How Millennials Can Achieve Work+Life Fit

By David Hassell

An Interview with Cali Williams Yost

I recently had the pleasure of interviewing Cali Williams Yost, corporate strategist, author, speaker, and founder of the Flex Strategy Group / Work Life Fit, Inc. Cali has been a work+life strategist since 1995. She believes that when businesses and people partner, they create flexible workplaces that achieve high performance and work+life well-being. This is especially relevant for millennials who desire more flexible workplaces and for whom quality of life is paramount.

Cali and I discuss her two books and some specific details on how to make little tweaks to create work+life fit.

There is no balance

Whether in our work or personal lives, something is always out of balance, even if it’s pretty small. Everyone has different work and personal realities, and different goals and ambitions. Many people don’t strive for total work/life integration, instead they want to create additional boundaries to both work and life. Others of us want the seamless integration route. The key is to find your unique work+life fit in both a daily sense as well as during major life transitions.

Cali began helping organizations to create more flexible workplaces by changing the culture. The problem she discovered was that employees didn’t know how to meet the organization halfway. Many people feel there is a structural adaptation problem and end up preferring formal shifts, like officially working from home on specific days each week or working 40 hours in 4 days instead of 5. Cali’s first book, Work + Life: Finding the Fit That’s Right for You details these formal changes, what she calls the “big reset”.

Little changes, big differences

Cali’s latest book Tweak It, Make What Matters To You Happen Every Day, is more of a deep-dive. It complements the “big reset” by providing detailed first steps for being thoughtful and deliberate about managing the fit:

 – Take 15-20 minutes each week to look at all the possibilities that you can fit into your work/career/personal life buffet.

 – Don’t run two separate calendars and priority lists, so you can always make choices with the big picture in mind.

All the tweaks add up. Minor things work cumulatively and people feel better about work+life fit. For example, Cali suggests getting up and walking for 30 minutes in the middle of the day, or simply picking up the phone to call and meet that friend you’ve been meaning to for a drink after work.

It takes some focused time and attention to implement these new habits, what Cali calls standard tweaks. But you can also intentionally create calendar space for unique things that happen. Mix it up and commit by getting it on the calendar — go to your friend’s birthday party on a Thursday night, or engage in other activities that are most meaningful in your life (some of the things that often end up taking the backseat).

Millennials: the work/life generation

Gen Y gets a bad rap, but they don’t necessarily want to work less — just differently and more flexibly. Millennials are willing to put in a 12-hour day to finish a project, but if things aren’t pressing, they would like flexibility to have social engagements or take care of personal responsibilities, even mid-day. They want to perform and do their best at work while maintaining personal health, relationships, and interests.

Millennials use the term “balance” because they don’t have the language to talk accurately about what they want. Cali trains them to collaborate with co-workers and clients so that the work+life fit that works for them isn’t a burden on others.

What matters most to millennials is not sitting at their desk for 8 hours. What matters most is performance, hitting objectives and meeting client expectations — feeling fulfilled in meaningful work. Cali focuses on giving them the skills to manage that well, to think about how it all fits together, and how to coordinate things that will make their ambitions happen.

Since 15Five reports are all about employee feedback, I asked Cali to share the best question she asks her team. Demonstrating her powerful leadership, Cali responded that she asks them “What do you think?” in any given situation. She gives them the space to respond with their own individual brilliance and empowers them to think autonomously and creatively. “When they answer it, we go to places I could never even imagine.”

For over two decades, Cali Williams Yost has helped hundreds of organizations adapt their strategies and cultures to the new reality of work, and has given thousands of individuals the modern tools and skills to take control of their work+life fit and find success, on and off the job. Called “one of the most sophisticated thinkers,” on work and life issues by The New York Times, Yost has appeared on the TODAY Show, most recently with Maria Shriver as part of her “Doing It All” series, CNBC, Bloomberg TV, NPR, and in Fast Company, USAToday, and the Wall Street Journal. Connect with Cali on Twitter @caliyost and on Facebook

How do your professional and personal lives fit together? Do have some personal tips of your own to share with our readers? Leave a comment below!

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