(Day 5) Creating Your Work+Life Fit Plan—Making it a Win-Win

Welcome to Day 5 of the “Work+Life Fit in 5 Days” Series!  It’s time to create a work+life fit plan that best meets your needs and the realities of your job, as they stand today.

Remember, this series not only helps you find your own work+life fit.  It’s equally as important if we want to create more flexible organizations.  That requires a partnership between employer and employee.  Yes, employers need to do their part to create the space where mutually-beneficial flexibility can be discussed and thrive (we need to do more in this area, but we’ve come a long way).  However, we must know how meet our employers halfway, even if they aren’t all joining us at the table… yet (see Fear roadblocks post).

How do you take the vision of what you want and then work through a process that matches that goal with the realities of our work and life? Today, Day 5, introduces you to highlights of that process.

After Days 1-4, You’re Ready and Aware

Before we get started, let’s look back at how the previous four days make it possible for you to create and implement a plan with the greatest likelihood of thriving.   Typically, individuals jump right to the “create a plan,” step.  But first you must have achieved a level of readiness and awareness which we covered in Days 1-4:

Day 1:  What is Work+Life Fit? (Why Does it Matter?) / Seeing the Possibilities

Day 2:  Challenging Work+Life Fit Roadblocks—Success: Money, Prestige, Advancement and Caregiving

Day 3:  Challenging Work+Life Fit Roadblocks—Fear

Day 4:  What Do You Want?  Creating Your Work+Life Fit Vision / Your Internal Guidance

You’re ready, you’re aware, and you have a glimmering idea of what you want, here are the highlights for creating a solid, well-thought out plan.  Like yesterday, we’re covering a lot of territory in the space of a blog post.  Therefore, I am sharing a number of excerpts from the book that will take you to the next level if interested.   Good stuff!

“How to” Roadmap: Making Your Vision a Reality

Excerpt from Work+Life: Finding the Fit That’s Right for You

“You’ve created your work+life vision—a vision full of imagination and possibility, and free of limitation. Now it’s time to change direction and make that vision a reality. This is where the dreaming ends and the steps to actualize your vision begin.

Your vision must be compatible with the current realities of your work and personal life if your final work+life fit is going to succeed.
This involves a “compare for compatibility” process whereby you compare your vision to each specific aspect of your work and personal life in order to identify and potential mismatches. The goal is to rectify and incompatibility before implementing your work+life fit, thus reducing the chance of being derailed later.

Resolving an incompatibility involves changing the reality of it at all possible, or if that’s not an option, adjusting your original vision. Depending on how far apart your vision and your realities are, all of the comparing and adjusting can transform your vision into a very different final work+life fit plan at the end of the roadmap. This may seem a bit disconcerting. You may wonder why you should exert the effort to create that vision in the first place if it’s only going to change. There are two very good reasons…” (Click here for more or to download or print PDF).

Six Most Common Changes Your Vision Will Involve

Making your work+life vision a reality will most likely involve changes in one or more of the following:

  • Why you are working
  • What type of work you do
  • Whom you work for/with
  • How you work
  • When you work
  • Where you work


Excerpt from Work+Life Finding the Fit That’s Right for You

“Believe it or not, finding a better work+life fit can be as simple as reframing why you’re working. For some, the source of conflict is “Why am I doing this type of work or this particular job?” The good news is that you don’t necessarily need to leave your current situation to discover an enhanced sense of purpose. Jim’s Story…” (Click here for more or to download or print PDF).

I’ve written about job crafting and encore careers as two examples of changing the “why” or purpose behind the work you are doing.   It’s makes a difference.


Excerpt from Work+Life Finding the Fit That’s Right for You

“ Perhaps your vision for a better work+life fit includes a different job or career altogether. This was my experience when I resolved my work/life conflict by transitioning from banking to work+life strategy consulting. It is also the experience of many of my clients. You can devote the same amount of time and energy to a job that you enjoy and a job you don’t. One will make you feel great, while the other will result in work/life conflict.”  (Click here for more or to download or print PDF).

Yup, sometimes you just don’t like what you are doing, and you need to do a different type of work altogether.  Here are some great online resources/books to help you change careers (please share any others you’ve found helpful):


Excerpt from Work+Life Finding the Fit That’s Right for You

“One of the key components of work/life satisfaction is a supportive work environment. To find it, you may have to work for a new company…The other two key components of your work environment are a supportive manager and coworkers…That said, it follows that either an unsupportive manager or an unsupportive coworker is enough to cause conflict. If this is your reality, your vision for a better work+life fit could involve changing whom you work with…Denise’s Story” (Click here for more or to download or print PDF)

But before you make the leap, double check how you might make some adjustments in your own behavior could make the situation better.  For more, read, “Lost heart with your current job? Don’t rush to escape” by Christine Livingston at A Different Kind of Work.

