Sep 26, 2018 - by Kurt Heinrich (

When you transition to a new role in work or life, be it taking on a new job or becoming a parent, your daily schedule and priorities can be thrown into a tizzy..

It can feel overwhelming and this feeling can add stress, impacting both your ability to perform at work and be satisfied at home. I recently started a new job the same day as my wife. We have both found the past two months grueling and exhilarating. To manage my workload and stay happy (and sane) I’ve looked at setting a series of principles to guide me through this time of change. Here are three principles that are providing me with a lodestar as I struggle to be a good boss, good colleague, good friend and a great family member.
Prioritize the personal
It’s both easy and tempting to let work subsume you – particularly when you are starting a new career chapter. It’s critical to not lose sight of your personal passions (for me that’s cooking, cycling with my family, quiet coffees on Commercial Drive) and ensure you are finding time for those simple things. Intentionally block off time in your calendar to allow you to focus on these things. Discuss with your partner to ensure they are aligned. Consider prohibiting work on weekends (except in extreme situations). Some organizations have team or company charters to support a positive team environment including work/life balance. Maintaining personal time will help you de-stress and better attack your work in the medium and long term. Your future self will thank you.
Look past your problems
In transition, there will be plenty of stress points. Things will go off the rails and you will no doubt make mistakes. It’ll suck. But don’t forget you will get through it. When facing significant pressure, it’s crucial to look beyond the day to day at the bigger picture. There a bunch of ways you can do this. Week to week, set aside some time for reflection. This will give you distance to learn from both the hard things and week’s successes. When you are in the middle of an issue – never forget to ask yourself this question: Will I truly care about this problem a year from now? It’s likely that you won’t. And of course cultivate and lean on mentors and colleagues around the office or in your professional circles to provide additional perspective and a place (when needed) to vent. Finally, work in celebration of successes into your routines so that you aren’t just spending energy on your problems.
Decide how much you can give to your job
As you climb the ladder as well as in larger organizations or companies, you must sink or swim in a highly independent environment. If your boss is not present day to day, it can be easy to be overwhelmed by competing requests and demands coming from all over the place. I’m someone who naturally likes to find a way to say “yes”. This has served me well in the past, but I’m keenly aware that always saying yes to all the incoming requests might not be the best strategy for long term survival. Setting clear internal parameters for yourself and communicating those to others where necessary is key. After all, it’s much better to let someone know that you’re unable to attend that early morning meeting because you’ve got to do childcare drop off than to simply decline it without reason. Or, even worse, take the call and do a terrible job of both things at the same time because you are distracted. Being clear with yourself on what lines you won’t cross is crucial. Ultimately, make sure that whatever you decide on is sustainable, set a timeline to re-evaluate and then stick with it till then.

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