Career Opportunities

The High-Tech Career Handbook

A weekly ComputorEdge Column and Podcast by Douglas E. Welch

Something for your

December 17, 1999

** Listen to this column on your computer, iPod or other audio player **

Listen | Listen (Backup)

Here we are, a week from Christmas. It is so hard to believe that another year is almost over. It does provide a time for a little reflection, though. Reflection on what you accomplished, what slipped away and what to concentrate your energies on in the coming year. The fact that this year is also the beginning of a new century only makes us all more aware of the passage of time and how important it is to get as much from our time as possible.

Something for yourself

Have you wanted a new PalmPilot to carry your contacts and appointments? Are your clothes looking a bit ragged after climbing around behind racks of networking equipment or under the desks of your computer users? Have you been working so hard that your children point and ask your spouse who that unfamiliar person is? Sometimes we can get so caught up in the act of making a living that we forget the living part.

In the next few weeks do something for yourself. This can mean anything from shopping for some new clothes to taking your kids to the park for an hour or two. Take a few minutes to reconnect with who you are outside of your career. I have written in the past about the importance of defining yourself in a variety of ways. This is the perfect time of year to try it. Do you think you might like to do some woodworking? Drop a few hints to your spouse and children about that new router available at Sears. Do you like to go hiking? Gather up the family, or go by yourself, to a local outdoor area. Breathe in air that hasn't been processed through air-conditioning and neighboring cubicles. You will be pleasantly surprised at the effect this has on you.

Doing less in order to do more

While it may seem a foreign concept getting away from your job can be the best way of doing better at your job. I see too many friends who are scared to take vacation because they feel their job might be danger. They slave away for long hours, day after day, week after week, getting progressively more and more tired. Eventually it takes a nasty cold, a bout with the flu or worse to get them to take a few days off. Imagine how much more productive you might be if you regularly took some time for yourself each and every week. Imagine coming to the office refreshed instead of resigned to another back-breaking week of endless toil.

As you all probably know, there is a relatively new law that allows workers to take several weeks of family leave when they have a family medical situation such as a new baby or caring for a sick family member. Legislators worked hard to provide this option and yet so few people make use of it. Too many people feel that they will be punished for taking time for their family regardless of the legality of it. Too many employers subtly (and not so subtly) communicate to their employees that just because they have to provide family leave doesn't mean they like employees to use it..

To me, this is a warning sign that the company you are working for is less than ideal. Any smart company knows that an employee who is worrying about a new baby is not working at their highest level. Why not give them the opportunity to get through one of the most stressful moments in their lives and come back confident and refreshed instead of sleep-deprived and prone to errors.

Career Zen

While the holidays can be hectic they often yield small pieces of time that can be used for contemplation. Perhaps you have a few moments between putting the kids to sleep and heading off to bed yourself. I find that I enjoy sitting in the living room with only the lights from the Christmas tree to be a wonderful Zen-like experience. It gives me a moment to decompress and let my mind wander over all that has happened this year. Spend a few minutes thinking about the good parts of this year. Where do you wish you could spend more time? What activities made you the happiest? What is your vision of the best work and home life possible? Can you get there? Can you get close?

May the New Year bring the career you most desire.

Podcast Feed

Subscribe with iTunes!