12 Keys to create balance in your engineering career (part 2)

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In my last article I gave you 5 keys to create balance in your engineering career. The first keys are to list your values, to determine your priorities for success, to manage your time well, to simplify your life and to celebrate. In this article I am giving you 7 more valuable keys to create balance.

6)Keep in mind the “tides”. Being in balance doesn’t mean that you’re walking in a straight line all the time and you don’t fall off to one side. Sometimes you’ll be swamped with work, other times you’ll have a lot to do at home (eg. take care of a sick child or move to a new house). Check out the short video below.

Just like Dean Potter, you won’t always be in balance. Watch how he sometimes swings to one side and then to the other. As long as you are conscious of where you are now and where you’re going, you’ll get to the other side. Eventually the tide will come in again. Chances for you to fall to one side are small if you stick to your values.

“There is no such thing as work-life balance. Everything worth fighting for unbalances your life.”
― Alain de Botton

7) Communicate with your colleagues and your manager about the progress of tasks, goals and expectations. When you know what your values and your priorities are, you know what is important is to you. Keep the “one task in, one task out” principle in mind. If you get an extra task to do, agree to take one task out or to at least to postpone that one.

Sometimes, the distractions are too much at the office. Ask your manager if you could work somewhere else for half a day or so you can finally get on with your deadline. Some managers may be reluctant to allow you work from home as they are afraid you’re going to watch Netflix, take a walk or do something else other than work. These are actually called voluntary distractions. This is different than the involuntary distractions we actually want to get away from: your manager/colleagues interrupting you and…meetings.

8) Use your character strengths. Especially when you’re aware of the “tides” in your life. Your character strengths are your core qualities like creativity, curious or leadership. They will cost you little or no energy since you have them since birth. Note that character strengths are different from skills which can be learned. Your character strengths help you be “in flow” and make you feel more energetic. Here and now, wherever the “tide” is.

9) Take care of yourself. Do things that will give you energy. I call this “recharging” and this can be anything varying from sports, to be among friends, doing a task you can do well, meditating, reading a book or being in nature. What helps me is to do a powernap or do my favorite hobby (geocaching).

10) It’s an on-going process. Like Dean Potter, if you continue, you’ll reach the other side of the crevasse. On the way, you may learn new skills, get new tasks, loose some more and meet new people. At one point, you won’t accept that things (no longer) work for you and you’ll improve on the way. It’s about the journey. Be aware of this.

11) Be grateful. This is one of the most important keys as gratitude will help you to get grounded and in the moment. Especially in times of stress, write down 3 things you’re grateful for. It will put things into perspective and it will remind you of your values in work and life. Your values are in fact your compass, your beacon.

12) Create your legacy. When you know what you want in life, what your values are, what your character strengths are and what your goals are, then you’ll know what to do. You then show leadership and can become a role model for others in the things you do and how you do them. Again, it comes down to making choices and your willingness to accept the consequences of your choices as every action in life has a reaction.

“If you truly love who you are, travel through this life with conviction, spread joy to others, embrace changes as they happen, then you will find balance in your life.”
― Annie Morecambe

All the 12 keys are an incentive to you to take an action to create more balance in your -engineering- life. This will then help you to live a more effective, purposeful and joyful life.

Which key is it going to be for you now? Do you have other keys to create balance in your engineering career? Let me know in the comment box below. I am looking forward reading from you!

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