The membership committee organized an invited roundtable for the 2014 SRA biannual meeting in Austin, TX. We were quite excited about the participants on the panel, as well as the turnout (given that it was late in the afternoon on the last day of the conference). The panelists gave excellent advice, and the audience asked really helpful questions. I wrote a blog post for SRA summarizing the advice from the scholars (and explaining why my first attempt at live tweeting was a huge failure). You can find the post here.
I did want to mention one thing that was not brought up by any of the panelists, and that is work/life balance. At mid-career, almost everyone has responsibility to a young child, or a teenager, or an aging parent. These are not unique features of mid-career, but often mid-career represents the time that these responsibilities converge. I remember a time in my mother's life when she had an active full time job, an aging father to visit at a residential facility, a husband with a degenerative disease, and a grandson in the NICU (she was a young grandmother). This convergence isn't uncommon at this point in one's career, and it's another way in which work/life balance can be challenging. I don't have all the answers of the perfect balance (even though, as my son likes to tell people, I won "Best work/life balancer at HDFS follies last year).
Work-life balance also involves things like exercise, healthy eating, and time with friends. I've mentioned before that I put exercise blocks on my actual calendar because if I don't, it doesn't happen. But exercise gives me more energy and makes me a generally happier person, so it improves my work/life balance. In addition to putting it on my calendar, I work it into my daily life -- I try to walk my kids to school and then myself to the office, and this week, I started trying an exercise ball in place of my chair (yes, I get many strange looks as people walk by my office). So work/life balance is sometimes about responding to things outside your control (babies who don't sleep all night long; responsibility to a parent's finances; partner's illness), but sometimes about finding the balance you need to be a sane and happy person.
Can you do something balanced for yourself today?
“The post Professional development advice at mid-career first appeared on Eva Lefkowitz’s blog on April 9, 2014.”