home-and-work-life-balanceNow that I am not actively working for any corporate, I believe I am more qualified to talk about achieving work-life balance in the profession. Of course, without goes saying that I would be doing so hoping not to offend any of my past employers.

Its only been little over a week since I left my job and trying to find my feet independently, but this period has enabled me to retrospect and find out how my journey in the corporate world had been for past over a decade of years. Few thoughts that came to my mind with regards to balancing the work-life in professional world, I am attempting to put here.

 

Are you aware of your priorities?

Most of us are driven by tasks and work priorities. We always feel and give priority to what is being told to us by our boss, what the project demands from us and what the team members are expecting from us. I have often seen that people struggle to cope up with the work demands and either stretch to finish the job, struggle to complete and leave it half complete.  May be most of the times all we end up is a day that somehow has finished but, without giving us a bit of satisfaction that we achieved what we set out to achieve.

Stunningly, when I spoke with quite a few people and found what makes them struggle, I found a simple lack of understanding of Urgent vs. Important prioritization and acknowledging them back to the source.  Often this leads to confusion and frustration in situations where the project demands you to pay attention to a critical problem and your boss (or super boss) expects you to complete a task urgently.  Its important that we understand the priorities the role demands from us and act accordingly.

The understanding and acknowledgement of priorities should not only be limited to workplace tasks. It needs to come out of your overall life and what you have set out to work for.  If your family is your priority, make an attempt and an effort to make them most important in your life so that you can plan your work accordingly.

 

Acknowledge the choices, make them or someone else will make it for you

Every situation, however difficult comes with multiple solution and choices that sometimes we lack to see. Often the choices are easy (possibly leading to more issues) and difficult (better in long term) and the history of choices you have made defines your personality.  The choices you have made creates an expectation baseline for you and the perception then becomes difficult to break. 

Typical example is onshore and offshore communication and task allocation where its easy (and sometimes encouraged) by offshore management to simply follow and not argue onshore for aspects that are incorrect. It then becomes a practice, expectation and baseline that is difficult to break. 

Unless YOU choose to be on the right side of choices (and its often difficult), things can not change and you often ending up suffering either by being pushed to corner for your work, experiencing forced decisions and sometimes frustrations.

 

work-life-balance21Corporates are built by nature to squeeze the most out of you

Believe it or not, all the corporates by nature are built to squeeze most out of you.

All the so called people oriented policies are supposed to support you work more in office. Overtime, compensatory off, paid leaves, crèche-at-work are all the facilities to ensure that you spend more and more time in office and give your life for it. 

Very few corporates have rules that prevent you from turning up to office or thinking about work post your work hours.  In fact, most of them reward you for working extra (so called hard work) by promising to pay more, give incentives etc.  Few interesting words that we feel are important and on which our appraisals have been based are,  ‘initiatives’, ‘innovative ideas’, ‘going out of way to support’ inherently means that you are expected to work more to comply the ‘standard’ in your office.

 

Be aware of the trap, understand the priorities, acknowledge and make the choices and you can save yourselves from burning out of work.   Its easy to get caught in the habit of ‘I know it, let me do myself’. Remember, if you do it, you are taking away the right of someone else’s learning it today and in process making it difficult to get rid of it next time it comes.

Be smart, balance life and work. 

Believe me, I know now, its important!

 

Have you ever felt de-motivated, dejected, disappointed or down hearted after a long day’s work ? I am sure you would have at some point in your life, if not every day after the work.  Staying motivated and positive for long time is a real struggle. We are surrounded by and often assaulted by negative thinking and anxiety about the present situation and of course about the future !  We always have a phase where we start doubting ourselves and feel depressed.

Unfortunately there is no master key or a simple solution to unlock the mystery of de-motivation. Even after we feel we are over it, sometimes, it comes back to haunt us in an even bigger way. Here, in this article, I would like to mention few of the points that would help one keep up the motivation, focus and avoid the long spells of depression and dejection, especially at work !

Love music

 

music listeningThe following quote perfectly summarizes why we need to love music. Music refreshes one’s thinking and diverts the persons attention from the tiredness at work to something that is refreshing and soulful that delights the mind. 

 

Music washes away from the soul the dust of everyday life.

~Berthold Auerbach

 

Whilst I am not a big fan of music collection, I do have a small collection of specific songs that I find dear to my heart. It is a decent mixture of all types of songs ranging from disco to classical and ghazals to bhajans. Depending on what emotional state I want to get, I choose the song and listen. This helps me often to get right state of mind before I proceed to do next task.

