ThirdPath

Shaping The Future

October 21, 2018andyagnewBlog

Change Can Begin at Home

We need to continue to push for changes in public policy and more flexible organizations but there are changes that we can make in our own homes to move away from rigid gender based roles and assumptions.

Fathers in particular are taking huge steps in rewriting their own family stories around what it means to be a modern dad and a modern family. Here are some real life examples of inspiring fathers who are recreating their own family narrative.

Dads working full time …

Dan (New York Dad) – “My wife and I have developed a rhythm of working together to balance work and home life. Most days I handle getting our daughter’s things together for the sitter and drop off / pickup. Jen handles getting our daughter ready for the day and getting us out the door on time. In the evenings we share in the tasks of bath duty, laundry, story time and bed time routine. I enjoy this arrangement because Jen and I split up the responsibilities giving us each one on one time with our daughter but still have time together as a family.”

Dads flexing work hours …

Miguel (Chicago Dad) – “I’m a stay at home dad who works part time and enjoys every minute of both. After 20+ years in the button down corporate world, I took a step back and decided that I wanted to stay home with our daughter since we knew she would be our only child. She brings me joy and excitement every day. I love being able to be around for all the big milestones as well as the silly little things. Of course it helps that my wife works full-time which covers our day to day necessities. Keeping my hand in the working world allows me to have some balance and engage in grown up conversations. I wouldn’t trade this for anything!”

Dads staying home full time …

Dan (Chicago Dad) – “You never know what life is going to throw at you. All you can do as a couple is adapt and make sure you are there for each other.  Our “style”, dates back to the end of 2005 when I left a high pressure banking job for what I thought would be a 12-18 month break to spend more time with our 3 boys and decompress. Almost 8 years later, I remain “retired” and a full time stay at home dad. My wife’s career flourishes (I’m very proud of her), and I would not trade the time I have had seeing my boys grow and mature. Being the only dad at school events clearly designed for moms and continually asked why you aren’t “working” can be tiring. But taking comfort in knowing you were there for your kids makes it all worthwhile.”

Dads sharing in the care after school …

Michael Ramberg

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Listen to our March 2018 Thursday with ThirdPath webinar where two dads discuss how they share work and family responsibilities of their school aged children. When both parents learn how to navigate school closures, sick days, after school activities and summer schedules, it can make full time flexible work possible for both parents. And when men and women both learn how to share in these predictable and unpredictable changes, everyone wins – moms, dads, kids, and our workplaces. Here are a few things you will gain from this approach:

More time as a family:

After school time can be great for both bonding and productive activities. Parents can plan an after school adventure instead of waiting for the weekend. They can also schedule appointments and errands. One shared care dad combined the two, “my kids weren’t always thrilled to get the errands done, so I’d make a plan to go someplace fun afterwards.”

More wiggle room for change:

Learning to work as a team, knowing which parent can flex and when, as well as building a network of support with family and friends, will pay big dividends when families work together to navigate school closures, sick days, and the summer months.

More opportunities to teach life lessons:

As children become more self-sufficient, creating a relaxed afternoon at home can give everyone time to connect. Having a friend come over can free up parents to get other household tasks done, or as children grow older, they can help you with these activities, by learning to take on responsibilities like laundry and cooking meals.

More able to be present for teens:

Older school aged children may start to need you less, but being around still makes a big difference. Parents of teens learn that teachable moments come at different times – at the mall when trying on clothes, or late at night when they are trying to finish a paper. Other parents admit to “shamelessly eavesdropping” during car pools. This helps the parent ask better questions later on such as, “So how is that new coach?” By taking turns being the parent at home, both parents increase the likelihood of being available, whatever comes up.

Want to learn more about mom’s and dad’s who are doing things differently at home? Check out our “integrating work and family” web page.

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Pursuit of Happiness

September 25, 2018andyagnewBlog

The New Revolutionaries

This month’s blog post provides a sneak peak at some of the critical issues we will shine a spotlight on in the upcoming 2018-19 season of our popular webinar series – Thursdays with ThirdPath. Starting in October we will be exploring how to make the impossible, possible – how to promote family well-being AND gender equality!

Brigid Schulte does a great job looking at this in her book Overwhelmed, Work, Love and Play When No One Has the Time.  In it she describes the web of forces that make us feel stuck in a life that is going too fast – a life that includes little time for reflection and even less time for joy.

