Every person moves through various stages in his or her life. There are different stages even in a person’s career graph. Like the demands on a person’s time can vary in his or her personal life, so are the demands variable even at work.
Finding a Suitable Work/Life Balance
Life could be extremely pleasant if there is a reasonable balance when peaks of demand in a person’s life match with those in his or her professional career. When demands are lopsided, then it will give rise to dissatisfaction or frustration. It becomes necessary for a person, then, to find that suitable balance between personal life and career.
For people who are searching that perfect work/life balance, an excellent insight has been provided by Dr. Donald Super with his career development theory that he wrote about twenty three years ago. Dr. Super felt that there was a need for him to expound theories on striking a balance between personal and professional life as he found that people were unable to attain that balance and were not able to journey on a straight path of career development.
Dr. Super’s theory has become famous as `Life Career Rainbow’ model and it is employed in evaluating life and career patterns today.
What is this Theory all about?
The Life Career Rainbow helps people in thinking about different roles that they have to play at different times in their lives. The general consensus and the feedback about this theory acknowledge that most people find it to be extremely suitable in maintaining a healthy balance between work and personal life.
Before the theory is understood properly, it is important for people to know about the eight different life roles as explained by Dr. Donald Super.
Eight Life Roles
1. Child – A child spends much of his or her energy and time in the relationship with the parents. This role starts at birth and actually continues as long as the parents are alive. The role decreases slightly when the parents grow in age.
2. Student – This role begins when a person starts going to school and continues until he or she graduates from a university.
3. Leisurite – This is a term coined by Dr. Super to explain about the time people spend on their leisure activities. People tend to spend comparatively more time on leisure when they are going through childhood or during adolescence. They come back to a leisurely life style once again after their retirement.
4. Citizen – This period covers the time spent working for the neighborhood and the community, mostly as volunteers. People often get into these `citizenry’ duties as their kids get older as they have more time on their hand.
5. Worker – This is the time that people spend in paid employment and this covers a major portion of their lives.
6. Parent – This role is covering the time which is spent bringing up children and nurturing them. The parental part is considerably important until children finish their higher education or shift home as adults. The role continues even after the children get married, albeit to a reduced level.
7. Spouse – This role covers the energy and time spent in a relationship. It also involves activities that keep the family going.
8. Home-Maker – With this role, people are spending their time on the upkeep and maintenance of their home and family life that involves cooking, cleaning, and shopping.
Five Life Stages
Dr. Super developed the model of life span and career development defining five different life stages. It is important to consider these stages as they fit the patterns in everyone’s life.
1. Growth (Age 14 and under) – This stage goes through with a focus on growing physically and this is the stage when ideas are formed about the importance of self worth. People begin to discover their main interests and special abilities.
2. Exploration (Age 15–25) – This period is about people beginning to learn about work and career and different choices that are available to them. People start figuring out ways of finding success in different careers.
3. Establishment (Age 26–45) – This period begins when people start settling down in their selected career option and become responsible and productive citizens. Responsibilities increase during this period and so does the personal satisfaction from work and earnings.
4. Maintenance (Age 46–65) – This period brings people into a stage where they have to maintain their jobs and their career. They have to take part in activities to develop their career in order to make their future financially secure.
5. Disengagement (Age 65 and over) – This is the period when a person has to take retirement from active work. The emphasis can shift from paid work to consultancy and other part time benefits. People can also begin to concentrate on other types of roles that can overlap leisurite, home-maker and citizenry phases.
Using the Theory of Life Career Rainbow to strike Better Work/Life Balance
The Life Career Rainbow theory can be used in cycles of five-year periods. It can also be used in the form of pie charts as graphic medium. One chart could depict the current work/life balance and the other chart could plot where a person would like to be in the next five years. The main purpose of using such charts will be to discern the imbalance between the current and the desired pie charts. This imbalance could then be addressed by means of development in goals to help move to that desired position.
Imbalances have to be straightened out without letting the emotions cloud judgments. A person has to reflect on values that he or she holds to be significant in life. Thought has to be given even on the satisfaction and dissatisfaction levels when developing the model or the chart. There is a possibility that people who value career achievements will obviously spend considerable time in the work role than others who may spend more time as Parent or Spouse giving priority to the family.
An example could be illustrated by taking a person who is a male manager with a responsible position in a sound company whose wife is expecting their first child. This will be most likely a period where time will have to be managed with tact using delegation skills. A decision will have to be taken here to strike a balance between being a good husband and a dedicated manager. From a psychological point of view, a person has to take a call on whether he would be able to sacrifice the chances of earning more in the future as an irresponsible husband and father or be content with what he is able to earn and fulfill his responsibilities at home.
Using Life Career Rainbow as a Lifelong Process
This theory of career development can be used throughout life as a process as it will definitely be influenced by several other areas in life. There is no short-cut formula to develop one’s career and an important part of planning out a career is to search for that ideal balance between work time and the rest of personal life.
Once an ideal split between work role and life role is reached, a person will find it very easy to identify where his or her life has gone out of balance and work his or her way by using Dr. Super’s Life Career Rainbow model as a process of seeking that harmonizing balance.