The Early Career Quest for Balance

In Rainesford Stauffer’s compelling book, “An Ordinary Age,” she delves into the challenges young adults encounter as they strive to shape the lives they envision amidst the pressures of demanding careers and personal aspirations.

As we prepare for our upcoming Thursdays with ThirdPath event on February 15th, we had the pleasure of talking with Rainesford. Watch below for our interview:

We also sat down with Cameron Kamra, one of the participants in our Overwhelm Mitigation Groups (OMGs). Cameron’s thoughtful reflections shed light on the intricacies of balancing work with other life priorities while first starting your career.  Her reflections also show a depth of understanding likely influenced by her parents’ active involvement in the ThirdPath community.

Here are some of Cameron’s experiences and strategies for maintaining a healthy work-life equilibrium:

Setting Boundaries:

“In the past, I used to ruminate around work – something would be on my mind that I was excited to figure out – and I would end up using my evenings to continue to problem solve around it. But I learned to pay attention to when I worked most effectively, and I noticed that working in the evenings was making me tired. I was much more productive in the mornings.”

“So now, I’ve adopted small routines that help me switch off work at the end of the day. Something that helps me shift to being “off the clock.””

“When my husband and I first got married, he would bring his laptop to the dinner table. He worked from home for an organization that expected everyone to be constantly available. We both agreed that we would protect our time together at dinners. So even though he has to be available for his job in the evenings, he’s now protecting an hour, or an hour and a half, to take a break, eat dinner, and walk the dog together.”

Prioritizing Quiet Time:

Reflecting on the challenge of creating uninterrupted work time, Cameron shares, “The best solution I’ve found is intentionally getting to work a little earlier than others a few mornings each week. But sometimes I worry, since I manage a team of 14 people, that if I block off too much Quiet Time, that maybe I’m not making myself available enough for my team.”

This is one of the issues that Cameron has been working on in her Overwhelm Mitigation Group. At ThirdPath, we encourage everyone on the team to prioritize Quiet Time. Then, we work together to find an approach that works for the whole team.

Safeguarding Vacation Time:

“When I became a manager, I knew I wanted to be someone who would protect my vacation and also protect my team’s vacation.”

“So when we travel, we both have our work phones… this allows me to set the expectation that if there is a real emergency, you need to call me, but if you send me an email, you might not hear back from me.”

“All the things you do at the other times of the year, are going to help you get away on your vacation. If you have trained your team that they need to check in with you for every decision, then they are also going to need to reach you when you are on vacation.”

Nurturing Relationships:

The same things Cameron has learned around when and how she can be most or least productive at work helps nurture her relationships outside of work.

“In the evenings, I can tell I’m not going to do a great job getting more work done, but it’s a pretty good time for me to cook dinner with friends or to go get a drink with someone.”

She and her husband have also learned the value of creating diverse friendship groups. In addition to them both creating strong relationships at work, Cameron shares that having a group of friends outside of work has become good for her and her husband’s relationship. “Whether it’s through church or sports, it’s been a good way for us to connect with people beyond just our co-workers. “

Self-Discovery and Growth:

Discussing the evolution of her approach to problem-solving, Cameron remarks, “Especially in the last year, instead of feeling obligated to find a solution, I’ve been learning to listen and ask questions.

Now, when someone comes to me with a problem, before I offer any answers, I’ll ask them what they think we should do and often they have a great answer.

I love to provide ideas and solutions, but sometimes that’s not what a person is looking for. They’d rather have you ask them for their ideas or get help to work towards a solution together.

It also turns out, listening and asking questions also makes my job easier!”

All of Cameron’s insights resonate with Rainesford’s notion that “failure is rarely final.” Each experience propels us further on the path to self-realization, shaping the lives we aspire to lead.

As we prepare for our Thursdays with ThirdPath event, Cameron’s journey serves as a reminder that the quest for balance is not a destination but a continuous evolution—a journey we embark on with courage, resilience, and unwavering determination.

Join us at our upcoming Thursdays with ThirdPath event as we delve deeper into the pursuit of balancing work and life at the start of your career.

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