CREATE A WORK+LIFE FLEX PLAN—Change How, When and/or Where You Work

You create a work+life flex plan when your vision is to have greater flexibility in how, when and/or where you are working in order to find your “fit.”  Notice a couple of things that I didn’t say.  They don’t seem like a big deal, but matter:

  • I didn’t say you want to “telecommute,” “work part-time,” “have flextime.” My experience is that very few work+life flex plans neatly into the standard “flexible work arrangement” boxes.  What if you want to come in earlier and work from home every other Thursday?  Instead, think of what you are trying to do more broadly, which is to change how, when and/or where you work.  Again, creates possibilities.
  • I use the word “plan” and not “arrangement.” This is on purpose. Like a business plan, your work+life flex plan is an agreement that benefits both parties.  It’s a living, breathing understanding that should be reviewed regularly, adapted over time and may take a few rounds of negotiation to finalize.  Whereas, arrangement, as in flexible work arrangement, sounds like an accommodation that someone either does or does not bestow upon you as a favor.  This isn’t a “nice-to-have” perk.  It’s good business and it should be described that way.

The Compare-for-Compatibility Process: From Vision to Flex Plan

(Note:  Each of the realities in the compare-for compatibility process have a corresponding chapter in the book that walks you step-by-step through a plan development.  But overview information below gets you started.)

Couple of Key Points about a Well-Thought Out Work+Life Flex Plan

  • The final version of the plan that you discuss with your manager should include work realities ONLY—how you will get your job done. You analyze both your work and personal realities in order to create a complete picture of your work+life fit, so that you have all of your bases covered.   Try to avoid getting into the “why” behind your plan as much as possible, because it shouldn’t matter.
  • In the plan you present and discuss with your manager, lead with how this will benefit the business, because it will! Does having greater flexibility: Make you more productive (give a concrete number—save 2 hours commuting; not interrupted, therefore, can get reports done faster); provide more client coverage (shifting hours can provide before or after hours support);  save money (if reducing your schedule not paying you as much).
  • Try to think of all the possible “Yeah, buts…” your manager will have and try to address then upfront. Common ones:  How will I reach you?  How will I know you are working?  These are easy to address before they get in your way.
  • Make sure you can be flexible with your flexibility.  This is especially important for people with caregiving responsibilities. As you analyze your personal realities, make sure you give yourself a cushion that allows you to “go the extra mile,” occasionally.  In today’s workplace where the unexpected can pop up, we need to be able to lend a hand now and then.

Excerpt from Work+Life: Finding the Fit That’s Right for You

“Time to hit the Work+Life Fit Roadmap to begin making your vision a reality. When you change how, when, and/or where you work and devote it to your personal life. But there are certain realities in both your work life and personal life that influence whether or not these changes can be made. Addressing those realities is the focus for the next part of the roadmap. These critical realities are:

realitiesThink of the process as a production line that manufacturers the final work+life fit you will implement. Your original vision is the raw material that goes into the process, while the work and personal realities to your vision is compared along the line molds it into a final work+life fit that is viable and realistic.

Before we begin, here’s a quick overview of the ways in which changing how, when, and where you work can lead to a better work+life fit…Changing ‘How You Work… Changing “When” You Work…Changing “Where” You Work…Compare-for-Compatibility…” (Click here for more or to download or print PDF)

Congratulations!  You’ve finished the “Work+Life Fit in 5 Days” series.  I hope you feel better prepared to move forward to find a better fit–even a small change–in 2010!

This series offered you a preview of the “how-to” basics of managing your work+life fit as a partner with your employer.  Obviously, this is just the beginning, so if you want more please consider the following:

  • Buy the book in print or for Kindle at Amazon.com
  • Sign up to receive my blogs:  via email or via RSS feed in the upper right hand corner of the blog.
  • Follow me and the others dedicated to the topic on Twitter (@caliyost)

Entire “Work+Life Fit in 5 Days” Series:

Day 1: What is Work+Life Fit? / Seeing the Possibilities

Day 2:  Challenge Roadblocks — Redefine Success:  Money and Prestige / Advancement and Caregiving

Day 3:  Challenge Roadblocks — Fear

Day 4:  What Do You Want? / Your Internal Guidance and My Story

Day 5:  Creating Your Work+Life Fit Plan–Making It a Win-Win

Want more?

  • Order the book with the entire Work+Life Fit process: in print or on Kindle at www.Amazon.com
  • Sign up to receive a weekly email of blog post highlights and/or the RSS feed in the upper right corner of the blog
  • Follow me on Twitter @caliyost

4 thoughts on “(Day 5) Creating Your Work+Life Fit Plan—Making it a Win-Win

  1. Cali, first I want to congratulate you for this fabulous series. You have put your heart into it and the results are terrific!

    And what a great way to end – with a really pragmatic process that helps people think through how they can make things different from themselves.

    I agree with you that employers too must play their part in addressing the diverse needs of the people who work for them. Meantime, your advice helps people understand their own power and voice in the process.

    Apart from that, it has been exciting to follow the dialogue that has gone on here and on Twitter this week involving yourself and other clever women whose opinions, whilst different, have a similar vibration. I’m looking forward to seeing how things unfold and develop from here!

  2. This is a great series Cali. Great concrete steps to get the work you love. It can be done. I love my job(s) and when you love your work, your life is much more rewarding.

    1. Thanks Catherine! Hopefully we can give everyone the skills and support they need to finding an equally fulfilling “fit”.

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