“Work, work, work, work, work” – Rihanna.
Rihanna might be different from you and I. She is after all, a multimillionaire celebrity. But Rihanna, just like you and I, knows that hard work pays the bills (that’s what that song is about, right?). If you aren’t willing to work hard, you’ll never get anywhere in life. But at the same time, you cannot work yourself sick. Everything needs to achieve equilibrium, and be able to balance on one leg with your eyes closed in tree pose. So with that, this is Part 3 to our Becoming the Best You Series, in which I give you all the tips and tricks you need to become the very best version of yourself. Today, is all about work.
FINDING THE RIGHT FIT
When it comes to a balanced, happy work life, finding the right fit is absolutely essential. I’m going to go out on a limb and guess that you are not a one-trick pony, and that you likely have many different options for career paths and jobs that could hypothetically be a good fit for you. So why not get out there and explore what could be the best fit for you? You never want to settle for anything less than the best in life, whenever possible. You wouldn’t want your kids or your parents to have anything less than the best, would you? So why settle for anything less yourself?
If you are stuck in a rut…if you hate the thought of going to work…if you feel like it’s not personally meaningful or challenging or setting you on the path that you want to be…what are you doing? Taking a leap and changing paths can be a scary thought. But life is inherently scary. If you think there’s nothing better out there for yourself, you’re wrong. If you think your abilities are holding you back from having your dream job, you’re doubly wrong. In fact, it’s your mindset holding you back. Not your KSA’s.
When I worked full-time in the soccer world, I was making about five dollars per hour. I was taken advantage of. I was told I wasn’t good enough. I was devalued. I was verbally and physically abused. Yet, I had all of these positive things going for me. Kids loved working with me. I kept them in the sport year after year, wanting to return, wanting to play soccer, wanting to sleep next to a soccer ball because they were so excited to play. I LOVED being a major part of the development of athletes not just in a soccer sense, but in helping them become the individuals that they are, and will one day be. I had constant internal validation of why I was doing a good job from the cards players would make, the pictures they would draw, the kind words of parents, the gifts…the smiling faces! I also had external validation from the types of roles I was able to accomplish in such a short amount of time. I was the youngest ever person to be on the board of the district league in town. I was the youngest ever person to be in a Technical Leadership role at my club, if not all clubs in the region…ever. I also loved the more hardcore side of the sport – the pressure, the competition, the way the success of your group of players can be directly related to how well you do as a coach. It fueled me. It felt personally meaningful. And even more – I was entrenched in it – to the point that I still have ties to many of the people and things I thought I made the decision to leave behind already. To the point where my garage resembled a lonely run-down soccer store. It was my life. So I suppressed the fact that I wasn’t happy and that I was heading down a path that could lead me toward serious nothingness in my life.
I thought ‘If I just go to this other club or do this other role, things will be different.’ But it was the same everywhere I went – especially the financial side of it. Even a professional organization couldn’t pay me minimum wage for the amount of work I was doing. I wasn’t able to afford the cost of living, and I was told by one guy, who saw me coach one time over a video, that I wasn’t ready to achieve a license that would allow me to start the process of making more money in the sport. So I left. I left what I had built for eight years. And I have never been happier. Why? Because I’m now in a situation that is a better fit for me…in fact…the best possible fit for my current life right now.
Within minutes of starting my new job, I felt valued and respected. I immediately hit it off with my co-workers. I immediately bonded with the participants. I was challenged. I was asked to do tasks completely out of my normal realm of comfortability, and I loved every minute of it. I still love every minute of it. And if I hadn’t dated a girl from a city nearby for a month, I might never even have thought to apply for this job. It’s funny how life can work life that. But the point is – don’t settle for something that isn’t bringing the upmost value to your life – whether that be financial reasons, personal reasons, or a mix of American Horror Stories. Take my Canadian Horror Story turned Heroes’ Journey as an example of what could be possible, and never think that you don’t deserve something more, or that you can’t accomplish something more. It all comes down to mindset, and your willingness to make change happen in your life for the better.
Finding the perfect fit also isn’t just about the job itself. It’s about the people, the culture, the energy, the vibe. It’s about the organization – what they stand for, who they serve, how that contributes to the world in a way that’s meaningful to you. It’s about your happiness, your financial security, your competence and confidence in your role. It’s about so many things. So this is not an easy task. But going on this journey could be the most rewarding thing you ever do, if you do in fact find that perfect fit.
