Showing posts with label Work-life Balance. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Work-life Balance. Show all posts

December 15, 2019

The Best Jobs 2020 and Beyond

So I saw a smart video about which are the best jobs.

They are not the ones that just pay the most!

Here are the three criteria to look for in your next dream job (aside from the money):

1) Autonomy - Work that is self-directed provides satisfaction that jobs that are closely or micro-managed do not. 

2) Mastery - Jobs that allow you get better at them over time  (technical proficiency) provide a sense of mastery and self-respect. 

3) Purpose - When you have a deep sense of purpose and meaning from your work there is simply no greater motivator and satisfier than this. 

I'd also add that the best places to work are the ones with:
  •  The best bosses and the nicest people
  •  A solid balance for work and life

Overall, if we can reconnect the profit motive with the purpose motive then we have truly have the best jobs out there. ;-)

(Credit Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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December 11, 2019

What I Want to Be When I Grow Up (LOL)

After all the work is said and done...

And there is still so much more that I earnestly hope and pray to accomplish with my life.

Perhaps, then, when I am all grown up, I can have some time to be a sun bum too. 

Everyone deserves a little fun. ;-)

(Credit Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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July 24, 2019

Excellence Vs. Mediocrity

So we all know how hard it can be to get ahead.  

The long hours, hard work, and grueling repetition to try to reach near-perfection. 

Even then, of course, we need G-d's mercy and blessings and a measure of good luck to succeed. 

Also, by definition, not everyone can be "the best" at everything. 

I suppose the expectation for most people is that they try at least to excel at the things that they need to do or are most important to them, as well as maintain work-life balance. 

In this light, it was interesting to hear a story recently about mediocrity (and not excellence). 

When asked to step up on the job, one person responded in the negative saying:
C's get degrees (too)!

Of course, this must have sounded pretty shocking and off-putting. 

In other words, they weren't going for the "A" or even a "B".  A "C" grade was fine for them--as long as they didn't completely fail with a big "F".

Who knows what circumstances may have led this person to settle for mediocrity--just wanting to pass.

Perhaps they had serious personal or family issues--and had good reason to be taking a step back (for a while). 

But I think there could also be more tactful ways to say it too--like explaining if there were mitigating or challenging circumstances in their life right now. 

If there really wasn't mitigating circumstances and the person was just "slacking off" or didn't care, one has to wonder why--are they just "milking the system" or is there something more fundamentally wrong?

C's get degrees, but to me the real question is: Are you doing your best given your particular life circumstances?  ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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January 29, 2019

How Some People Cope With Stress



Thought this was incredible. 

Someone opened up a "Rage Room" in Maryland. 

I know the atmosphere in D.C. is polarized and sort of toxic lately, and there is lot's of identity politics, obstruction, and even people hating on each other, but this really shows how things have degenerated.

And let's face it, it's not just the politics that people are stressed out about--how about stress from family, work, and bills.  We're on 24/7 these days and a lot of stress can build up in people that way. 

But now, people can actually pay money to go to into a room, wrap themselves in safety clothing, and spend their time smashing things. 

Almost like when they put crazy people in a padded room in a straight jacket and let them hit their heads against the wall for a while. 

In the Rage Room:

You can break 10 glass items for just $25!

Or throw in a medium printer in the starter pack and it's $35. 

You can even BYOB (Bring Your Own Breakables) and have at it for $15.

Group packages and even gift cards are available. 

Fun maybe, a little crazy for sure. ;-)
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July 31, 2018

Lunch And A Call

This just seemed like a funny photo to me.

In the cafeteria, someone was checking out at the register. 

And on their lunch/food tray, they had, of course, their lunch. 

But also, they had a big black telephone.

Talking about a working lunch!

Wow, is that customer service or what? lol

This reminded me also of the BIG red phone on some top officials' desks --always ready for that critical call in case of near world catastrophe.

So here we go Joe... 

I will eat my lunch and am ready for your call at any time. ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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June 24, 2018

Longing For The Slow and Happy Bungalow Days

So I used to hear from my wife about when she was young and went to the bungalow colony in the Catskill Mountains.

And today, I heard from a wonderful young Ukrainian woman whose family does the equivalent in the mountains there in the summer. 

When I listen to the stories, it sounds so good to get away with your family and friends for the summer to the countryside. 

Just live simply in a cabin, stay up late by the campfire singing songs, get up lazily in the morning, and during the day play sports, go fishing, and swim in the lake. 

I can't imagine talking 3 months a year and actually being able to do this...so natural, so carefree, so back to living!

Yes as kids, we went to camp, but it's not the same as living communally like this in such freedom and fun. 

