Three Wishes For A 20-Something: Work Life Positivity Works For You

What three “gifts” would you give a 20-something if you were a “Forty-Godmother”? Here 40-somethings share three wishes to help a 20-something get a head start on the confidence to make decisions that are right for them (not their parents, friends, teachers or society). No more woulda, coulda, shoulda. 


Strive for work life positivity. If you love what you’re doing, you can find ways of making it work. If you’re miserable with what you’re doing, everything is hard. It’s the way a lot of people think about marriage or relationships; when the mom and dad have a good relationship and invest in it, it spills over to the children. So, if you are in a good relationship with your job, it spills over every aspect of your life.


Pay attention to the “fire in your belly”. Finding your passion is a layer by layer process that you learn with years. It doesn’t happen the year after you graduate. I never had an epiphany like, “Oh, this is it”! For me it’s been more about paying attention to the “fire in my belly” kind of feeling when I’m doing something that I really love. It’s taking note of that and saying, “Why do I love this so much? What is it about this?” The way that I phrase it in my book, is that it’s really about not what you want to be but the kinds of things you want to do.

For instance, I’m a strategic thinker so I love looking at connections between teams and organizations and thinking strategically. That particular skill set can be lifted and applied in gazillion different places, so it doesn’t mean that there’s any one profession for me. I could do a variety of different professions and find a lot of satisfaction. You can have passion for a lot of things but it’s really about what kinds of tasks do I enjoy engaging in. Is it with people? Is it on my own? Is it being creative? Is it being analytical?


Having a strong drive for work and achievement and flexibility can mix. When I was married, we tried the approach of the “backseat” role. For one person in the relationship to take a job with lesser responsibility to open up more free time to do the things that you want. So if you are living at the beach you have time to go surfing. I thought this is the way it’s supposed to be. I can come home more often. I’ve got the flexibility. I thought the route was if take less, you can have more.

It turns out that equation did not work for me at all. I was bored. I was stifled. I was passing up roles. I ended up getting a divorce and finding my voice again. I realized that being in a job is a huge part of my identity. I want to take on more responsibility. Now my work involves creating the best kind of flexibility, which is to be doing the work I love, to be challenging myself and to be trusted enough that I can negotiate all this time out outside of work to do the things like writing my book.

These three wishes are from an interview I did several years ago with Julie Clow, author of The Work Revolution, Freedom and Excellence for All, a book about increasing empowerment, and achieve better work-life blending and satisfaction. The books topic has only become more relevant since it publishes in 2012. Julie’s career has spanned organizational and people development from Google to an investment firm to a global luxury brand. I love her mission:  to help organizations maximize the engagement of individuals throughout the organization by shaping a positive organizational culture, providing growth opportunities, and rewarding the individuals that create the most impact.

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