 

Have a buddy at work

Its important to have someone at work whom you can consider a best friend or a buddy. You need to have one such friend with whom you can share your work difficulties and vent out temporary frustration. Believe me, more often than not, you need some kind of instant emotional support with whom you can talk and share things.

At more stressful jobs, you often experience bursts of negativity around due to several work related matters. So it is always helpful to have someone who you can count on to help you get out of negativity and back to normal mind state.

Human is a social animal and we all have an inherent need of talking and being heard. In case you do not have anyone whom you can to and talk your heart out, it really feels like dejected and lonely at times. Spent a good time with your friend and talk on topics that interest you to get your positivity back on track. On the other hand, please extend help to your buddy when he / she is in the need of help.

 

 

passionHave a passion

In my opinion, having some passion in life is very important.  For me, my passion is watching football.  It keeps me going and helps me keep happy.  My favorite club is Manchester United and I do everything I can to watch them playing (on TV at least). Watching them play my favorite game makes me happier and feel inspired. However, if they lose then there is an equal chance of me feeling more miserable after that. I do keep recordings of certain match clips which I tend to watch when I am feeling a little low and it certainly has helped in keeping me inspired.

Passion is closely related to the emotional behavior of the human and if you see your passion fulfilled, its more of a chance that you feel inspired and motivated.

 

 

Focus on positives

Sometimes, if we experience too much negativity for a prolonged period of time and feel de-motivated for a longer spell of time, we go into a state of mind where all the thoughts start with negative options and creates negative vibes around us.  Once you fall into the negativity trap, its not very easy to come out and have any positive feeling about anything.

In past, when I had fallen into the trap of negativity, I used to feel negative for no real reason and sometimes a mere presence of few people around used to make me start feel de-motivated. However, the wiser I got, I tend to avoid feeling on this trap by concentrating more on the positives that are coming out from the situation.

  • Look at the scenario holistically rather than what is only seen to you
  • Thank God for not making things any worse
  • Find out one positive thing that you can take out of the situation.

As I often mention in many of my conversations, “there are always 100s of negative things that can be made out of the situation, but if you find at least one positive thing out of it, consider it a learning for life and thank GOD”.

Positivity is a habit, and once you get it, you can easily overcome situations that are trying to put you back in the hole of negativity and de-motivation. 

 

Praise others

appreciate_thankyou Appreciation and recognition is one very important aspect of the professional life. Although the nature differs, it is equally important and applicable to all the levels of a profession.  It does not necessary that only the lower levels of hierarchy should be praised and not the middle or upper levels.

Spreading good words makes one feel positive and help others feel good about themselves. This, in turn make change in people’s behavior towards you in a better way, making you feel better. Believe me, speaking positive about someone else’s work and personality is the best way to connect with the person in a right way.

I remember a specific incident when I was given to work with a so-called difficult person. All the people who worked with that person earlier, warned me about the boring and micro-management behavior of the person. While I too felt a little bit strange with his work methods, the more I started to talk to him and praise him about some real good work he had done in past (in some cases without anyone’s real help), it made him really comfortable with me and I could see an immediate behavior change in him towards me allowing me freedom to work the way I want.  Ultimately this led to work satisfaction for both of us and a little bit more positive at work for me !

However, one thing that you need to keep in mind is when to praise someone and how much to praise. There is fine line between real appreciative person and feet-licking bastard !  You need to ensure that you do not cross to the other side ..

 

Open your mind

I always feel that one need to share what he / she feels about the situation in a right way. Its not often very motivating to work in uneasy, unconvincing situations or scenarios where you are in a confused state or feel half-committed to the cause.

Learn a bit about emotional intelligence and try to be aware of your state of mind. One very important, but often neglected, fact is to know our state of mind and understand our emotions. We go through so many emotions such as happiness, inspired, dejection, unhappy, nervousness etc., at work place during various hours of the day and due to several causes, it almost becomes a habit to suppress them and continue with the job we are doing.

Can you stay in a meeting where you do not feel like being, and contribute productively ?  Can you give right suggestions and solutions to a problem, when you are in a state of anger or frustration ?  Definitely not !

The more you suppress your emotions, the more you feel out of control and start losing your own focus.

Its important to let others know what state of mind you are and help yourself in getting back to where you should be. Believe me, the more I tried this, the more I felt in control of the situation and my responses were getting better, in turn making me feel positive and motivated.