But Schulte wants us to think bigger:
“What if not just women, but both men and women, worked smart, more flexible schedules? What if the workplace itself was more fluid than the rigid and narrow ladder to success of the ideal worker? … And what if both men and women became responsible for raising children and managing the home, sharing work, love, and play? Could everyone then live whole lives?”

At ThirdPath we are putting these revolutionary ideas into practice:
People who are part of the ThirdPath community are showing us how to push back at overwhelm. They have also discovered, changing their approach to work and family is not just good for their own lives, but good for their workplaces.

Leaders and fathers are a critical part of the revolution:
Click the SoundCloud icon to listen to our conversation with Brigid Schulte and two progressive leaders who describe how they have redesigned both work and family to create more satisfying lives, not just for themselves, but for their whole teams. Or read on to learn how one young dad switched to a four day work week, creating a win for his workplace and a win for his family. We’re so proud to be part of this movement for change – the groundswell of people who are choosing to step away from constant overwhelm and reclaim their lives.

CJ is one of the new revolutionaries:
CJ is one of the father’s ThirdPath has worked with to “redesign” his work so he had more time to care for his children. Our job was to help CJ find a “win-win” solution – one that was good for him and good for his workplace.

living the dream

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In order to reduce his workload from five to four days, we asked CJ if could: systematize tasks to reduce the amount of work required; change who did the work – for example delegating tasks that no longer were a good use of his time; slow down the pace of his work by reprioritizing the deadlines of less critical work.

CJ also noticed how many of his “highest priority” tasks required focused attention for prolonged stretches of time.  As the company’s sole engineer, CJ was often the person people came to to ask for help – but these constant interruptions got in the way of him getting his own work done.

CJ decided to talk to the company’s general manager, Molly, about the suggested changes.  What CJ noticed was that as he sought input from Molly, they both became more clear about what CJ should really be working on.  CJ explained, “I can get confused about what my top priority work should be because everything seems like a priority.  I can see where a regular review of what I am doing could be really valuable.”

“In both areas of my work, R&D and process improvement, I have a list that is two miles long.  My daily tasks are chipping away at these two long lists.  By having too much to do, all that happens is that the progress in both areas slows down. Now I’ve gotten better at asking, ‘What is my biggest priority?’ and, ‘At what rate do I need these things to get done?’”

Molly became an advocate for CJ, even helping him create routine “quiet time.” For example, Molly gently encouraged CJ to take a look at his own reluctance to say “no” to the various disruptions during his designated periods of quiet time.  “I do enjoy those interruptions,” CJ admitted, “but my job suffers, and engineering and design tasks get put on hold.”

Six years later we asked CJ for an update. Here’s what he said:
“One of the best thing about the changes I made is that I have more energy at work — which means I’m more productive when I’m at work. I also have more energy at home — which means I’m a better husband and father. Combined with my commute, my work days are long, but then I get 3 full days to focus on my home life. It also means I’ve been able to schedule all personal appointments on Fridays, so I rarely if ever take time off work for personal matters, this is a benefit for both me and my employer.”

Join the revolution.
Want to create an integrated approach to work and life like CJ? This year’s Thursday with ThirdPath webinars will help you do just that.  Tune in all year, or download our recordings. Want to get started today? Check out our many resources. Click here to learn more.

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Take That Vacation!

August 2, 2018andyagnewBlog

Take A Vacation: It’s Time To Recharge Your Batteries

Taking a vacation is good for you, its good for your family and it turns out its good for your organization!

Here’s what we at ThirdPath have learned about the importance of vacation time over the past 15 plus years of advocating for doing work and family differently. You can also listen to our Thursdays with ThirdPath webinar where we discussed this topic by clicking on the SoundCloud player.

In Short, the Shared Care parents and Integrated Leaders we’ve worked with, have taught us that disengaging from work while taking a vacation can improve our effectiveness at work and increase the skills we need to find a more satisfying approach to work and life.

However – some of us might need to challenge a few work norms to make this happen: the fear of being perceived as an under performer; the pressure to see it as a win-lose proposition – either we meet our client and customer needs or our own personal needs; or the worry that maybe there’s no point to take a week off given the demands to be available while away and the difficulty transitioning back upon return.

But there’s a lot to gain when we push back at these norms.

