Posts Tagged ‘work-life balance’

Your values and how they impact on your work

August 21, 2013

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When was the last time you considered what’s important to you / what you value?

Values are what drive your decisions and your behaviour.

Values affect how you choose your friends, what hobbies/interests you pursue, and may also affect which jobs/car you go for.

Values are important because you use them to evaluate yourself and others.

For example, if one of your values is honesty, you are more likely to hand in a wallet you find in the street to a local police station. You are also going to get a sense of satisfaction from doing so, which makes you feel good. Hence, you evaluate this action positively. On the other hand, if you see someone taking something that isn’t theirs, you will feel a sense of discomfort and evaluate their actions negatively.

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Choosing activities that align with our values results in us feeling happier, more fulfilled and more comfortable in our own skin. If the activities we engage in don’t support our values, then we find ourselves in conflict. Many work-place relationship issues can be put down to conflicting values.

Organisations often promote their own values, although these aren’t always written down! An example here could be a workplace putting a value on people who work longer hours. This can promote inner conflict if you value a good work-life balance. Nothing’s necessarily written down, but people’s behaviour suggests it!

Within organisations, leaders will often lead their teams according to their own value systems. So if they are internally motivated and don’t require regular feedback on how well they are doing, their default position may be – they don’t see the value in providing feedback to their team members. For a team member who values, and is motivated by, regular feedback – he/she is likely to become unhappy, demotivated and perhaps disillusioned.

  • How aware of our values are we?
  • Do you know what your values are? … These can be different for different areas of your life, and there can be common ones too.

Working out your values

1. Divide your life up into areas. For example:

  • work
  • family
  • friends
  • hobbies/interests, etc.

2. For each area, list what is important to you. For example:

  • companionship
  • security
  • honesty
  • wealth
  • trust

3. Examine the list(s) closely and ask yourself if there’s anything missing. Do you need to add something? For example:

  • adventure
  • success
  • freedom
  • fairness

4. Arrange your list in order of importance. Ask yourself, “Is ‘A’ more important than ‘B’?” Or “If I had to choose ‘B’ or ‘C’, which would be most important?”

Follow-up …

Score each item on the list as a percentage in terms of how well that value is being met. For example, if success is important to you in the workplace, how successful do you feel you are currently with your role/tasks? 100%? … 50%? … 75%?

Any area with a low score is worthy of the question: 

“What needs to change to ensure this value is met?”

2013 Goals – It’s all in the language

January 14, 2013

Popular targets people set for themselves are around what they want less of in the year ahead …

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  • I want to eat less chocolate
  • I want to lose weight
  • I want to be less stressed
  • I want less clutter
  • I want to work less evenings during the week

Have you ever found yourself phrasing your goals in terms of what you are trying to avoid, reduce or give up?

What we say to ourselves about the changes we want to make is crucial in achieving those changes.

When I was doing my coaching training, one thing I learned stuck in my mind … apparently the brain doesn’t process negative language the way we intend it to.

So for  “I want to eat less chocolate”, the brain doesn’t interpret that you want to reduce your chocolate intake, rather it focuses on “I want to eat ___ chocolate”.

Thinking about how I used to set goals it makes sense that this was happening with me on a conscious as well as a subconscious level. Whenever I thought about my goals I found myself reminded about what I was trying to avoid!

So focus on what you want, rather than on what you’re aiming to avoid – even if you start from the latter point, you can always re-word your goals to something more positive and achievable.

For example:

  • I want to eat fruit (or other healthier) snacks between meals
  • I want to be ___ kg (or stone/pounds!)
  • I want to have strategies I can use for stressful situations
  • I want to create a tidy home/work space
  • I want to have 3 evenings a week to spend with family/friends/chilling out

How have you worded your goals this year?

Connecting with the real you

August 1, 2012

When we’re in the thick of it at work we often find ourselves being pulled in different directions, with different demands on our time and energies. We are different things to different people. We rarely have time for ourselves.

So when your holiday comes around, who do you become? What’s your default position? And is this the real you?!

Do you prefer a more relaxing time?

Or something more energetic / adventurous?

Or is it all about quality family time?

Images: FreeDigitalPhotos.net

I tend to go for a mixture of all 3! I like my “me time” – where I reflect on the past few months, what I’ve achieved, and where I want to go next (business; health/well-being). I also like to reconnect with what’s important, my values, and ensure that these are being catered for in my plans for moving forward.

I usually combine this with being out and about, going places I’ve never been before, taking photos and soaking it all up. New experiences feed the soul. Love this view we discovered recently of Chatsworth grounds from a ‘secret pond’ we’d never have discovered had we not been walking the dog nearby.

Sometimes you don’t have to go far to discover something new!

Quality time with family and friends is also high on the agenda around this time. I always enjoy my trips to visit family – spread all over the country from the NE to Poole in Dorset. Recent experiences have nailed home that life is short, and we should both embrace it and have no regrets.

I feel that I connect more with the ‘real me’ when I am having a break … I have more space to reflect and plan.

What about you?

Getting the balance right at work

January 20, 2012

Thinking about some of the Christmas presents I have enjoyed most in the past couple of weeks, I’ve noticed a pattern. I’ve loved listening to new CDs, using my new phone to listen to music during down-time, and playing the piano (I got the sheet music for the theme tune to Downton Abbey and I’m aiming to be as proficient as the pianist in this link!)

The common theme is obviously music; I hadn’t realised how much I’d been missing it in my life.

Getting the balance right in our personal lives is a very individual thing. What one person needs to feel in balance is probably quite different to the next person, and even the people you live with. This applies to our working lives too.

