How to create a working life you don’t want to escape from

Is your career (and your manager) zapping your energy? Then you might be doing it all wrong. Here are six ways to help you create a working life you don’t want to escape from.

Is your career (and your manager) zapping your energy? You’re not alone. The results from our 2018 Global Executive Wellbeing Report revealed that six in 10 executives don’t want to turn up to work on Mondays and seven in 10 don’t have enough energy to meet the demands of their day. Yet very few do something about it until they burn out. I get it, I really do – because I’ve been there myself. In 2012, after working in London, New York City, Asia, and Australia to deliver over £3 billion to Fortune 500 companies like Unilever, Nestle, and Pepsi Co, I burnt out in spectacular fashion. After rebuilding my life, becoming a World Champion sailor and finding my passion as a high-performance coach helping senior executives fall in love with Monday and make money. I started the research that would inform my Global Executive Wellbeing Report. My goal was to understand the root causes of career and life dissatisfaction and do something about it. I took a career sabbatical and wrote the best-selling book ‘Smart Girls Screw Up To – The no-nonsense guide to create the life you want’ to give people the tools to create a working life and overall life they don’t want to escape from.

Here are seven things to consider to help you create a working life you don’t want to escape from

1.    Love your manager

Your relationship with your manager is the most important relationship you have outside of your romantic relationships. If there’s love and deep respect, it’s roses. If it’s not, your life can be hell and your career could be jeopardised. When choosing a manager (or continuing to) here’s seven things to consider:

·     Do you have similar values and care about you as a person?

·      Do they put yours and the team’s best interests at heart?

·      Do they elevate you and your results?

·      Do you trust them, and do they listen to you?

·      Do they listen and take on feedback?

·      Do they model flexible work practices in reality?

·      Do they make themselves available to you and support your development?

2.    Love your work environment and the people in it

One of the most predominant questions I get asked is “why doesn’t my work environment feel right for me anymore?”.  Don’t worry, you’re not alone, seven in 10 don’t like their work environment. The truth is you’ve grown and the environment and the people in it haven’t. You’re breathing in the same recycled air they are, the same belief systems and values that simply don’t align with what’s important to you. If your energy is being sucked away when you tap into the gates, it’s time to find a better environment or actively change the one you’re in (if you’ve seen some success of that in the past).

3.    Love the cause you’re working for

I’m talking about the real ‘why’ behind what you do here. The thing that gets you out of bed on Monday morning.  Don’t worry if you don’t know, eight in 10 have no clear vision for their life or career, but those that do earn up to nine times more across their lifetime and feel great doing so.  Be aware of the double whammy, a lack of personal and professional vision and following an organisation’s vision that grates at your values and (soul). This breeds sickness and burnout. Life’s too short to spend it feeling ordinary and working for a cause you don’t believe in, so if you’ve stopped believing or didn’t start believing do yourself a favour and get the hell out of dodge.

“Work for a cause, not applause. Live life to express, not to impress”. Unknown

4.    Love your lifestyle

One of the top drivers of career satisfaction is your ability to blend your work and life in a way that suits your (and your family’s) lifestyle. Creating a career you don’t want to escape from starts with designing and planning for the lifestyle you desire. To give yourself a kickstart ask yourself how would you like to spend your working day, who are you working with, on what causes and where are you doing it? Compare this to what you’re doing now and begin to create an action plan to achieve it. Even if it takes five years (it’s taken me that long!) you’re setting yourself up for the next 20 to 30 years of your career and that’s something to be excited about.

5.    Love your numbers (and savings plan)

Seven in 10 fear that not having enough money stops them from pursuing what they really want to do. That means there’s a lot of people are sitting on their hands (and their unique gifts and talents) because they’re not planning the money stuff. Most senior executives I’m supporting with a career strategy are planning their career pivot two years in advance before they crash and burn or are so disengaged they become apathetic (it’s not an attitude you want when taking your next career steps). These people pay attention to the financial scenarios as much as their ideas. They save up to fund courses to skill themselves up, they create side hustles or use their salary to fund their ideas as they test and learn. They have also got clear on what they’re prepared to trade off and what they’re not and they create their next steps from that place.

6. Be clear of your tradeoffs and non-negotiables

Before you quit your job, register that business name, write the business plan, collaborate with someone or pitch to an investor, I want you to get comfortable — real comfortable — with what you’re willing to trade off in pursuit of your dream. And then I need you to write another list of things that you’re not willing to trade off. This list should include money, time off, working rhythms, subject matter, the environment, access to credit etc

7.    Love and nurture your health

Seven in 10 executives say they don’t have enough energy to meet the demands of their day.  Much like loving our numbers, loving our health means we’re ensuring our number one asset – our energy – to enable sustainable performance and financial outcomes. You might be one of the six in 10 experiencing a gut, hormonal or sleep health issue that’s having a profound impact on your mental health and stress levels. Getting back to basics and diarising practices to support your energy, like a morning and evening tech-free routine (you can let those 5,000 marketing messages you see a day hit you after 9 am), is essential if you want to be sustainable in the long term in your career.

You can take the free life audit here, or If you’re in London on the evening of the 24th of September join the Escape team and come along to Bella’s book launch and enjoy a campfire discussion between Bella and Matthew Trinetti about designing a career and vision you love. Tickets are available here. Use the code ESCAPE for a discount.

Bella was a Founding Member of our Escape School in August 2014. To join her in taking control of your career and finding work you love, learn more here.

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