Vacation Benefits:

– Time off can have several health benefits like reducing risk of heart disease, stress and depression.

– Seeing new places and experiencing different things can have a positive effect on our overall outlook on life, providing a fresh and new perspective.

– Time away from work can also help us remember that work is just one part of who we are and remind us that we have friends, family and other life interests.

Here’s a list of ideas to help increase the enjoyment of your time away and maximize the benefits upon your return. For the full list, click here.

New Vacation blog image

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Vacation Check List:

  • Plan vacations around the “seasonality” of your work. Try scheduling longer trips for less busy periods of work and “long weekend vacations” when work is busier.
  • Block off pre and post “quiet” work days. Avoid scheduling meetings and phone calls the day before you leave and the day you return to allow for the “unexpected” and for catch up time when you return.
  • Create a “what can wait” list.  A week before you go, create a list of things that you can wait to get done after vacation, versus tasks that must be completed before you go.
  • Decide how “connected” you want to be.  If you need to check email or voice messages, plan ahead around what’s least disruptive.
  • Carefully define emergencies.  Think ahead about what challenges could arise. Clearly define emergencies to avoid everything becoming one.
  • Keep track of what worked well.  Create a list you can refer back to of helpful ideas for planning your next vacation.

And don’t forget, creating vacations that really recharge our batteries may also require us to change how we approach vacations as a family. Two parents working together as a team to plan and make the most of a vacation, makes it a better experience for everyone. (And while you’re at it, don’t forget to plan a romantic getaway for just the two of you!)

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Stop! Take A Break!

July 2, 2018andyagnewBlog

Pauses Increase Happiness and Effectiveness

Are you feeling the need for a pause in your life? Luckily, there is a good deal of evidence that shows taking a pause helps us to live happier lives AND become more effective at work.

As Joe Robinson, author of Don’t Miss Your Life, points out… “Satisfying work and a well-lived life are the result of thinking, assessing, and having the attention to create a better pathway forward. Something no one else can do for us. What you want doesn’t happen on its own. You have to make it happen.”

Following are 8 different beneficial pauses, big and small, that Robinson suggests we start implementing in our lives today…

1. Big Picture Pause.
Set aside a chunk of time, say, 30 minutes this week and then once a month, to think about where you’re going at work and life this year and why you’re going there. What are your work goals? Life priorities? What’s missing from the picture? What do you need to change? How can you do that?

2. Work Effectiveness Pause.
Review tasks and identify ones that are frequent bottlenecks and time-wasters. How could they be adjusted for less stress and more effectiveness?

3. Priorities Pause.
Set aside 10 minutes at the end of the workday or at the beginning to map out the top five tasks on your list for today or tomorrow.

man on peer

4. Balance Pause.
Each Friday, take a few minutes to assess the state of your work-life balance. Are you out of whack? What needs to happen to have a better work-life fit?

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5. Recharge Pauses.
Fatigued brains look like ones that are sound asleep. Pause when the pressure peaks, you’re stuck, concentration fades, the daydreaming begins. Take a walk, listen to music, or plan your weekend to build up energy and cognitive resources again.

6. Free Time Pause.
Take time to put together a free-time log for a week of all your time outside work. Where are the time sinks? Where are the free-time slots you could schedule a new hobby or activity? What would you like to do? Salsa dancing? Cycling?

7. Vacation Pause.
Figure out at the beginning of the year where you want to go on vacation and when you want to go. This makes it easier for coworkers and managers and locks them and you into making the holiday happen at the most opportune time, with plenty of notice to make workflow adjustments.

8. Life List Pause.
Take some time to think about what you’d like to do on this planet for the experience of it. What’s on your Life List? Sail the South Seas? Learn guitar? Keep a rotating list of five experiences and start jotting down steps to make them happen.

To hear more about taking a break, check out our “Finding Your Sweet Spot” webinar where we talked with Christine Carter, happiness expert at UC Berkeley’s Greater Good Science Center, about her book, The Sweet Spot, How to Accomplish More by Doing Less. In it she draws on the latest scientific research on positivity, productivity, and performance to demonstrate that by doing less we can actually accomplish more.

Want to learn how to implement these pauses and create a better balance between work, love and play? Join our OMG! – Overwhelm Mitigation Group – starting this fall.

Email us at: Time4Life(at)ThirdPath.org. Put “OMG!” in the subject heading and we’ll send you more information.