Honestly, listening to the stories about this, left me amazingly jealous!

Perhaps, it's a lesson about life these days...we're adults, we're responsible, we have to earn a living and take care of the bills and all of life's responsibilities. 

But maybe, just maybe, there is something--a lot--to be said for letting loose a little, and just being with your loved ones, and living, really living again. 

Why do we have to wait until we're old...too old to work anymore...and maybe too old to appreciate life as life was meant to be.  

We can't run from our responsibilities but isn't it worth looking for ways in life to enjoy more than a long weekend or a week vacation.

Life is too short to let it get away from us. 

Balancing the contributions of our hard labor with the enjoyment of family, friends, and fun...those are the memories that last a lifetime and beyond. 

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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November 10, 2017

Mechanisms for Coping With Stress

Just reflecting on the day off today on helpful ways for being resilient and coping with day-to-day stress. 

1. Teamwork - Remember you're not alone and you can rely on your colleagues/teammates at work and your family/friends at home to work with you, help you, and also be a support. Together, when you distribute the weight, the load is lighter and more manageable for everyone doing the lifting! 

2. Work-Life Balance - Listen, all work and no play is good for no one. When you create a healthy balance in your own life--professional, emotional, intellectual, social, physical, and spiritual--then you will be more balanced, holistic, and better able to manage the ups and downs in any one or more areas of your life. The whole of you is larger than the sum of the parts!

3. Perspective - You've got to maintain a healthy perspective and attitude in life. All is not doom and gloom. Not every setback is catastrophic. There is good and bad in everything. And we need to use the challenges in life as learning and growth opportunities. Also, remember that there are many others in even worse shoes than us and their fortitude and seeing it through can be an inspiration to us. At the end of the day, look at the bright side--we all have so much to be grateful for, and every moment of life is a blessing!

4. Sense of Humor - When all else fails, a sense of humor can sometimes be the savings grace of the moment. When you're looking out over the abyss and you are seeing things dark and maybe quite ugly...perhaps, you can find in yourself, in others, or from a moment in time, something ridiculous or absurdly funny to think back on and laugh to yourself a good, strong, and healthy laugh!

5. Faith - No matter what...G-d is always there for you. Always watching. Always guiding. Always caring and loving you. You can have faith that whatever He does for you is ultimately for your best. The G-d of your forefathers/mothers, the G-d who created you, the G-d who sustains you every moment of every day will not abandon you in your time of need. If you have faith, He will protect and save you and after your amazing life's journey eventually comes to an end, He will bring you home to reunite with Him!

On my Bar-Mitzvah, now many years ago, my father gave a speech and he said to me from the prayers, be strong and remember:

"The L-rd is with me, I will not fear!" (or in Hebrew "Adonai li v'lo ira")

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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August 12, 2017

Wide Load @McDonald's

I took this photo passing a McDonald's. 

It just seemed so perfect.

With this SUV parked right between the McDonald's arches.

And on the SUV are two red warning flags sticking out from the sides with a sign on top that says: 
"Wide Load" 
And in the McDonald's window is a smiley face and a $2.99 Happy Meal special. 

With the "fast food" unhealthy eating culture that McDonald's has so long represented, what is there really to smile about except the cheap fixings. 

If you eat at McDonald's too much or too long then like Morgan Spurlock in the documentary "Super Size Me," who ate nothing but McDonald's for 30 days and gained almost 25 pounds and felt crappy...unfortunately the sign "Wide Load" may be descriptive of what can happen.   

This isn't a dig at McDonald's per se (there are many fast food joints and things that we know aren't necessarily good for us)...moderation in life is really key. 

Healthy eating, exercise, mindfulness, work-life balance, and generally taking good care of yourself is not just a nice to have, but important to our well-being.

Genetics aside, it's the "Battle of the Bulge," and it's a lifelong pursuit to be healthy 

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal) 
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January 2, 2017

Can You Do No Right?

Do you ever feel like you can do no right?

That whatever you do or choose, you are opening yourself up to criticism by others or more importantly from yourself.

That's because in life every moment is a choice and each selection of what you do with your time and efforts means by definition that you are not doing something else important then.

- Take the mother or father who chooses to spend time raising their children, but then are not focused as much on their career.

- Take the student who is working really hard on getting those good grades and SAT scores, but then are not doing as much or well with extracurricular activities like sports or socializing. 

- Take the spiritual or religious person or clergy who chooses to focuses their life studying and performing holy speech and deeds but not so much other earthly and material matters. 

- Take the athlete who works out and eats right focusing on toning and honing their body and physical skills but doesn't spend as much time and effort on intellectual interests or more standard career pursuits. 

