How to Make Your Job Work for You

Do you work to live or live to work? The answer may help you decide whether you are on a path to balanced success or headed for total burnout.

Forshay founder and CEO Sally Thornton was committed to the grind. Both she and her husband were on successful career tracks, finding their value in hard work. Then life as she knew it changed in an instant.

Sally was 8 months pregnant with her first child and working overtime to prepare for maternity leave. In fact, she was working so hard she almost blew off her own mother’s birthday party. Reluctantly, she pulled herself away to attend. After the celebration, she found out her older brother died on his return trip home. Besides the incredible grief and sadness Sally felt, the thought that she almost missed that last visit with him put the way she was living her life in perspective in a major way.

In the days that followed her mother said something that Sally couldn’t ignore, “I just lost my first son, you’re about to have your first. Don’t put work first.”

From there, Sally relaunched into a career helping others discover how to make their job work for them – not the other way around. Today, she works with top executives and large companies to reinvent what work looks like.

Do you need a priority shift in order to make your job work for you? Sally has 3 top tips to get started:

  1. Know What You Can Control

We can’t always control things that happen, like how Sally couldn’t control what happened to her brother, but we have the ability to explore what we can control. For Sally it was the time she spent with the people she loved and the activities that brought her joy.

Outside of work, who and what brings you fulfillment? Maybe it’s a hobby, such as art or a sport. Perhaps it’s time spent with your family. Chances are, it’s a combination. Start by naming the priorities in your life.

Once you know what matters to you, work to make time for them in your life. This doesn’t mean work will get easier. You may not be able to control your boss’ expectations or your current project deadline, but naming your priorities and committing to them can allow you to find balance regardless of your career’s demands.

  1. Learn from Experience

First attempts don’t always exactly go as planned. Even when things seem to be going well, setbacks and events will happen that will force you to work through and work forward. The key is to realize that experiences both positive and negative are essential building blocks.

For example, once Sally went out on her own with a few partners, her partners decided to take a different direction. However, due to a noncompete, Sally found herself with some unexpected time off. During that time, she reached out to her former clients to ask about their experience with her company. This was foundational to forming her company Forshay.

As you work to re-prioritize what matters to you, you’re sure to have stops and starts in the process. At each intersection, make sure to learn from your experience. Ask yourself three questions:

  • What worked?
  • What didn’t?
  • What do I wish I had done differently?

Next, ask your network – coworkers, friends, and yes, your family, the same questions. Gaining wisdom from those around you can be instrumental in helping you make lasting changes.

  1. Define Your Success

Run or conduct your business on your own terms. This means you might often find yourself as the outlier. For example, Sally learned through her first venture that next time around she wanted to truly work for herself, so she resisted the temptation to accept help from venture capitalists. In her world, this is far from the norm. However, just because everyone else is doing it, doesn’t mean it was right for her, and when something is considered the “norm” truly take the time to assess is this acceptable as “your norm”.

Here’s her secret: You can be successful, even if it’s not normative.

Maybe success for you will mean choosing to finally open your own business. Or it could mean turning down the big promotion so you can coach your daughter’s soccer team.

Our life choices are what lie between true impact and failure. When you’re fired up about your life – both work, home, and everything else – that is true success.