If you’d like to take the challenge and design your career for the upcoming year, here are some suggestions.
If you’re an employee, spin your suggestions and ask WAY in advance.
If you are beholden to a micromanaging boss, my wishlist above may have made you laugh bitterly. I am sorry to hear this, and hope to help in some small way. Obviously, you have much less freedom to design your career within an office.
Harvard Business Review recently ran this post in which the writer suggested, you know, napping at your desk. Because your boss will obviously understand that all the latest research shows that napping is awesome for productivity. (It’s also true that neckties restrict blood flow to the brain, being barefoot stimulates blood flow to the brain, and wearing an “I smoke fat blunts” t-shirt makes you more creative, but good luck with that.)
A nap-friendly, barefoot office might be too much to ask, but in general, it is much easier to get the things you want if you ask in advance – way, way in advance. See this section from Bullish: Extreme Advance Planning for Very Smart Women for more on this topic.
For instance, if what you want is to work out mid-day and also take a long lunch – oh, what a luxury for an employee, and yet a totally reasonable way to refresh oneself for afternoon productivity – you might say, “I have realized that I would work better if I came in an hour earlier every morning and then took a longer break in the middle of the day, so I can come back from the gym with more energy and keep up peak productivity until 6.”
This suggestion – which obviously should be spun as a benefit to the company and a testament to your dedication in coming in early and staying until an appropriate hour – has a much greater chance of success if you ask now, for January, as you will then look like someone who possesses forethought, plans intelligently, and is not suffering from holiday-related burnout.
And if it seems that the things you want will never be compatible with your 9-to-5, at least a session of serious advance planning will make that clear. Why just drag along from day to day, lamenting what you don’t have, when you could outright declare your current situation unacceptable, and plan from there?
It’s when things are bad – but not so bad that breaking away is the only choice – that people stay stuck and unhappy for years, or lifetimes.
Don’t know what you want?
I talked in previous columns about defining your values – see Bullish: Maybe You’re Not Actually a Lazy Procrastinator and Bullish Life: How to Make Better Decisions. You might also enjoy the recent Bullish: Cultivating a Career When You Have Too Many Choices.
It turns out, my values include living elegantly, which to me includes having very clean hardwood floors and precisely folded white hand towels (like a hotel!) These things need some time reserved for them.