- Take the extrovert who focuses on building and maintaining relationships and networks--family, friends, community, colleagues, others--but are not putting the same time and attention to enhancing their other knowledge, skills, and abilities. 

So you say, but why can't we just do everything we're supposed to do, and simply balance?

Well, that is what we all try to do in our own way, but still each time and every moment you are doing one thing, you are not at that moment doing something else or being somewhere else. 

So that causes tension, perhaps a tug-of-war within ourselves, stress, and even guilt. 

The impact is that we often run from one thing to another or we get distracted in what we are doing--"Honey can you answer the phone?"

Some classic examples are when we race home from the office to pick the kids up from school or while playing with sweet little Johny or Suzie, the phone rings and and we have to pick up that call from the boss at work. 

As they say, you can't be--physically or mentally--in two places at the same time!

Hence, now the movement for mindfulness, being in the moment and focused.

But as the demands in life forever ask more of us--even amidst ever greater technology and automation to assist us--somehow we can never do enough because of course, the bar gets raised for ourselves and the competition gets tougher from those who make choices to focus on specific areas that we are not as much. 

So say that you are splitting your time between work and family, but someone else is single or doesn't have kids and they are full in with work, staying late, going in weekends, getting those extra credentials, and just putting in every extra effort there...well, how do you think you will stack up?

Yes, some of us recognize the importance of work-life balance and even focusing incrementally across the many important areas of our life: physically, spiritually, emotionally, intellectually, and socially.

Never-the-less every moment, in a time- and space-bound world, we are forced to choose this or that. 

There is no one right answer for everyone!

And every choice in every moment is the opportunity for you to criticize yourself or for others to criticize you that you weren't paying attention, focused, doing your best, etc.

But who cares--it's our life to live and we can live it as we want?

True, however as inevitably important things or relationships break down or fail, have mistakes or errors, or aren't going as we would ultimately want or dream they should--we ask ourselves, could we have done things differently or somehow managed our time, efforts, and focus better.

(Source Photo: Online Advertisement provided by Dannielle Blumenthal)
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November 24, 2016

Appreciating Employees @ Holiday Time

So before the holidays, like Thanksgiving, many nice organizations try to do a little something for their employees and let them go home a little early.

It’s a small something that let’s people know they are appreciated, and on top of it, they get to “beat the traffic.”

I heard from someone that one organization was stopping this long time practice, saying that only the very head(s) of the chain of command, could do this for the people…but they didn’t.

Sort of “penny wise and dollar foolish” to take away that little spot-on giving to one’s staff. 

It’s goodwill, appreciation, and kindness that is especially appropriate before the holidays for hardworking and good people. 

One manager told me how their people especially looked forward to this little gesture, and often came to asking about it with such joy.

So the manager told me that they just said before holiday times, “I’m not looking what time you leave today.”

To me that sounded like genuine leadership, where people are not just treated as “human resources,” but instead “human capital”—something to invest in and not just something to use `willy nilly. ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

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August 1, 2016

Technology Hope For The Future

Ok, this gives me tremendous technology hope for the future. 

This 4-year old kid is working diligently on her smartphone, while her mom is shopping not far away in the clothing store at the mall. 

She didn't seem to care about the clothes hanging all around her or the fun in the mall or really anything else at all...she was content with her tech!

And while I certainly believe in work-life balance and in kids being able to really jsut be kids, there was just something so amazing about the promise of technology, especially for those who are now growing up with it. 

After all, it was very cute how intent this kid was with all the technology power right in the palm of her hands, and I could easily see a budding CIO in the making here. 

And of course, with even better and more capable technology in the future. 

Through technology and belief, we can find hope in the impossible. ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

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April 28, 2016

Take Your Family Issues To Work Day

So we all love Take You Child(ren) To Work Day.

It's a great idea to bond with our children and share our work life with them.

This way they know what mommy and daddy do and also a little of what work is like. 

But one of the funny things I noticed is how uncomfortable most parents seem with their kids around them in at work. 

They have this worried and kvetchy look on their face.

They are crossing boundaries between personal/family/home life and professional/work life. 

What is at once two-faces, two distinct roles is now combined for a single day a year. 

Perhaps personal problems from home and between family members is entering the workspace or the problems of work life is evident to your close family members. 

Maybe mommy or daddy really doesn't get along all the well with little Johnny or Rosie all the time or perhaps little Johnny or Rosie is not that perfect little kid you've been showing around in pictures and talking up in the office. 

Similarly, mommy or daddy may not be "all that" in the office that they come home and portray to their family about--that big management position and corner office could be just another run of the mill job and situated in a long row of cubicles deep this way and that. 

