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So, how is your career/life going right now?

I always thought that my job was my work, and my work defined my life. When someone asked me what I did for a living, I just said, “I am a teacher” or “I am a Vice-Principal” or “I am a Principal” depending on the relevant stage in my life. I never really used in any regular way in my language nor thought in my mind about the concept of ‘career’. I did not connect my job or my work to the concept of ‘career’.

When I became a Director of Instruction, one of my portfolio responsibilities became Career Programs, something that is obvious from above that I only vaguely understood and half-heartedly supported off the side of my desk while I was Principal of a large secondary school.

Then early in my new role, I had the good fortune to hear Michael J. Ballingall, Senior Vice-President of Sales and Marketing at Big White, speak to a group of our senior students at a tourism conference about the importance of his choices in his career.

I remember him telling the students that he could do his work anywhere in the world, but yet he chose to work in Kelowna. He explained to the students that it wasn’t the work that kept him in Kelowna. Instead, what kept Ballingall at Big White was the combination, integration and the balance of his work, with the learning opportunities presented in his company and the community, his relationships - both personal and professional, and his active, outdoor lifestyle. These were all best served in concert by doing his job at Big White in Kelowna.

For the first time, I understood that the concept of “Career” meant more than just what I did for work. Career was a combination, integration and balancing of my work and job, with my learning and leadership opportunities, the variety of relationships which my work afforded me, and the type of lifestyle choices that were now at my doorstep. Later I added, health, (spiritual, emotional, social and physical) in to the mix of how I defined career.

As I looked at this confluence of these five career components, I still felt something was missing in the concept of the word ‘career’. Together, these five words defined not just what I did for work, they defined what I did with my ‘life’. Thus, was born, “Career/Life Programs” in the Central Okanagan School District. That the Province of BC through the Ministry of Education’s new career initiative this year has adopted similar language, I guess validates the thinking.

The career/life slides (below) reflect the importance of each of these five components of career/life. Each slide representing a component asks a question to people about being engaged and balanced in their attention to each of these important parts of what defines a career.

I usually ask people to rate their personal satisfaction out of 10 with each of these five separate components (the job, their learning, their lifestyle, their relationships and their health) as they are functioning in their lives at the present time. I then playfully ask them to average their component scores into one global score out of 10 to reflect on how balanced they are in their careers at that time. The reality is that we are rarely perfectly balanced, and yet recognizing where we are out of balance at any one time, allows us to monitor and adjust our career/life for better harmony.

So, how is your career/life going right now?


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