For most, the unicorn that is a fantastic work-life balance is nothing but a myth or bucket of gold at the end of the rainbow. This is especially true to those who work the 9-to-5, only imagining what it’d be like to take an hour-and-a-half lunch, not worry about talking time off work for a quick trip to the dentist, or who would love the opportunity to sleep in just one day a week and compensate for it later.
The reality of most amazing jobs with solid work-life balance ratings is that you either have to enter these careers or shift careers entirely as the possibility of creating a better work-life balance at your own job is something that is more unlikely than asking your boss if you can come in at 10 and leave at 6.
Generational Gaps and Work-Life Desires
While we all have our own idea of what we’d like to do if we could rearrange our schedules so that we could get in a little more “me” time, there are some trends that each generation values that you might identify with. For example, the oldest generation of employees, the Baby Boomers, are likely to value the flexibility to take time off to deal with health issues, care for aging relatives or spend time with grandchildren.
The X and Y generations grew up with technology and are accustomed to multi-tasking, something that lends to their desire to want a lot of variety in their work. These generations are generally more independent and less committed to their employers, especially those who don’t see the importance of a work-life balance in the workplace.
In fact, a report published by the Office of the President titled Work-Life Balance and the Economics of Workplace Flexibility found that careers with more work-life balance are strongly correlated to reduced employee turnover as well as increased employee productivity, furthering showcasing the importance of employers to invest in quality-of-life standards.
That said, understanding that you want more flexibility in the workplace is not the same as understanding how that translates into your new profession. These below three tips will help to shed some light on how to choose a job with great work-life balance.
- Identify what your greatest personal commitments are then find a job
Before you can begin to target a career that is accommodating to the type of work-life balance you are after, you need to identify what your greatest personal commitments are and the kinds of restrictions that are non-negotiable for you.
For example, if you commute a long way to work perhaps the ability to telecommute is valuable to you as is the ability to work remotely. If a flexible schedule is most important to you, an employer who is aligned with that type of accommodation would be a great find. A 4-day work week, maternity leave, paid time off or having an employee wellness program may also be attractive.
Once you familiarize yourself with the specific areas you want balance in only then can you find the most ideal profession for your wellbeing.
- Understand that compromise is likely for improved work-life balance
It is possible that you’ll find a job that checks off all of your requirements for work-life balance and allows you to get the pay you want with the flexibility that is so important to you. However, this is not the norm and most careers that offer more flexibility will also require additional compromises from you.
For example, the quality of life of personal trainers was rated amongst the highest of all professionals in America. These fitness professionals enjoy lots of personal satisfaction, low stress, heaps of flexibility and are regarded as a benefit to society. However, this unconventional career also comes with compromises. Some career sites place the median salary of personal trainers as high as $55,400 while some struggle to bring in anything over $30,000.
What things are you willing to compromise for your flexibility?
- Consider the transitionary period for a potentially new career
According to an article by Forbes on The Best Jobs for Work-Life Balance, the top five jobs were Data Scientist, SEO Specialist, Tour Guide, Life Guard and Social Media Manager. For someone looking to make a completely new career change, the educational requirements of say, a Data Scientist, SEO Specialist or Social Media Manager might prove discouraging.
On the other hand, the considerably low barrier of entry of a Tour Guide and the minimal training required for some types of Life Guard positions may make these professions more attractive. However, the paygrades of these jobs (Tour Guides average $26,020 and Life Guards $21,000) may be a sacrifice for some who are looking for careers in the six-figure range.
Create the Best Work-Life Balance for You
The first step in deciding what type of career will be best for infusing more flexibility into your life is determining what use of your time is non-negotiable. Understanding that if you want the type of flexibility that allows you to have extremely varied working hours may mean that you are compromising in other areas may help you to be better-prepared for what the opportunities may or may not be. Finally, consider that any new career will likely entail the need for additional education, certifications or training and how that may influence your decision.
Eddie Lester is a NASM-certified personal trainer and the founder of Fitness Mentors, a personal trainer education website that prepares trainers for certification exams.