In any case, the barriers are being crossed and even if there have been no outright lies told and caught, different sides of the person that are typically kept separate and sacrosanct are converging and the alternate egos and varied personas come head-to-head.

The good news is that the organization usually gives the parents leeway to not really do any serious work when the kids are around for the day and to mostly schlep them to special kids' events in the workplace--everybody get to meet the CEO and have ice cream?

Thus, the unveiling of dual natures and embedded conflicts is kept to a manageable minimum, if not an uncomfortable merging of work and family life. ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal) 
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February 23, 2016

Work Is For Work

So when I saw 2 awesome colleagues bright and early in the morning standing in the hallway on the way into the office already talking about work--I said, "You guys are already talking shop?"

Now it happens that these 2 actually carpool in together...

So I asked, "Didn't you have enough time in the car to talk about this [business]?"

To which one person replied, "Oh no, we don't talk about our work in the car!"

At first it seemed funny that you would wait an hour's drive and not say what you have to about work and hold it until you just get in the door.

And then after a split second--well of course, that's their time!

Work is for work. and free time is your personal time (for personal care, health, G-d, family, extra-curricular activities and interests, travel, etc.)

It's good to have some healthy separation--to mentally box them out and to keep each sacrosanct. 

We can live and work (not just "live to work") each in it's own rightful time and place and get the most done for our jobs, ourselves, and our families. ;-)

(Source Photo: here with attributio to AmatuerX)
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January 3, 2016

Forcing Kids Backfires Big Time

Fascinating article in the Sunday New York Times today on how the stress we are putting on our kids is making them sick. 

With testing of High school students showing incredibly alarming rates of mental illness:


- 54% with moderate to severe depression.


- 80%+ with moderate to severe anxiety.


And 94% of college counseling directors "seeing rising numbers of students with severe psychological problems."


Even pediatricians are reporting 5-, 6-, and 7-year olds coming in for migraines and ulcers!


Another teacher said with all this, "We're sitting on a ticking time bomb."


Under the pressure to get into great schools and get a foot in the door in excellent careers and attain high-paying jobs, we are making our kids work longer school days, do more homework, take more Advanced Placement (AP) exams, participate in numerous extracurricular activities, and achieve, achieve, achieve. 


We've taken away normal play time--the fun out of life growing up--and the imagination, exploration, and discovery away from kids just being kids. 


The paradox is that "the pressure cooker is hurting, not helping, our kid's prospect for success."


Especially for parents who themselves grew up poor or lacking, maybe they are trying to do the "right thing"and give their kids more than they had and a "better life."


But maybe even the best intentions to mold children to be what we want them to be, or think they should or could be, is misplaced.


If only we could all take a little (or BIG) chill pill...you can't force success--with forcing you get the opposite results.

Back off people--instead of pushing and endless disciplining--how about we listen to the children, guide them, show unconditional love, and be excellent examples--show them integrity, a strong work ethic, along with an appreciation for work-life balance, then perhaps we will get not only the success of the next generation that we all need, but also happier, better adjusted, and healthier children. ;-)


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

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January 1, 2016

Homesick or Heresick

It's funny, my dad used to tell a joke about not being homesick, but being heresick (wherever that "here" may be for somebody--they just want to get out of there)

Recently, at work though, I have found there are many people that don't want to go home at the end of the day--and it's not because they always still have so much work to do (although sometimes certainly they do). 

Yesterday, I asked someone at work--on New Years eve--what they were still doing there late in the day.

Someone with a fairly new baby at home, jokingly winced at me, and said something about it sometimes being better to stay a little later at work, because when he/she gets home, they start all over again with the spouse and kid(s)--like so many of us. 

It's strange to me, because I love and value home. 

And it's like the old rhetorical question about do you work to live or live to work. 

Just yesterday, in the Wall Street Journal, there was a book review about someone who opined about how home is where the heart is--and in anthropological terms--it's always been that way!

Home is our sanctuary, for ourselves and our beloved family, it is where we are "king of the castle," and where we do everything from shelter, comfort, reproduce, share, and generally love and care for each other. 

Yet, back to work, many people these days don't want to go home to crying babies and dirty diapers, nagging spouses and the evening fights, encroachment on private spaces, and errands galore (it's a 2nd job almost)--cooking, cleaning, shopping, laundry, and bills--or even just plain loneliness there. 

So people hang out at work--they schmooze, they snack, they Internet, they may go to workout, or they dilly and dally--just so they don't have to go home. 

As someone recently said to me, "It's quiet. I like it there. Nobody bothers me there."

