How To Integrate Flexibility into Your Career


Dec. 22 2014, Published 2:00 a.m. ET

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All of our responsibilities keep us very busy. When you add up the hours we invest in school, work, families, friends, hobbies, and “necessary” things like sleeping, we find that we don’t have much time at all. Wouldn’t it be nice if we could do everything?

Lindsey Pollak, millennial workplace expert and author of Becoming the Boss: New Rules for the Next Generation of Leaders, is a great role model if you are looking for ways to lead the kind of life you want. When she isn’t working with one of her 150 corporate consulting and keynote speaking clients like Citi, Ralph Lauren, Time Inc., and Harvard, she is serving as chairwoman for the nonprofit organization She’s the First. In addition to that, she serves as LinkedIn’s official ambassador, spokesperson for The Hartford’s campaign “My Tomorrow,” and chair of Cosmopolitan magazine’s Millennial Advisory Board. How is she able to do all this?  She takes charge of her work life!

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“You have to be the CEO of your own career,” says Lindsey. “You have to be mindful and proactive of your leadership development— finding mentors, taking on development and training programs, reeducating yourself, and surrounding yourself with good people who are going to support you as you move forward in your career.” When you become the CEO of your career, flexibility, the job characteristic that helps you do almost everything you desire, is more easily obtainable. But is it more of an optimistic belief to think millennials, who are relatively new to the workforce, can acquire job flexibility?

“I absolutely know that job flexibility is possible,” says Lindsey. “But you have to ask for it.  You have to actively seek it out. [People in society] used to think that you had to earn flexibility.  I think a lot of millennials come into the workforce assuming it will be part of their job.”  

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Lindsey Pollak millennial workplace expert job flexibility advice

Traci Brodnax, who works 40 to 50 hours in corporate communications for global brands and still finds time to support Atlanta, Georgia’s community of musicians, agrees with the idea of taking charge of your career to ensure flexibility. “[If you want to make your job more flexible] talk with your colleagues and supervisors and come up with creative ways to collaborate. Take the lead on presenting how a more flexible work/life balance will actually garner more efficiency, more creative thinking and better end results.”

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Unfortunately, knowing how to make your career more flexible is only half the battle.  Being passionate and doing your research also has a roll in acquiring flexibility. Traci says,  “If you are passionate about your work, you will find ways to make it flexible for you while not interrupting the team or company’s goals and objectives.” Her reasoning behind this thought is sound: people with careers they are passionate about produce great work because they find it to be an “extension of themselves and their personal brands.”

Lindsey takes a very realistic stance on job flexibility. She suggests researching to find out if job flexibility is possible in your field.  “I really advise millennials to talk to everybody they know. Go back to your college career services center, [and] really understand which industries and careers would even make a flexible career plan possible.”

Taking the lead on what you want out of your career isn’t just a good idea. It’s essential if you want to make time for your other interests and time commitments. In Lindsey’s book Becoming the Boss: New Rules for the Next Generation of Leaders, she writes, “My goal is for you to continually thrive in these ever-evolving times while still maintaining your sanity and sense of purpose.” Maintain your sanity and sense of purpose by striving for work place flexibility!

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