One thing that college graduates find hard to imagine is how much their career will consume them. Maintaining balance between work and family will be one of the toughest struggles you will face. The struggle may not appear for a few years, but once your career takes off you will find it hard to achieve a proper balance.
Here are some suggestions for how to maintain the balance between work and family.
- Establish family goals when you do your performance review each year. During you annual performance review, you and your boss will assess areas of strength and areas that need to be improved. Develop a comparable process for your personal life. Evaluate your personal life performance and determine areas that need to be improved.
- Establish some family activities that you make a commitment to that will not be voided no matter what. Develop the mindset of an alcoholic who knows that one drink can lead to one more and one more and so on. When you miss a family commitment, than the next one becomes easier to miss and before long your family commitments are completely consumed by work.
- Build “family capital” on the job. When your job performance is outstanding, your organization will be more understanding when you place a family commitment first. How do you build family capital? Family capital is built by:
- A strong work ethic
- A record of real contributions
- A strong support for others
- Be selective in those business activities you do that are primarily social. At some point, every night and many weekends can be consumed by dinners, receptions, and related activities. Some of these are very important for your career, but you need to be able to say no to these activities that not as critical.
- Assess where you want your career to go. Do you want to continue on the upward track when that means even more family sacrifices? At some point, you may want to get off the fast track and find a career direction that is more family-supportive.
- Realize that biology will trump all other issues when you think of work/family issues. The time in your life when your career is most likely to become most consuming is when you are 25-35 years of age. This is also the time when you are most likely to have the greatest family commitments. (e.g. marriage, young children)
Most college graduates will say that they will never let their career consume them but it often does. Maintaining this balance will be tough. .