Would a Seamless Work-Life Existence Work For You? 5 Questions to Ask Yourself.

Do you ever wonder if you could make your life more “seamless”?  Would it work for you to have less division between your work and personal lives?

In these glorious summer months, I am reminded of how much I like a seamless work-life existence.  I like that when I get up in the morning at our house in the Gulf Islands of British Columbia, I can spend an hour wandering around the vegetable and flower gardens and then take the big 2-second commute to my upstairs office.

I like the fact that I can join a conference call from my backyard hammock, or pause on an all-day bike ride to return a call to a client.  I like that I can be on-line returning emails five minutes after arrival at our house in Mexico, and then go up on the rooftop to watch the sun set.

A seamless existence works for me.  I think I have developed a reasonable skill at focusing on work…and then just as intently focusing on leisure.  Furthermore, I would suggest that if you are running your own business – or contemplating running your own business – it is a vital skill to learn.  Too many people leave the stresses of a full-time job, only to be just as stressed, or more so, at their own company.

Not everyone can switch channels from work to leisure easily.  If you can’t find that switch, you can find yourself permanently on the work channel or conversely, forever on the play channel.  It is one of the most important factors to consider before you launch yourself on a career as an independent consultant, coach or any other career direction that requires self-management.

So if you are thinking of heading in this career direction, here are 5 questions you might ask yourself to test your ability to lead a seamless existence:

1.  Importance of work colleagues: ask yourself how important it is to have work colleagues close at hand?  The old water cooler conversation (or modern day equivalent!) is considered key to many people in being able to maintain not only work relationships but also keeping abreast of what is going on in the company.  Give this one careful consideration because it may be that this element is a critical success factor for you.

2.  Ability to have someone to bounce ideas off:  running your own home office based company can not only be lonely, but some people miss the close proximity of having someone to bounce ideas off.  Do you have a network of people that you could call or meet over coffee who could be sounding boards for you?  Remember this does NOT always include your clients – they pay you to know the answers!

3.  Stimulation of the work place:  are you a person who enjoys the buzz and activity of an office?  Do you need a certain amount of visual and audio stimulation to get your juices going?  Will you be able to recreate that in some way in the quiet of a home office?

4.  Closing off distractions:  if you are a person who needs quiet in order to work, can you create that in your home office?  Kids coming home from school, dogs barking, your partner asking you to do things – these are all common distractions.  One home office consultant told me that she has the cleanest kitchen floor in Vancouver since she creates the distraction of sweeping the floor to avoid working!

5.  Self sufficiency:  be tough on yourself: can you truly manage your own calendar, create your own power points, remember to buy post-it notes?  If you are accustomed to having a support person, it can be difficult to teach yourself new tricks and remember all the little and not-so-little things that keep an office functioning and keep you efficient and generating those billable hours.  Is it worth learning to do these things yourself or can you afford to hire someone to do them?  A good solution is to engage a Virtual Assistant on an as-needed basis.  But if you are used to having someone in the next office, this might not be enough. These are just a few of the things to consider.  Another colleague of mine said the thing she missed most was getting dressed up to go to the office.  Her solution was to put on a business suit and makeup every morning and then go to her home office!

I have developed a tool kit for people looking to start their own businesses, including a list of resources.  If you would like to find out what’s in that tool kit and further test your readiness for a seamless existence, please send me an email or give me a call.

And enjoy the rest of the summer!

Linda Oglov

On the Work Train of Life – Is This My Stop? 5 Questions to Help you Decide if it is Time to Retire.

For a few years now, people have been asking me when I am going to retire.  At age 63, my answer is: “when I no longer enjoy what I am doing!”

Bit of a flippant answer, but I mean it.  I love the business development and coaching work that I do and I am having a good time doing it.  Isn’t that what we hope for at every stage in our lives and careers?

Many people in my age bracket, and younger, are obsessed with deciding when to retire.  Most common refrain being: “do I have enough money to retire?”   But I would suggest there are other questions that are equally valid.

The analogy with a train, let’s call it the work train, is apt.  I have a friend and colleague whom I would say got off the work train too soon.  It wasn’t his stop and I think he has regretted it ever since.  And it is not always easy to get back on the train, or figure out where your destination actually is.

Here are 5 Common Work Stops and the questions you may want to ask yourself to determine if this is indeed your stop:

1. The “I Have Enough Money” Stop – just as money is not the only reason we work, it shouldn’t be the only reason we stop working.  If you are in the lucky place of having enough money to live on for the rest of your life, perhaps this is your stop.  But, in my view, it shouldn’t be the leading decision maker.

• Question: Where does money fit on the scale of what is most important to me?  Are there other factors that are more significant?

2. The “Everybody Else is Getting Off Here” Stop – when you starting hitting a certain age, you look around and see many people your age getting off the train.  Maybe you should too?

• Question:  Take a look at the folks getting off at this stop: are they headed for a similar destination to you?  Have you made other major life decisions based on similar criteria to that of these folks?

3. The “Looks like a Nice Golf Course” Stop – how many times have you heard someone say, in response to the what are you going to do when you retire question, that they are just going to play golf, or work in the garden or lie on a beach.  Really?  For 365 days of the year?  For some people it works, for others they are bored to tears in a few months.

• Question: if you looked at your calendar for the next 365 days, how many of them do you want to spend on this activity?  What else will be in that calendar?

4. The “This is the Place I Can Do Good” Stop – this is a hard one to argue with.  If you have long had a desire to volunteer, contribute your talents to a worthwhile cause, start a values-based business – maybe this is your stop.

• Question:  Is this the best way for me to satisfy a desire to do good?  For some people, making a regular financial donation has a major impact and satisfies their need to make a difference.  For others, contributing their time is the ticket.

5. The “I Want to Spend More Time with My Partner/Grandkids” Stop – this is another good one.  Many of us have sacrificed time with our partners and families for work for too many years.

• Question:  What will it be like to actually have that much time with my family?  Does my partner want to spend that much time with me?  What happens when the grand-kids get older and are less interested in hanging out with their grandparents?

You may well have convincing answers to these questions.  The saying that nobody lies on their death bed and thinks “gee, I wish I had spent more time at work” is worth heeding!

“Keep working” is not the only answer.  In my view, the people who are happiest and most fulfilled in their older years are those that figure out where the fulcrum point of work and other pursuits lies.  Maybe there is a new business to start that also allows you to get off at one of these stops?

Beware the point that looks like your work stop.  Maybe it is, maybe it isn’t, but if it isn’t, it may be hard to find another train or destination that will carry you through the rest of your life in the way that you truly want.

This is a topic I love to discuss!  Give me a shout anytime you would like to mull it over!  linda@oglov.com.