This blog is on topics of interest to early career professionals who work with people with disabilities. Blog contributors have diverse perspectives on leadership, professional development, and success in changing systems to better serve people with disabilities and their families. For more information on Early Career Professionals, check out the website: www.aucd.org/ecp

06 July, 2010

On the Beam

Your voice mail has 7 new messages, and there are 237 unread emails in your inbox. The summary needs to be written, and a stack of journals is sitting at your elbow. The document needs re-formatting and the spreadsheet is out of date. You desperately need a haircut, and you know the vacuuming hasn’t been done in a week. There’s a presentation coming up and your handouts aren’t quite perfect, and the boss is asking you to attend a 3-day meeting that screams “big opportunity” for all the people you’ll meet. You forgot to make the cupcakes for the kids’ party tomorrow at school.

You’re long on desire and short on time. Thus is the life of many, especially the early career professionals. Now is the time you want to grab every opportunity you can to follow your passion… and you should! You were trained to be a leader, so you know the value of taking advantage of every chance to advance yourself and your career. And what better chance to do it? But if you’re anything like me, you’re also a bit of a perfectionist and over-achiever, striving to make a good impression and constantly prove yourself by ambitiously tackling new projects. Your ideas are brimming over, and your enthusiasm shows. Good for you! But when the project runs into a snag and you feel as if you’ll never leave the office, it’s time to regain your balance.

Demands for your time are getting stronger and stronger, especially if you are working in a setting where money’s tight and tasks are plenty. Time is even tighter if you’ve got family and kids at home. Sometimes you just need to pause. Take a “walk around the block” break. Spend some time in the garden. Talk to your coworker about a non-office related topic. Play the newest video game. Regain your balance.

There’s always something that HAS to be done – and done yesterday. There’s always going to be another innovative idea right around the corner that you really want to tackle. But your mother was right – if you don’t take care of yourself, you’re no good to anyone else. WebMD’s article on 5 Tips for Better Work-Life Balance suggests protecting your private time so that you can be more successful and fulfilled in your work and personal life. If you don’t take a moment to clear your head, all those great ideas will get jammed up and never come out. One of the worst things you can do is get over-stressed and burned out.

So take 10 minutes and a good office friend and walk to the bakery down the block. You’ll be back in no time, refreshed and better than ever. Then tell your boss you’ll gladly attend the Big Opportunity Meeting. While maintaining the right balance in your life, you’ll also get those slides finished in no time. But balancing your desire to eat the kids’ cupcakes you bought on your walk is another story…

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