The Wheel of Life is a common coaching tool used to measure your satisfaction with different areas of your life, seeing where there’s an imbalance, and identify potential areas for development. Looking at the typical Wheel of Life – Career is only one part of the big picture, and it’s important that we get an appropriate balance for ourselves in this big picture.

But if you were to create a Wheel of Work for yourself, to ensure there’s suitable balance in your working life, what would it look like?

Here’s a version of the Wheel of Work which I’ve adapted and used with Team leaders. They can adapt it as they see fit, changing headings to reflect their priorities and role.

So, if you were to examine your balance at work, which headings would you use?

On a scale of 1-10, how would you score yourself for each area?

(Photo credit: renjith krishnan)

The value of values

August 11, 2011

It was heartening to see community members and businesses in Clapham joining forces, and using the power of social media positively, to help with the clear up following the looting and wanton violence of the London riots earlier this week.  As I write this, I am hearing of more examples of communities coming together using Twitter and Facebook to co-ordinate clear-up operations.

So what’s important to these people? What values do they hold that are driving them to lend their support? Fairness perhaps, or community spirit?

Values are what drive your decisions and your behaviour, such as the passionate response from the Hackney woman during the riots. Values affect how you choose your friends, what hobbies/interests you pursue, and may also affect which jobs/car you go for.

Values are important because you use them to evaluate yourself and others. For example, if one of your values is honesty, you are more likely to hand in a wallet you find in the street to a local police station. You are also going to get a sense of satisfaction from doing so, which makes you feel good. Hence, you evaluate this action positively. On the other hand, if you see someone taking something that isn’t theirs, you will feel a sense of discomfort and evaluate their actions negatively.

Choosing activities that align with our values results in us feeling happier, more fulfilled and more comfortable in our own skin. If the activities we engage in don’t support our values, then we find ourselves in conflict.

Business and organisations often promote their own values, although these aren’t always written down! An example here could be a company that (quietly) values people who work longer hours. This can promote inner conflict if you value a good work-life balance, as well as affecting your health!

Within businesses, leaders will often lead their teams according to their own value systems. So if they are internally motivated and don’t require regular feedback on how well they are doing, their default position may be that they don’t see the value in providing feedback to their team members. For a team member who values, and is motivated by, regular feedback – he/she is likely to become unhappy, demotivated and perhaps disillusioned.

How aware of our values are we?

Do you know what your values are? These can be different for different areas of your life, and there can be common ones too.

Working out your values

1. Divide your life up into areas. For example:

  • work
  • family
  • friends
  • hobbies/interests, etc.

2. For each area, list what is important to you. For example:

  • companionship
  • security
  • honesty
  • wealth
  • trust

3. Examine the list(s) closely and ask yourself if there’s anything missing. Do you need to add something? For example:

  • adventure
  • success
  • freedom
  • fairness

4. Arrange your list in order of importance. Ask yourself, “Is ‘A’ more important than ‘B’?” Or “If I had to choose ‘B’ or ‘C’, which would be most important?”

Follow-up …

Score each item on the list as a percentage in terms of how well that value is being met. For example, if success is important to you in the workplace, how successful do you feel you are with your role/tasks? 100%? … 50%? … 75%?

Any area with a low score is worthy of the question: “What needs to change to ensure this value is met?”

(Photo credit: graur razvan ionut)

Make time for the golf balls

February 13, 2011

28 Day Blog Challenge – Day 13

This weekend I’ve made a conscious effort to spend quality time with family/friends and give myself a break from the usual routine. I believe it’s important to get the balance right between routine, rest and time with others whose company you enjoy.

A great example to highlight what I’m talking about here is the following short story. Some useful and thought-provoking messages within:

The Mayonnaise Jar and the 2 Cups of Coffee

When things in your lives seem almost too much to handle, when 24 hours in a day are not enough, remember the mayonnaise jar and the 2 cups of coffee.

A professor stood before his philosophy class and had some items in front of him. When the class began, he wordlessly picked up a very large and empty mayonnaise jar and proceeded to fill it with golf balls. He then asked the students if the jar was full. They agreed that it was.

The professor then picked up a box of pebbles and poured them into the jar. He shook the jar lightly. The pebbles rolled into the open areas between the golf balls. He then asked the students again if the jar was full. They agreed it was.

The professor next picked up a box of sand and poured it into the jar. Of course, the sand filled up everything else. He asked once more if the jar was full. The students responded with a unanimous “yes”.

The professor then produced two cups of coffee from under the table and poured the entire contents into the jar effectively filling the empty space between the sand. The students laughed.

“Now”, said the professor as the laughter subsided, “I want you to recognise that this jar represents your life. The golf balls are the important things … your family, your children, your health, your friends and your favourite passions … and if everything else was lost and only they remained, your life would still be full.

The pebbles are the other things that matter like your job, your house and your car.

The sand is everything else … the small stuff. “If you put the sand into the jar first,” he continued, “there is no room for the pebbles or the golf balls. The same goes for life. If you spend all your time and energy on the small stuff you will never have room for the things that are important to you.

“Pay attention to the things that are critical to your happiness. Play with your children. Take time to get medical check-ups. Take your spouse out to dinner. Play another 18. There will always be time to clean the house and fix the disposal. Take care of the golf balls first … the things that really matter. Set your priorities. The rest is just sand.”

One of the students raised her hand and inquired what the coffee represented.

The professor smiled. “I’m glad you asked. It just goes to show you that no matter how full your life may seem, there’s always room for a couple of cups of coffee with a friend.”