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Steps We As Dads Can Take To Change Our Workplace Cultures

June 4, 2018andyagnewBlog

A Guest Blog by Scott Behson

“I worry that unless my generation of busy involved dads don’t start making change happen, company cultures will remain unchallenged, and more and more dads will have to struggle seemingly alone.” – Scott Behson

Dads, do you relate? As we wait for politics and organizations to catch up with the needs of dads in the workplace, Scott Behson recommends taking matters into your own hands.

Below is an excerpt from a blog post Scott wrote describing the steps you can take to help change our work cultures to recognize dads as actively involved parents.  Or listen to our Thursdays with ThirdPath webinar by clicking the SoundCloud icon, and hear two dads talk about the changes they made – at work and home – to play a more prominent role in their children’s lives.

Be the Change You Wish to See

If you have the security, flexibility, courage and inclination (I recognize some may have more ability to do this at work than others), here are a few steps we can take in our workplaces to make it easier for dads to discuss and address work-family demands at our workplaces.

    1. Talk about your family and ask other men about theirs
    2. Make sure other men in your workplace see you use work flexibility for family reasons
    3. Take paternity leave
    4. Start a Beer Fire! Organize a group of male friends or coworkers to discuss life outside of work

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Where to Begin?

If you are excited by these ideas, here are some ways you can start integrating your life outside of work into the workplace right now.  Each idea is a small but important way we as men can make it easier to discuss our lives as dads at work – and taking these steps will have a big postitive impact for both men and women!

• Keep pictures of your kids/family not just in a small frame facing you on the desk, but in a prominent place at your workstation (an 8×10 on the wall behind you may be ideal)

During “water cooler” chit-chat with other men, don’t just talk about the latest sports gossip, tell them what you did with your kids last weekend, or discuss their little league games (or whatever)

Ask other men in your workplace about their non-work life, including their families. Encourage them to share their family activities – like what they did with the kids on vacation, etc.

You can integrate these tips at the beginning of meetings you run or if you are a supervisor and can generate these conversations with men who report to you, that’s even better!

Many dads struggle with work-family issues but, because they do not see other men talking about these issues, many feel like they struggle alone. By putting these suggestions into action, you make it more normal for men in your workplace to discuss family issues, and to bring some of our non-work lives into workplace discussions. These small but important steps also lay the groundwork for making big changes around creating more supportive workplaces for all.

Scott Behson, PhD, is a Professor of Management at Fairleigh Dickinson University and author of Working Dads Survival Guide. Scott lives in Nyack, NY with his wife, Amy, and son, Nick. Contact him on Twitter (@ScottBehson), FacebookLinkedIn or email.

 

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Skills For a Lifetime

May 2, 2018andyagnewBlog

Lets Get Happy

As couples move throughout their lives, new opportunities arise alongside new challenges. Dr. Sara Yogev, author of “A Couple’s Guide to Happy Retirement and Aging,” helps us understand that building a team at home early in our relationships will help with transitions now AND later in life.

According to Dr. Yogev, couples often neglect communicating about their needs and expectations through large transitions, but being aware of how change impacts the marital dynamic is huge. To keep a handle on big changes, Dr. Yogev recommends “both spouses to take time to think about what he or she wants, exchange this information, try to help each other with these goals and be willing to compromise.”

Following are 10 ideas Dr. Yogev recommends for navigating a happier retirement – many are great tips that couples could practice at any age! Or listen to Dr. Yogev share even more insights by clicking the SoundCloud link to the right.

  • Share expectations – Take time to talk about what you both are expecting.
  • Address your relationship with money – Get a sense of your “money style.” Are you a spender or saver? Doing this helps you develop a common financial plan even if your styles are different.
  • Prepare for mixed feelings – With every big transition, it’s good to remember there will be some things we like, and some things we find more challenging.

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  • Address issues as they surface – When problems arise, avoid the temptation to sweep things under the rug.
  • Custom design your days, weeks, months – Use a calendar to make sure both of your needs are being met and don’t over schedule.
  • Celebrate your body – Getting into a routine of exercise and eating right is something that will benefit you across the life cycle.
  • Celebrate your sexuality – Just like creating healthy routines around exercise and eating, couples also benefit from investing in their connection to each other.
  • Retirement inherently requires us to “say good-bye to work.” However, Yogev encourages couples to try working shorter days, or shorter weeks as a way to transition into this change – something Shared Care parents have likely already had lots of experience with!
  • Give each other physical and emotional space – Not having set work schedules that keep you apart, retirement requires becoming more intentional about the time you want to spend together and the time you need for your own interests.
  • Stay mentally active – There are many ways to stay active in life. Support each other to find new and engaging interests.

