Beyond the Work/Life Balance: Connecting with Your World Deeply in Order to Find Your Purpose

Justin Risedorf

Director of Product Management at sticky.io



I think that one of the less-discussed skills for Individual Contributors in my industry is how we prioritize our own time in every area of life — work, home, and everything in between.

I think that urgency is kind of seen as a sign of value or success — how do I know that I’m valued in this conversation? What could I point to to show my manager that will be a sign of the value that I bring? I think that we often end up allowing ourselves to be occupied with “urgent” tasks and things that keep us busy, but that are not actually value-producing for the organization or the teams that we’re a part of, or that aren’t even really aligned with where our greatest strengths and abilities are.

Yet, it’s really hard to try to create a space in the office that does not focus mindlessly on these “urgent”, “important” tasks, because that’s what everybody else is focusing on. It’s like, there’s this current of this type of energy running throughout the workplace, driving us to meet these smaller goals, sometimes needlessly. Putting yourself aside in pursuit of more objectively valuable endeavors, putting out fires that you are well-equipped to fight but that are not really your battles to win — maybe I can help, but what if I can’t? — that’s a scary place for a lot of people to try to operate out of outside of the status quo.

Actions taken

From the professional side, one of the things that has been very helpful in terms of avoiding burnout after expending myself in these short-term pursuits (especially when, now, we’re all working from home) is having a couple of habits or practices that help me to gain and maintain a sense of clarity regarding what me role in life really is and where in my life I have the potential to add the most value.

I find that having a practice at the beginning and at the end of every week that allows me to look forward helps me keep my calendar and plans in alignment with these higher goals — I’m going to remove some of these items that do not serve this higher calling that I feel compelled toward.

Beyond that, blocking out some amount of time on a daily basis for the things in my life that are important but that might not otherwise make it onto my schedule, that tend to get pushed down the field if space for them is not created intentionally, has helped me to attain balance, keeping me in the right spot professionally.

On the personal side, I’ve been very fortunate to have been given the chance to work for a series of companies that are nationally-recognized for their company cultures. With that being said, however, it stands to say that my boss is not accountable for how I balance my work and my family life. They can set me up for success as best as they can, but if I don’t choose, every day, at some point in time, to turn off “work” mode and to engage with my wife and my daughters, that’s on me.

Lessons learned

  • Carving out time in your life to reflect and to look deeply inward, as well as time to convene with my leaders about where I really think that I can make the most amount of difference, gives me insight into how best to develop myself as a person and as a professional.
  • Having a sense of the importance of the health of my home, knowing that those relationships are just as critical to who I am and what I can do in life as anything that I do professionally in my career, leads me to prioritize my wife and daughters and to invest in them purposefully.
  • Nobody has all of this figured out, least of all myself. It’s very much a working model. Knowing who you are and what your purpose is will be square one. It takes a whole journey to get there, and it’s one that I take part in every single day. The ability to do great work and to build a great company full of great relationships requires you to figure out who you are and what your ultimate purpose is. Every person is on their way. I try to encourage everybody around me to participate actively, no matter what this journey looks like from their perspective. In this way, through others, we find who we are ourselves and we are able to grab ahold of our own purposes. Working from that concept is, to me, the foundational piece. If you don’t have that, you’ll always be trying to find that sense of purpose in the wrong things. You complicate your life in this way.
  • Through my journey in life, I receive an identity. I am who I am because of this. What I get out of this is a sense of when I am out of whack with who I should be. Out of that, I am able to go into the office and into my own home from a place of strength.

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Justin Risedorf

Director of Product Management at sticky.io

Leadership DevelopmentCommunicationOrganizational StrategyDecision MakingCulture DevelopmentEngineering ManagementPerformance MetricsCareer GrowthCareer ProgressionIndividual Contributor Roles

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