somewhere along the way, they become completely consumed by a never-ending To Do list. Suddenly they find themselves leading a life that is based on trying to survive rather than thrive. This constantly switched-on mode can start to wear thin very quickly and wear them down just as fast.
I have worked in the corporate world for over 22 years as a consultant for various large companies. I was soon spending so much time and effort in the workplace jumping through hoops and doing whatever it took to climb the corporate ladder that my personal well-being began to suffer greatly.
Each time I planned a well-deserved break, I found myself getting sick. My body soon stopped running on the adrenaline high of corporate life, and my immune systems began operating at critically low levels. Somewhere along the way I had lost my connection to the reason why I was working so hard.
Today I run a successful business that still requires dedication and commitment, but my physical, mental and emotional state is nowhere near where it as when I was in the corporate world. What I learn from this experience is that there is no point having a great job with matching salary if all you are able to do at the end of the day is collapse onto your couch.
So here are my four steps to reconnecting with what is important to you and designing a work schedule that works for you.
STEP 1: CHANGE THE WAY YOU THINK
Breaking your thought pattern is the first step towards designing your best work schedule. There is so much social pressure to be part of the rat race, and you should analyze whether succumbing to this thought pattern is working for you. Ask yourself these questions:
Are you willing to live on the edge?
Are you willing to substitute happiness for monetary gain?
Do you want to leave behind a legacy?
Do you want to travel and work from wherever you are in the world?
Your answers will form the basis of your blueprint of your ideal work life.
STEP 2: THINK LATERALLY
You have your own unique abilities. Learn how to make them work for you. If you are an accountant and you are crushed with deadlines at the end of each quarter, then plan your life in a way that allows you to work hard during those times and keep normal work hours for the remainder of the year.
The Internet has made traditional jobs much more flexible. If you are a teacher and do not want to be tied to a classroom then consider online teaching. A computer and an Internet connection is all you need. You can design your life around your workload so that you are only working the number of hours you want. Remember, this is your life and you call the shots.
STEP 3: SCHEDULE IN WHAT REALLY COUNTS
There was a time a couple of years ago when I did not schedule a break for 15 months and ended up severely ill. So before you schedule anything else into your calendar, make sure you schedule what really counts first. This includes events that will make a positive difference in your life such as:
Time for yourself to unwind, relax and recharge.
Vacation time. Long breaks should be a minimum of two weeks twice yearly and mini breaks such as weekends away should be scheduled every two months. Studies show that people are more likely to remain happy when they schedule in frequent short holidays than infrequent longer ones.
Family time and date nights.
Time with friends. Schedule the next catch up in before the night is over so that it does not get lost in the work life.
STEP 4: START SMALL AND SLOW
Start the ball rolling slowly so you can easily notice things gaining momentum as you make your schedule work for you. For instance, you could set a goal of winning 10 clients and turning away any extras because you know you do not want to dedicate more hours to work. Dedication to your personal wellbeing and who you are as a person instead is what will guide you towards creating a schedule that works for you rather than against you.