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Looking back at work when you reach retirement

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Having retired recently, I have noted a few things that are key to a more successful career and healthy work/life balance.

It is not necessarily the big things that one considers, but the many little contributions made to people and processes. Under the pressure of too many commitments and continual stress, these contributions may simply not be made. The keys below can make a difference.

1. Goal Setting

Taking the time to decide where you would like to be and what you would like to be doing in 5 to 10 years greatly effects performance. Ideally this takes some time with short term mileposts established.

One needs to set common goals with one's partner so that you don't work at cross purposes and suffer from "relationship drift." Check in to see how you are doing and whether there needs to be adjustments or even some negotiation to make sure expectations are aligned.

2. Project Management

People who outline how a job is going to be approached with built in reporting tend to be less frustrated and communicate with their supervisors in a clear fashion. Supervisors, hands on or not, appreciate being updated so they don't have to worry. If you are the manager, it causes you to think through who needs to do what and what is expected. Nothing frustrates people more than not being clear on what needs doing.

More careful thought is given to information needed at various stages, where it will need to come from and when. This is not helped when people are slow to respond, but you can develop action plans to deal with the likelihood of a particular individual's slow response.

3. Time Management

There are many systems taught for this. The easiest possible system is usually best. An evaluation of where your time should go versus where it is actually going can be very revealing. It is important to make time for friends or family. Many time management systems are totally focused on work or neglect interruptions making for a longer day and more frustration as one tries to fit everyone and everything in.

One perspective that could be considered is taking the time to ask oneself weekly, "When I look back, what might I see in the way I approached people and challenges?" Asking may make you feel good about yourself, or may point to the need to make some adjustments. So it is not just, "Where did my time go, but how did it go."

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