What You Do After Work Makes All the Difference

Editor’s Note: It’s an annual tradition for TLNT to count down the most popular posts of the previous 12 months. We’re reposting each of the top 25 articles between now and January 2nd. This is No. 16 of 2016. You can find the complete list here.

“After Work, Is What Determines Your Future!”

You finish work at 5 p.m.; go to bed at 12 midnight. Within those 7 hours, how do you spend them? The activities you do between the time you get up and the time you go to bed are of extreme importance.  The after work hours are at the top of the pyramid because, in a lot of cases, what you do then determines your career trajectory.

That headline above was from an article I read the other day.  It syncs perfectly with my life thoughts. When I speak at conferences, I often ask the following questions to HR audiences:

  1. How many of your read the business news?
  2. How many of you watch the business news channel?
  3. How many of you have a reading list based on your interest?
  4. How many of you watch TV every night? If so how many hours per night

It always amazes me when we do the unscientific poll and we see where peoples’ interests lay.  In the vast majority of cases responses are based on personal habits that have nothing to do with work per se.

8 hour approach to your career

This, I call the 8-hour approach to career management.  In other words, your career is determined by the 8 hours of effort you put in at work, and your future and career progression depend on the boss and the company.  This may have worked for an older generation of employee, but today, if that is your model, do not fret when you get frustrated either about your career progression or lack thereof.  In other words you drove it to this point.  You guided your career based on limited input, but became frustrated when it ended in a rut.

After hours approach to your career

If you spend even an hour each night working on your passion, whether it be your current job, a profession or on a change of career, you are on your way to success.

The more off time you put in moving “you” forward the better off you will be in your future.  I travel internationally two weeks out of the month.  My model is to transfer articles, white papers etc. to my iPad.  I read, markup, think though all the issues that I encounter in those articles.  However, when I did not travel as much, but was just a normal commuter like a lot of you, that was my reading time.  A vast majority of my off time was spent reading.  To me it was not work but my way of advancing me and becoming more knowledgeable about my profession.

Article Continues Below

Learning is a constant endeavor

Consider a doctor who never picks up a medical journal after graduation.  Would you want this professional giving you treatment?

This valuable time should be spent working toward your destination in life.  Even if you can only spare a half-hour per night or only a few nights a week, you must do it. Your after hours pursuit may not be connected to your current job or profession.  That is OK.  However, it must be connected to what your dreams are.  That constant pursuit is the only way to avoid stagnating.

So many people talk about their dreams and where they want to be, but upon questioning, they are not making any progress.  Hoping that one day it will all fall into place is not going to make it happen.

You are in the driver’s seat; you have the keys to your success.  So get driving.

Ron Thomas is Managing Director, Strategy Focused Group DWC LLC, based in Dubai. He is also a senior faculty member and representative of the Human Capital Institute covering the MENA/Asia Pacific region.

He was formerly CEO of Great Place to Work-Gulf and former CHRO based in Riyadh. He holds certifications from the Human Capital Institute as Global Human Capital Strategist, Master Human Capital Strategist, and Strategic Workforce Planner.

He's been cited by CIPD as one of the top 5 HR Thinkers in the Middle East. He received the Outstanding Leadership Award for Global HR Excellence at the World Human Resources Development Congress in Mumbai, and was named as one of the 50 Most Talented Global HR Leaders in Asia

Ron's prior roles included senior HR positions with Xerox HR services, IBM, and Martha Stewart Living.

Board memberships include the Harvard Business Review Advisory Council, McKinsey Quarterly's Executive Online Panel, and HCI's Expert Advisory Council on Talent Management Strategy.

His work has been featured in the Wall Street Journal, Inc. Magazine, Workforce Management and numerous international HR magazines covering Africa, India and the Middle East.