So now let’s talk about how to actually find the best fit for you. The first thing I want you to do is to write down the five things that you enjoy most in life. Seriously. Stop reading, grab a pen and write.
If you can’t think of five things that you enjoy, you need to add self-reflection into your daily routine. If you’re having trouble narrowing it down to just five, that’s a good thing. It likely means you’re versatile and capable of working in many different places and spaces. For now, you can exclude things that you don’t think you’d want to build a career out of. In other words, just because chocolate cake is one of your five favourite things in life, it doesn’t mean you need a burning cake desire to open up your own bakery or to work in the dessert section of a grocery store. Beyond that, if you’re STILL struggling to narrow it down (like I would be), ask yourself this impossibly difficult question – “If I could never have _ or _ in my life again, which one would I choose?”
Once you’ve done that, think about where in the world you want to live and where you want to work. If you’re open to anything, that’s amazing. But if you want to stay in your current city and keep your life relatively the same beyond this change of career, that’s also amazing. You just need to know that before you start looking, and before you start thinking about what jobs fit the billing for your five things. Once you’ve established that, literally go to organizational websites, go to Indeed, go to LinkedIn, and search for these things in not only job descriptions, but the search bars themselves. Let’s take my recent career change as an example…
For my personal path, those five things would be some version of helping people, personal development, writing, being physically active, and coaching/educating. I’m also open to working anywhere in Ontario…maybe even in Canada…so my job scope is not limited by location. So knowing that, you might instantly say that being a phys. ed teacher would be a great fit for my desires. You’re probably right. But I know that I want more than that in life. Nothing against teaching, but I want to change lives of not just individuals, but communities, groups…the world…(is that too ambitious?). Right now, I’m working at a community centre in a low-income neighbourhood, leading youth recreation programs, and trying to help inspire kids in this neighbourhood to live a better life. It’s amazing. I know that this isn’t the be all end all forever, and there will come a time where I look to progress forward in my career path and be in even more of a leadership role (leading is definitely my #6, just ahead of soccer). But I genuinely feel right now that it’s the perfect fit for me. It relates to aspects of coaching/educating, to helping people and to recreation – combining three of my five favourite things in life.
So beyond dating the girl from the city nearby, let’s talk about how I found the perfect fit for me and how I came to be in my current role. First, I searched for keywords and phrases that would directly apply to my interests. As cool as it would be if the words “helping people” turned up 50,000 job results nearby, there are better terms to use that will yield better results. When I was searching for my perfect fit, I scoured the internet for jobs relating to ‘Recreation’, ‘Sports’, ‘Community’, ‘Leadership’ and even ‘Writing’ – keeping my options open to all of my interests. I even created job alerts for these terms, set to be sent directly to my inbox on a weekly to biweekly basis. During this time, I also identified my ideal city to be in the middle ground of my old city – London, and the place to be in Ontario – Toronto. So I searched specifically in about five cities within that scope, upped my resume and cover letter game, and eventually, after over a hundred job applications, found the perfect fit for me. You might be saying to me right now – “Rhys. That’s a lot of freaking work.” Well, your happiness is worth any amount of work…freaking work even. So go through the steps of identifying what it is that you want, putting yourself out there, and then taking the leap.
You need to understand that when applying for jobs, the market is crazy. You need to put your best foot forward with anything you can use as leverage. I’m talking your cover letter, your resume, your physical appearance, your hygiene, your networking, your everything. Reach out to knowledgeable others already in the industry. Ask them what it takes to land that dream job. Maybe you’ll even gain a crucial connection or a job offer along the way. Little things like this can matter a lot in today’s market. Give yourself that leverage and expand your horizons by applying for as many jobs as possible. Go through the experience of applying, writing cover letters, and interviewing. Gain as much experience and exposure to it as you can. You’ll start to develop a rhythm for how to answer questions, for what stories you want to tell, for how to sell yourself, and even for how to reframe yourself as the prize. You likely won’t even hear back from 50% of the places you apply for. Don’t let that discourage you. It’s always worth applying for that small chance that you do hear back, that your interview goes great, and that you land your dream job. Shoot for the freaking stars and you might shine brighter than all of them.