They are homesick--not missing and yearning to be home, but some almost to the point of sick at the thought of going home. 

Work or anywhere else then becomes a refuge from the home that home is supposed to be. 

Sometimes it's just a temporary thing at home, sometimes it's more ongoing or permanent.

Everyone has a different home--for everyone it should be a true home. ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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December 24, 2015

Type A-nus

So it's the first full day of vacation in Florida.

And as it goes, you transition from the busy everyday world of work and chores to a more relaxing vacation mode...Ahhhh!

As I'm still transitioning, my wife says to me, "Stop your type A-ness."

Then we look at each other and start cracking up, because it sounds like she says "Type A-nus."

Okay 7-year olds, stop the silliness.

But maybe she is right, we need to pull our heads out of our asses, and look up at the sky, savor the warm sunshine on our faces, take a breath of fresh beautiful air, and just chill!

A-ness, or A-nus--either way, stop it and live free. ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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October 27, 2015

The Millennial Workplace

So a colleague from a law enforcement agency told a funny story the other day.

When he was an agent-in-training he said they told them, "Keep your eyes open and your mouths shut."

Basically, you are new--so watch and learn before you do something stupid and potentially get yourselves or someone else in trouble. 

But now as someone who been there for decades and is a supervisor, he was interviewing someone right out of school, and in the interview the kid says, "I want to be in charge!"

The difference from Generation X and the new Millennials couldn't have been starker. 

But what did this guy do, he didn't show the candidate to the door by his earlobes, but rather he ended up hiring him. 

Times have changed--not only with all the technology we use--but also in terms of people's expectations from the job.

What do people want these days--aside from good compensation and comprehensive benefits?

- Engagement through challenging and meaningful work that has tangible outcomes from day one

- Innovating and creating versus pushing paper and doing routine, repetitive work

- Using current and cutting-edge technology

- Opportunities to stay and advance or building the resume to "move out to move up"

- Lots of feedback, teamwork, sharing, and transparency

- Considerable work-life balance 

The bottom line is don't be surprised by the kid who wants to be in charge from the get-go, instead relish their gusto and unleash their talent in your organization--with guidance, they can do amazing things. 

It's not your fathers workplace anymore. ;-)

(Source Photo: here with attribution to g Tarded)
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March 17, 2015

Everyday, A Catch-22

I took this photo of this guys' cool Catch-22 bag on the Metro in Washington, D.C. yesterday. 

Catch-22 was made famous in the book of the said name by Joseph Heller.

Essentially a Catch-22 is an unsolvable problem.

In the book for example, military servicemen in WWII can apply for a discharge if they are verifiably crazy, but the sheer act of applying for a discharge shows you are not crazy. 

Other examples of a Catch-22 are locking your keys in the car and you can't unlock the door to get them or losing your glasses but now you can't look for them.

In life, it seems like we are constantly facing Catch-22's, however not solving them is not an option...we must come up with a workable solution.

At work and in school, we compete to get ahead, yet we must team, cooperate, and collaborate with those very same folks that we are competing with. 

At home with children, we need to teach our children often difficult lessons of right and wrong, patience, discipline, and safety, even while we have overflowing feelings of love for them and just want to hug them and give in to them. 

With spouses, as our love and lives build over the years, we grow together and become ever more interdependent on our partners, yet we need to maintain some healthy independence and self at the same time. 

With career, are we advance ourselves so that we can provide well for our families, we must balance work-life, so that we aren't just bringing home a paycheck, but are actually emotionally there for our loved ones. 

The list of life's conundrums goes on and on, but rather than throw up our hands in defeat, we have to fight on and come up with solutions that are best fit to the challenges we face...there is no discharge just because you feel crazed or need to confront something hard...you need to solve the dilema and then you can go home. ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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December 15, 2014

Motivate, BAM!

I took this photo of the wallpaper at the gym.

It has "motivate" embossed under the lady with the sparring gloves. 

They have similar hangings for swimming, weightlifting, cycling, and more around the fitness center.

I like them--they are motivational. 

Would be nice if the place also had some big windows, but this ain't bad to keep it fresh. 

BAM! Exercise. BAM! Stay healthy and fit. BAM!  ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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December 11, 2014

Finals Week

This was a funny (-sad) picture right outside the new Science and Engineering Building at the prestigious George Washington University today. 

It looks much like a noose and is lit up by the glass and modern finishes of this new building. 

So a colleague says jokingly to me "Is that because of [the stress of] finals week?"

Now execution and suicide are definitely not a laughing matter...

But what a juxtaposition of this gorgeous new building going up and the old time hangman's noose (almost) hanging down. ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal) 
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