The essential step to designing a life you want

In the world of work, there’s a balance in being open to opportunities and acting with intent.

Last week, I spent some time listening to the Women at Work podcast from Harvard Business Review. The episode Couples that Work helped me think about the career world in which I live.

The research presented in the podcast highlights how much is changing in our expectations of partnership and marriage. Jennifer Petriglieri, a professor at INSEAD, provided one of the most useful suggestions for navigating dual-careers and family life.

“And then the third thing is to take the time, you know, again, this doesn’t need to be every day. It doesn’t need to be every week. But take the time every so often to have those preemptive conversations. What is it we’re aiming for individually and together? What is it that’s going to make us thrive? And what choices might we need to make to make that happen? Because all too often, a decision sort of comes upon us, and we’re trying to make the decision at the same time as figuring out what we want, and at the same time as figuring out how that’s going to fit in with each other. And that’s when the conflicts really rise. So if we can take that time, even if it’s just twice a year, to really sit down and think about what we want, and this isn’t like 15 years in the future planning. It might just be the next year or two years. But like, what’s coming up, and how are we going to make this work together before we get to that firefighting phase, that would be exceptional.”

I’ve realized recently that for my entire career I’ve operated with a ‘fear of missing out’ attitude. I’ve said ‘yes’ when I would’ve said ‘no’ if I’d actually had the career map that Petriglieri references. In my professional and personal life, I’m still growing in my own reconciliation with the fact that there is abundance (of opportunity, of resources, of time) rather than famine. When an opportunity has been offered, I’ve taken it out of fear that it will never be offered again.

It’s a fine line.

Spend some time with yourself, with your partner (if applicable), and think about what you want. What will make you thrive? What choices might you need to make in order for that to happen?

You’ll be one step closer to living the life you want.

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