Whether phasing into retirement, or balancing work and family, this list reminds us that couples will gain a lifetime of benefits by taking steps to work as a team to meet their own needs and their needs as a couple.

Want to learn more? Why not take a look at our ‘Get Started’ resources page for families and send for ThirdPath’s Work Family Options Workbook.

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The Economics of Work-Life Balance

April 3, 2018andyagnewBlog

Are we willing to trade profit for greater life satisfaction?

ThirdPath has been working with a truly inspirational group of leaders who are learning how to support an integrated approach to work and life from top to bottom. It’s also probably no coincidence that some of these leaders started their own business – often a situation where innovation can transpire very rapidly.

What you might not have considered is that the approach these leaders are modeling is linked to new kind of bottom line.

Instead of building organizations that rely on extreme performance goals in order to meet inflated bottom lines, these leaders are promoting a very different path. They teach us “enough is enough” by putting an end to excessive work hours, and instead encouraging employees to be successful at work AND have time for their lives outside of work.

Attorney Anthony Doniger, a Partner at Sugarman Rogers, and past president of the Boston Bar Association, has many wise words to share on this topic. To listen to the wonderful discussion we had with Tony and two other leaders – both who founded their own law firms – click the SoundCloud icon on the right.

You can also read on for an inspirational excerpt from an article Tony wrote for the Boston Bar Journal, A Different Measure of Success.

ThirdPath Money and Happiness

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A good deal has been written about contentment, stress, dissatisfaction and disillusion in the legal profession [and other professions as well, ThirdPath would argue!]. For better or for worse, many lawyers and most large and mid-size law firms often measure their success not on a happiness or contentment index but against a monetary standard. Earnings — or “profit per partner” — is the currency with which firms compete for rankings on the all important The American Lawyer charts.

To improve these monetary rankings firms do things that are harmful to the profession and bad for lawyers.

One way to increase profit per partner is to limit the number of partners who count in the equation. However, with fewer people making partner, it is of course harder for diversity milestones to be achieved as there are fewer openings in the partnership ranks for anyone. On the revenue side, the pursuit of ever increasing revenues by definition imposes greater pressures on associates (and all lawyers). The result, of course, is that lawyers have less time for professional and other non-billable activities.

In addition, mergers and acquisitions have increased markedly over the last decade. The cost of these transitional events is not insignificant. Indeed, at the annual Boston Bar Association Leadership Retreat, a large percentage of the attorneys present had personally experienced such an event, finding it stressful and resulting in a solution that was less optimal from the perspective of contentment, though perhaps more profitable.

In the end, we need to ask when enough is enough.

Should we be willing to trade some profit or growth in profit for greater satisfaction? Surely it is okay to make a little less next year (or not make more) and take on some new professional or pro bono activities, or yes, even personal activities (there’s nothing wrong with hiking the Appalachian Trail).

There is much we can do to improve our professional and personal lives, our pro bono and bar work, our efforts to improve access to justice, if only we would emphasize alternative measures of success.

This employee-centered approach achieves success across industries. Chief executive Jim Sinegal, retired from Costco in 2012, was another pioneer around this approach.  Read Jim’s thoughts “On Leadership,” in the Washington Post.

Are you a leader taking this approach? We would LOVE to feature your story. Email us at:time4life(at)thirdpath.org

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The Benefits of Shared Care

February 26, 2018andyagnewBlog

What’s at stake? Why a shared approach to family is a goal worth reaching for!

There are many forces working against parents who are both interested in redesign their work so they can share in the care of their children.

We were honored to have 1MFWF ask us to write about how couples can overcome these barriers and create a “team at home.” We also used this opportunity to put a spotlight on some of the wonderful shared care families we know.

Over the years, a number of authors have written about Shared Care, and Kristin Maschka, one of these wonderful authors, recently joined us for a Thursdays with ThirdPath webinar. Kristin’s book, This is Not How I Thought it Would Be – Redesigning Motherhood, does a great job describing how she and her husband first got stuck in traditional work and family roles, but then learned how to work together to create a shared approach they are still practicing today.

