Caroline may get called to work in the middle of Thanksgiving dinner. Mike works weekends, so he can hit the ski slopes on a weekday. Sean works flexible hours and goes to kindergarten with his daughter when the class has an interesting activity or outing. Jane may be away from home for weeks at a time.

The fabric of your life

It is amazing how work can lead to such diverse lifestyles. Every kind of work has its own associated pattern of hours, stresses, activities, and commitments. In the last few posts I have explored how your personal brand reflects your interests, values, skills, and personality preferences. Today I want to continue thinking about how to refine your personal brand by considering your lifestyle and constraints.

Creating your lifestyle

Work influences your day-to-day activities, so be sure your work aligns with how you want to spend your day. My daughter began freelance writing a few months ago as a part-time venture to supplement her full-time job working with little kids. She is doing well and getting offered more and more writing projects. Her lifestyle is changing drastically, as she now works evenings as well as days.

Although this is okay for a short time, because she wants to save money to travel, she knows this isn’t a long-term solution. When I asked her if she wanted to write full time, she wisely commented that she wouldn’t want to do that unless she also had some regular contact with others. She would miss the daily personal interactions with kids in her other job.

Of course, my daughter is clever and insightful (I’m not at all biased here.) What really impressed me was her realization that, for work to be enjoyable, she wanted to interact regularly with others. This fits with her interests, values, skills and personality, and also her preferred day-to-day lifestyle. As she gains experiences and learns about herself, she is exploring and refining her personal brand. While she continues to realize her brand she creates a lifestyle that works for her.

Have you thought about what your ideal daily lifestyle looks like? Here are a few questions to facilitate your thinking. When and how much do you want to work? What hours do you want to work? Days? Evenings? Weekends? Holidays? Where do you want to work? Do you prefer to be inside or outside, with people or alone, on the computer or in front of a group? Do you want to live in the city, in a small town, or in the country? Your choice of work may dictate some or all of these variables. In many ways, your personal brand is tightly connected to your lifestyle and your daily activities.

Roles and constraints

I like to think positively and am more likely to see possibilities and opportunities than constraints. That said, many people have some restrictions and roles that, sometime in their life, limit where, when, and how they work. Assessing how your constraints and roles link to your lifestyle can help you refine your workday and your personal brand.

You may want to customize your work hours to accommodate other important roles in your life. Perhaps you are a student, parent, child of an elderly parent, or have some other significant role that deserves your time and attention. Leisure, socialization, and hobby activities also have their own cadence of time and energy. Does your brand, and do your daily activities, reflect these important life considerations?

Physical and psychological factors may also limit or define your work choices. Strength, colorblindness, injuries, allergies, and fitness levels are examples of physical constraints that may influence your work. On the psychological side, you may want to minimize your stress levels and not work under pressure or in demanding situations. You may be recovering from or trying to avoid burnout. On the other hand, you may be someone who thrives in demanding, high-pressure situations. Know the physical and psychological conditions you thrive in to further refine your brand and ensure day-to-day life reflects who you are and how you want to live life.


Donna Dunning, PhD, is a psychologist, certified teacher, member of the MBTI ® International Training Faculty, and director of Dunning Consulting Inc. She is the author of more than a dozen publications, including her two newest books, 10 Career Essentials and What’s Your Type of Career? 2nd edition. Donna’s guiding principle is: Know yourself, respect differences, learn and grow. Follow Donna on Twitter and Facebook and visit her website.