How To Design Your Ideal WorkLife

Begin By Thinking about What You’re Doing When You’re Completely Engaged and Build More of This into Your Day

Photo by Aaron Burden on Unsplash

What is it you find yourself doing when you’re completely engrossed and the time just passes by and you have to remind yourself to stop to eat and before you know it the morning has turned into evening and you can still continue with what you’re doing into the night?

For me, lately, it’s writing, and I say lately as I suppose part of me still wonders, despite having now written 100s of stories and published 29 books, if this is just a passing phase and if my thought process will dry up one day.

Why do I want to write? Because as Colin Firth said in his role as George V1 in the ‘Kings Speech, I have a voice, and I’m discovering writing to be a great expression of that. Being the reflective soul, I am, writing is a more natural medium for me to get my thinking out there, as opposed to impromptu speaking– as Mark Twain once said, “it takes me three weeks to prepare for an impromptu speech.”

My professional and personal development is important to me, as I expect it is for many people. For some of you, it will be an important perk of the job, i.e. you’re fortunate that support to continue to progress and develop your WorkLife is part of your reward package.

However, what do you do if the training budget has been frozen, or like me, you need to fund your own learning and development, or you want to develop skills for something you aspire to do in the future and can’t get buy-in from your HR department to approve this because they can’t see how it will support you in your current role and actually you don’t really want them to know about it anyway.

The good news is there are ways to gain skills that will serve you in progressing your WorkLife path in the direction of your choice, and this can be done in a manner that fits into your WorkLife and is cost-effective.

For example, once I knew I wanted my next WorkLife chapter to be about supporting individuals in their WorkLife learning and development (In a previous life, I worked in Investment Banking), I undertook studies in Career Coaching and Career Management at Birbeck University.

This was a significant investment, but knowing the work I aspired to do, I knew to be able to support others, I needed a good theoretical foundation that I could then personalise to my client needs. This has led me to where I am, and I’m thoroughly enjoying my client work and learn so much through my clients.

And so, to continue my own learning and development and move my WorkLife in the direction I want to, I’ve identified that I want to develop my research and development skills along with my writing skills. For the moment, I’m not going to invest in any specific training to do this, but instead, I’m adapting a hands-on approach of just getting stuck in and building a little of this into my day/week.

The purpose of this is to become a specialist in my area by staying up to date with what’s going on in my industry and discovering new ways of doing things and, as a result, be able to support my clients in a manner that draws on expertise, is fresh, interesting, creative, innovative and fun.

Other areas I want to develop are my technical ability and my marketing skills — in the past, I have to admit to being a little phobic about technology. So, to facilitate this development need, I built my first websites, and I’m learning all about social media, and I have to say I’m really enjoying it. Of course, it’s a double whammy because, along the way, I’m developing my business and my business skills — so a win/win, really.

If I can do it, so can you. Just think about what you’re doing when you’re completely engaged and build more of this into your day and think about the skills you want to develop, and you’ll find ways to take a hands-on approach to make this happen.

And what if, as an aspiring writer, my thought process does dry up, and I develop writer’s block, as they say? Well, that’s when the romantic side of me kicks in. I think I’ll take myself off to a beautiful location, perhaps a French or Italian home that has a vineyard for a backyard… My creative juices are sure to flow once more — or it might just seem that way a vintage or two later!

I first shared this story some years ago on my original, now-defunct blog: Evolving Careers Players. I’ve adapted it, and I’m sharing it again because I believe it’s as relevant today and it was all those years ago.

Published by Carmel O' Reilly

Carmel O’ Reilly: WorkLife Learning Practitioner & Writer Author of WorkLife Book Club, Your WorkLife Your Way and The School of WorkLife book series. Created to help you manage your WorkLife Learning. Blogger & Podcaster: Telling people’s powerful stories about WorkLife challenges & successes Founder of My guiding statement is to help people pursue their WorkLives with greater clarity, passion, purpose and pride by creating continuous WorkLife learning programmes that are accessible to everyone.