As I was scrolling through my LinkedIn feed the other day, I came across a Business Insider article that had the following title: “Jeff Bezos says his advice to Amazon interns and execs is to stop aiming for work-life ‘balance’ — here’s what you should strive for instead” [Article Link].
In short, Amazon CEO, Jeff Bezos believes that work and life should not be this balancing act of leading very separate lives. Instead, the two should be shared and seamless. He states that when experiencing positivity in one aspect of his life, at home, work, etc., this positive energy carried over into every other capacity in which he engaged.
This resonated with me.
In higher education, we often hear work-life balance being used to idealize the ultimate work situation; the 7-4 workday, flex-time, lunchtime yoga sessions, paternity leave, pet leave, etc. Working in an industry that is always changing and shifting prepares us to be flexible and adaptable. When it comes to the idea of work-life balance, we need to begin to shift our mentality and language to focus on our careers, our ‘work’ as simply a part of who we are, versus something completely separate. While I was anticipating writing this piece about work-life ‘balance’, I realized that the points I was going to emphasize were actually those of a holistic sense of wellness, instead of flipping between the two.
This summer, I intend to bring this idea of wellness to the forefront of my Summer To-Do List. Below are some elements that I encourage you to incorporate into your lives to help assist in the merging of your personal and professional self:
- Be Present. Whether you are in a meeting, at a conference, vacationing at Disney World or at home, being present means engaging in that space and with the people and things that occupy it. Appreciate the good and the bad. By being present you will notice a heightened sense of awareness and understanding and begin to build deeper relationships with those around you. (Tip: When struggling to be fully attentive, try grounding yourself by placing both feet flat on the floor. This stance helps to eliminate distractions and increase your listening and concentration skills.)
- [Re]Connect with Mentors. If you have these people in your lives already, reach out to them and make time to get together, face-to-face. If not, begin to realize those in your life who have offered you guidance, support, and those who have even pushed or encouraged you to overcome challenges and barriers. These individuals don’t necessarily have to be your supervisor or someone who is senior to you. Make the effort to seek out individuals who will have a vested interest in your growth and development as an individual.
- Exercise. The mind– relax, meditate, read, write, listen, and reflect. The body– run, walk, stretch, lift, climb, hike, bike, and play. The soul– do more of what makes you feel happy and invigorated.
- Create, Refine and Assess your Goals. The goals we have are the reasons we do what we do; they fuel us. Instead of focusing on goals being categorized into buckets, professional versus personal, spiritual versus emotional, and so on, think about how one goal might impact the other and how they can support one another. Find the ‘why’ in your life and then every action from then on should complement that.
By incorporating these behaviors into our daily routine, we can take steps toward achieving wellness that exceeds the boundaries of any role we might play. I challenge you to consider these elements above and think of ways you can start balancing your personal and professional selves, instead of keeping them separate from one another. So, this summer, think like Jeff. Put the focus on positivity, your holistic self, and explore your own definition of wellness.
Bernard, Z. (2018, May 1). Jeff Bezos says his advice to Amazon interns and execs is to stop aiming for work-life ‘balance’ — here’s what you should strive for instead. http://www.businessinsider.com/jeff-bezo-advice-to-amazon-employees-dont-aim-for-work-life-balance-its-a-circle-2018-4
This post is part of our #SACareer series, addressing careers in student affairs, careers outside of student affairs, and the work of career services professionals. Read more about the series in Jake Nelko’s intro post. Each post is a contribution by a member or friend of the Commission for Career Services from ACPA. Our organization exists to benefit the careers of career services professionals, student affairs professionals, and anyone supporting students in the career endeavors. For more information about how to get involved with the Commission for Career Services or the #SACareer blog series, contact Terri Carr at firstname.lastname@example.org.
About the Author
Kristen Washington is a Recruiting Coordinator in Career Exploration and Development at Kent State University. She received her M.S.Ed. in Higher Education Administration from the University of Akron and her B.S. from The Ohio State University. She likes to exercise her mind by watching Netflix and listening to podcasts such as Harry Potter and the Sacred Text, her body by playing sand volleyball and hiking, and the soul by eating delicious food and hanging with family, friends, and her Goldendoodle, Elsa. Follow Kristen on Twitter @Kristenmwash and LinkedIn.