 

Think big and have faith

thinkbig Most of the times, frustration grows or increases because we can not see beyond a certain point in current situation and the situation does not really look promising in nature.

When you get the questions, such as “why does it always happen with me”, “why am I being pushed to do something that I do not want to do”, “no one seems to help me here” start flowing in your mind, think of is as time to take a step back and consider the bigger picture and look at the intention behind the situation. 

When such situation occurs, look at the big picture and find out the intentions behind this situation.  In case you are wondering how to do this, I recommend reading a story in my leadership series.

 

You can safely bank on the thumb rule of “intentions of people at work place are never bad, sometimes behaviors are” to sail through this period.

 

On the other hand, if you are unable to trace the intentions and get any positivity of the big picture, think of it as the lowest point and be happy that things can only improve on this point onwards.

Just have faith !

Its been a fantastic break from work for me so far (gosh, its been 3 weeks with no work, no pay !!) and I had a chance to do quite a few things that were pending for me for a very long time.

The first and foremost, I did have a time to play with my little kid ‘Sharv’ and see him growing during his first month. He is one cute little prince for us !

Meanwhile, the furniture work that I had started to get done is complete today and I would soon be posting the photographs on this blog for you all to see and comment on. If you can’t wait until that time, then you might want to have a look at my previous post about my designs and imagine how it may look like 😉 So finally I have my work desk at home where I am sitting to write this blog !

More importantly, I had a great time thinking on what I should be doing as my next move. In my previous post where I mentioned that I have resigned from TechMahindra, I did mention that I had a job offer in my hand and I might join another organization in search of a better & a bigger challenge.

However, when I left TechMahindra, my primary objective was to take a break and think about future.

Amdocs offered me a chance to join their organization and offered me a real challenge that I was looking after. A completely new domain, a very different set of technology & processes & of course different set of people around, was a big challenge. I somehow liked it and finally decided to join the company and take up the new assignment.

I still have the thoughts of getting into entrepreneurship and would be attempting to do something along the way. Keep an eye on http://www.thirdbuttonred.com meanwhile .. !

However, hopefully the new assignment now will give me new chance to prove myself all over again..

Yes, finally the truth is officially out and I admit, I had indeed resigned from TechMahindra few weeks ago !

The need to move out was primarily driven by few personal commitments as well as a very strong need for change in my professional lifestyle.

This company has a very very big influence in my career and helped me grow tremendously well in last 6+ years of association. So when I would leave finally, I would be leaving very strong bonds and relations behind which I would definitely cherish for rest of my life. 

So the decision has nothing to do with my current projects, managers, role, teams, environment, customers, work, freedom or even the money ! Its purely a voluntary decision that I hope would do me well in long term.

I have spent more than 6 very good years in TechMahindra and it has contributed immensely in giving me quality experience, a sense of ownership in the work I do and privilege to work with few extremely talented individuals within the company.  For me, TechMahindra has been a fantastic company and a great journey where I got to learn so many things.

Leaving has not definitely been an easy decision for me ! After all, why would you want to leave a company where the managers want you, give you good responsibility, pay you well and take care of your career growth ??

So what prompted me to leave?

As I mentioned earlier, one of the most important factor was a chance to rediscover myself and challenge myself to get to greater heights in my career. Other factor was a strong need of change in my professional work culture. There was nothing wrong with the current work or nature of work I was doing in TechMahindra, but I thought the things were getting too routine and too easy for me and I started to get an underwhelming feeling about myself.

Probably my ambitions were too high and stopping at one place or on one step for a longer time makes me feel uncomfortable. I want to feel challenged at all times where I get an opportunity to perform consistently at a higher level and eventually be rewarded for the work. Anyways, I would have plenty of time to do retrospective on why I left !!

I also thought the time was right for me to take a decision of moving out because I had right people doing right job in the projects and the project was in good hands. So I thought it would be a win-win situation for the project / company and myself to part ways in a silent way.  Anyways, I would never have deserted the project or my managers or my team if I was not assured of success after me.

What would I do next now?

Well, I would hopefully join another company down the line which I feel would make me excited about the job again and challenge me enough to make me perform at higher level again.

I am also looking at few other ideas in the space of Web 2.0 and social networking that would help me put my first step in entrepreneurship. I have started some background work on writing concepts and business case as well. At the moment, it looks like a long shot though !

Anyways, as and when I have any good idea about any of these options, I would be very happy to post on my blog and let all of you know.

Till that time, I am sure you would wish me well in future !