Career mindfulness: How to build a healthy career-life

I’ve spent a good bulk of my life building on my career experiences and growing as a person. Your career is always ahead of you, but the things that are both behind and ahead of you are family, friends, purpose, health, personal satisfaction, and a host of other factors to life. The state of your career is thus critical to the state of your health and happiness, so be sure to invest in it the right way. Here, I’ve distilled some points to keep in mind through your career—and life—so that the status quo is a healthy one.

Always be fair, honest, and respectful to other candidates

The world is smaller than you think. Fellow students you compete with for jobs today may be valuable contacts at other employers tomorrow when you need it most (especially if you’re working at a firm that can suddenly collapse like Bear Stearns or Lehman Brothers in 2008).

“Flash” job search

Flash trading practices in investment banking make use of large numbers of small trades to make a big impact. Do the same with your job search. Break it down into little bits and think about small sections when you have the time. For example, you could draft one bullet on a résumé at a time while waiting for the subway. Or search up some job postings between bus stops or train stations. Or connect with people on LinkedIn and find out what they do. Waiting in line and sitting on public transport to get from one place to another provides a good opportunity for quiet thinking: Most of this document was drafted while standing in the Jakarta airport immigration line, for example.

Invest the time to own your career

You spend a lot of time at work so it is in your personal interest to enjoy it. Too many people under-invest time to manage their career and under-optimize their career and happiness as a result. You can only optimize your career and work life balance if you own your career – it can’t be outsourced to a career office or executive recruiter. Again, plan for the career that allows you to grow, be challenged, and be happy.

Be vocal and patient

Your superiors won’t be able to give you what you want unless they know what you want. You need to tell them at the right time in the right manner what is important to you (e.g. an overseas assignment), but you also need to be patient and give them time (can be several months or years). Plan ahead and be crystal clear about what you want before proposing a plan to your superiors. Always engage to make sure your goals and expectations are aligned.

Consider the inside job

An internal transfer can be easier to accomplish with lower risk for similar benefits. Build your network at work and connect with different people so that you get a better idea of the job scope, culture, and pros and cons of other positions in your company.

Review your career options annually

Doesn’t mean you do a search or interview, but consider your work and life happiness. Every 5 years or a big life change (i.e. marriage, children) do a major career review. You want to make sure the elements of your life suit that of your career.


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