Below are some of the things Kristin believes she and her husband gained by switching to Shared Care. You can also click on the YouTube video to watch a recording of our recent webinar with her.

“I knew what I would lose. I’d lose my marriage – Maybe not literally, but something vital at its core. David and I got married as equals, as best friends, as partners. When we were married, we vowed to ‘be true to the pursuit of the dreams and goals we both share. The dream we shared now was of a family life with everyone home for dinner, with time for our relationship with each other. We wanted a family life that would allow us to share the family responsibilities so that we both had time to pursue our own dreams and both had a relationship with Kate. How could we hope to have our marriage stand the test of time if we gave up on that vow to be true to the dreams we both shared? I would always carry some level of resentment, and he would always feel some defensiveness. If we gave up on the idea that we could share responsibility for our family, effectively we would be giving up on a core value in our marriage.”

Shared Care Books
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“What would David lose? – I didn’t want David to miss out on the richness of the relationship I had with Kate. A richness that came from putting a cold washcloth on her feverish forehead, from reading and giggling about stories in her bed at night, and, yes, from the times she drove me crazy and I yelled and then said I was sorry and she hugged me anyway. I didn’t want David to find many years later that he didn’t know his own child, had missed her childhood and couldn’t have a meaningful conversation with her. I wanted more for him. So badly it brought me to tears. And I was pretty sure he wanted it too.”

Want to learn more about Shared Care? We highly recommend any of these books:
The Libra Solution, Shedding Excess and Redefining Success at Work and at Home, Lisa D’Annolfo Levey (2012)
Equally Shared Parenting, Rewriting the Rules for a New Generation of Parents,
Marc and Amy Vachon (2011)
This is Not How I Thought It Would Be, Remodeling Motherhood To Get The Lives We Want Today, Kristin Maschka (2009)
Getting to 50-50, How Working Couples Can Have it All by Sharing it All,
Sharon Lerner (2009)
Daddy On Board, Parenting Roles for the 21st Century, Dottie Lamm (2007)
How to Avoid The Mommy Trap, A Road Map for Sharing Parenting and Making it Work,
Julie Shields (2003)
The Four-Thirds Solution, Solving the Childcare Crisis in America Today, Stanley Greenspan (2002)
Halving it All, How Equally Shared Parenting Works,
Francine Deutsch (2000)
Love Between Equals, How Peer Marriage Really Works, Pepper Schwartz (1995)

Check out the many resources we have for families. Let us help you design the work/family solution that is right for you!

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Holidays: More Joy, Less Stress

December 20, 2017andyagnewBlog

Want holidays to include more joy and less stress?

We’ve spent the last 15 years talking to families who have redesigned their lives to create more joy and less stress.

On one of our previous Thursdays with ThirdPath webinars we talked with two experts about the added stress we all experience around the holidays. Not only do these two guests work with individuals and couples to help them find more joy and less stress in their lives, Jeanine O’Rourke and Rachel Allender have lots of experience trying to “walk the talk” themselves. They are also long-time ThirdPath community members. Click the Soundcloud icon on the right to listen to the recording of the call. We promise you’ll walk away with lots of new ideas.

Or … take a look at some of the questions we discussed. We’re guessing they’ll help you find more holiday joy and less stress too.

Work and Time Off – December is a good month to set some limits around how much time you spend at work. How demanding is work in December? How much time can you take off? Do you need to work over the holidays? What can you do differently around work and taking time off next year?

Gift Giving – It’s easy to get caught up in gift giving and buy more than planned – sometimes putting a strain on our family budgets and values. It also takes time to buy gifts, including helping relatives know what gifts to give. What are you enjoying most about gift giving this year? What would you like to do differently next year?

Other Holiday Expectations – Creating holiday cards, putting up holiday decorations, attending holiday events – at work, with friends, and at your children’s schools – can all require a lot of time over the holidays. Which ones do you enjoy the most? Are there any you would like to skip next year?

Family Time and Family Traditions – The most important part of the holidays is creating time with our families. Which family traditions create the most fun and cause the least stress? Are there any that could be simplified or maybe even crossed off the list?

