Assess Your Work and Personal Life in 3 Simple Steps

Are portions of your work or personal life beyond your control? Probably yes.  Are you taking care of yourself?  Probably not. Whether you are a solo or large firm lawyer, a person holding three jobs to make ends meet, a parent managing your own schedule as well as school and sports for your children, or one of the “Sandwich Generation” managing elder care, your “work” life is 24/7/365.

You deserve the same respect that you give to your pet’s annual vaccination and your car’s winterization. Pick a day that is imprinted on your consciousness (January 1, Tax Day, Memorial Day, Labor Day) and kick-start your annual work-life self-assessment.

This three-part exercise is a no-tech annual work-life examination that you can post to your PDA and work on at your leisure. It asks questions about what you do and what you want to do, and invites you to brainstorm for specific, useful details. Use the results to create an annual work-life “to do” list, and review it next year. While not a 10-minutes-and-done project, you need not find a therapist, go into seclusion, or join a “Kumbaya” choir to help yourself achieve your goals at work as well as in your personal life.

What Am I Doing? A work-life analysis

  1. Ideal:  List the parts of your personal life and work that are most important to you.
    • Consider: the responsibilities and tasks that you enjoy and want to continue, as well as things that you know that you want to add to your life or work.
    • Include: work setting (independent or on a team), substance of paid or volunteer work, commute, compensation, management’s collaboration and communication style, type of clients/customers, location, adversarial posture, opportunities for your spouse/partner and children, access to schools/childcare, culture and community for your outside interests, etc. Because this is about you and your life, and because it is private, consider the details that are important to you.
  2. Negotiating:  Set up negotiating positions. For example, your ideal commute to work may be 15 minutes, but you would drive for an hour to the right job. Also set up neutral territory that covers roles, tasks and details that are not your favorite things about work, but that you would not mind continuing to do.
  3. Deal Breakers: List the situations or characteristics of a job which would cause you to decline an opportunity or that would cause you to leave on Day 1 if you had forgotten to ask about them during the interview process.  If there are deal breakers in your personal life, list them too.

Good luck!


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