Then when you conduct interviews with organizations, actively scope out whether or not they are a good fit for you. Don’t just sit there thinking “Am I a good fit for them? Am I saying the right things?” No. You are the prize. You are the one in control. You need to figure out whether or not they are a good fit for you. And don’t get me wrong – whether or not they like you will be a big part of your happiness at work. So you still want to ensure the feelings are mutual. But this is ultimately about you finding the best fit for you. So you don’t have to take the first job offer that comes your way. Even after taking a job, you don’t have to stay if you realize it was a mistake. So long as your chasing your calling, and being true to who you are, you’re going to be on the right path toward finding the perfect fit for you, and making the most out of your work life…for life.
Now that my novella is over, let’s talk about work-life balance. If you’ve even read this far in the article, chances are, you’re a workhorse. You are likely someone who works tirelessly, and always puts your best foot forward, probably even with a bit of a ‘work-first, my life-second’ kind of mentality. Squash that right now like it’s a butternut. Even if you’ve found your perfect fit, you need to have a positive work-leisure/work-life balance in order to achieve true happiness at work.
So let’s talk about how to accomplish a favourable work to life balance. As much as you might want to make your entire world revolve around work, you need to have other things going for you, and other things that make you unique beyond work. You need to take time for yourself and practice self-care. Whether that be in the morning before work, in the evening after work, or both, you need to find the time for you. You need to do things that you enjoy, that feel personally meaningful to you. This can be difficult to accomplish. Even if you make plans to see people after work, by the time work finishes you might not feel up to going out again. You may even already have other responsibilities, like being the personal taxi driver for your kids. But no matter what, try and set aside some time, by getting into a routine and setting boundaries for yourself.
One key way to carve out the time, is to know your work schedule and stick to it like glue. If you’re working for an organization, this should be relatively easy for you to achieve. If you’re the boss of your own work life, make sure you set yourself a specific work schedule that you stick to. Once you get into the routine of knowing what you have to accomplish each week at work, you’ll begin to have more time for the balance outside of that. If you work from home, you should also have separate spaces for where you work and where you live your ordinary lounging life – ensuring they stay separate. Further, when you’re not working, stop thinking about work! Stop answering work emails. Stop reflecting on all that needs to be done tomorrow. You’re just going to burn yourself out.
Finally, if you work with other people, make time at work to be social, and connect with your co-workers. For example, rather than eating at your desk, eat lunch with your co-workers. This could release the burden to be social when you finish work, whilst fulfilling that social need in your life. If you’re still struggling to achieve a work-life balance after putting all of these steps into motion, consider coaching to help get you out of your rut and achieve a greater equilibrium.
In the quest to make time for you outside of work, consider following your passions all the more. Ponder those five things I had you write down earlier, and think about if any are currently missing from your work life. If something’s missing, I urge you to think about how you could incorporate that into your life, in a way that makes you money. Developing a side hustle based around one of your greatest passions will allow you to have something to look forward to when you finish work. It might even help you financially, and allow you to literally make money in your sleep. This will naturally enhance the value that you bring to the world, and the level of meaning you assign to your life. I always have three to four personal projects that I’m working on at any time outside of work. It keeps me busy, but that’s the way I like to live my life. And it doesn’t have to be starting a business or making a website. It can be taking a course and learning something new. It can be training for a sports event/competition. It can even be reading articles like this and going through the steps of becoming the very best you. So if you can manage the time, why not chase your wildest dreams? That’s where I’ll leave you for today.
When considering how best to go about establishing a positive work life, it’s all about finding the perfect fit for you, achieving a work-life balance, and making time to focus on your personal projects and passions beyond work. Even regardless of the other core principles to becoming the best you, if you can focus on your work life in all of these different areas, you will be on a stellar path toward feeling your most confident self, and living your best life. If you have any questions or want to learn more about becoming the best you, feel free to contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
So there it is! Improving your work life on the path to becoming the best you. Be sure to check out more in this series, and follow on social media via the links below. Thanks for reading and see you soon!
You might also enjoy…
- Part 1 – Improving your social life
- Part 2 – Improving your health
- Part 3 – Improving your work life
- Improving your KSA’s (becoming the best you)
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