Holiday Planning – The fantasy is that holidays magically happen. The truth is: advance planning helps us focus on what is most important. It also helps us find ways to share the work load. Who can be part of your planning team and how can you work together to create more joy and less stress?

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One of the best holiday gifts you can give yourself is to take 20 minutes after the holidays to write down your thoughts. Then next year, you can revisit your list as you plan for holidays 2018!

Want a free copy of ThirdPath’s holiday planner?

Email us at: Time4Life(at)ThirdPath.org … Subject: Holiday Joy!
This simple worksheet can help you keep track of what worked well this holiday season. Then you can pull it out next November as you plan for the next round of holidays!

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Chris’ Story

Every few months we feature one of the pioneers that make up the ThirdPath community . . .

For many jobs today, work can be done very differently, sometimes even completely virtually.  On one of our previous Thursdays with ThirdPath webinars, we discussed these ideas with Kyra Cavanaugh, author of the book, Who Works Where and Who Cares?  We also invited two leaders who manage virtual work teams to share what’s made their teams so successful.

One of these leaders was Chris Madoo. When Chris participated in the webinar, he was managing a 15-person remote work team that also happened to be the top sales producer at Marriott for 3 years in a row. When Chris shared his story he also talked about how he used a number of the flexibility tools Kyra outlines in her book. Click the SoundCloud icon to listen to this inspiring conversation.

Since this webinar, Chris has been promoted, but he continues to manage his new team virtually. We’re also proud to have Chris as a member of ThirdPath’s Pioneering Leader group, and on one of our recent calls, it was fun to hear how Chris is still using these important flexibility tools today.

Tool #1: Define performance objectives. Kyra underscores, this is not just an important tool to use for flexible work teams – but for every work team.

As Marketing and Sales Leader at Marriott, Chris learned that successfully managing a virtual work team can come with a few curve balls, but through prioritization, communication, and trust he was able to build on his team’s success. It also helped that Marriott clearly defined performance standards. Productivity goals were carefully defined as a way to promote key priorities and related behaviors. Activity logs and weekly updates also kept the team on track to help drive results.

Tool #2: Capacity and resilience.  Kyra explains, managing the long-term resilience of a work team doesn’t just benefit the individual team member it also benefits the organization.

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Chris has become an expert in understanding how much work each of his team members can handle while also supporting them to have time and energy for their lives outside of work.  Chris learned this requires open and honest communication and feedback.  It also meant getting to know, and supporting the different ways his team members needed to work.  Some were parents and their schedules varied around their children’s school day.  Others tended to work a more traditional 9 to 5 schedule. Taking into account his team’s different work schedules, as well as his own preferences, Chris made himself available for both types of worker, or let them know who they could be in touch with when he was away from work.  Over time, he even learned that he could match team members who needed extra support with others who were experts in integrating work and life responsibilities.  This way they could learn from each other.

Tool #5: Communication.  No surprise, the key to all of this is good communication.

Chris knew the glue that held everything together was good communication. Not only did his employees have to communicate their capacity and work preferences, they also had to communicate what they wanted to make time for in their lives outside of work.  Chris also communicated what was going on in his life, especially if it was going to impact his availability.  In fact, if there were life issues that would impact their ability to complete a task on time, all of them were responsible for communicating that to the rest of the team. What he noticed from all of this, is that it helped everyone build up a strong rapport with one another, which also helped them hold each other accountable for the work they were doing.

Our discussion with Chris and Kyra helps underscore how flexibility will look different in every organization, and how support from upper management will always make it easier.

When Marriott made the shift to a flexible workplace for departments like marketing and sales, the organization had to learn what it meant to manage remote staff. Chris learned that flexibility requires more trust and greater transparency. Marriott helped by clearly defining expectations. Employees did their part by clearly defining their work capacities and obligations outside of work. Together – individuals, teams, managers and senior leadership – we’re able to optimize a new way of working that benefited everyone, including the bottom line!

Thank you Chris and Kyra for leading the way to creating truly 21st century workplaces!

Want to learn more? Check out the “integrated leadership” section of our website – discover how men and women are advancing in their careers while also creating plenty of time for their lives outside of work.

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Assist individuals, families and organizations in finding new ways to redesign work to create time for family, community and other life priorities. Develop a growing community of individuals, leaders and organizations to influence wider change - both within organizations and at the public policy level. Support a new mind-set where everyone can follow a "third path" - an integrated approach to work and life.

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