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Business Times Column #60

by Marcus

Does Your Professional Baggage Follow You Home?

In my previous column, I elaborated on a number of potential negative outcomes associated with bringing personal baggage to work. I described the fall even long-term top performers experience when they are unable to effectively manage their personal issues. I also explored the domino effect these uncontrolled issues can have on fellow team members, customers and the business as a whole.

In case you missed it, the column appears on the Business Times website.

In this column, I’ll explore the opposite situation. When one brings their professional baggage home, their personal life is impacted in very real ways. This creates ripple effects that are felt far and wide. Just ask the spouse, child or friend of a person who is unable – or who simply lacks the tools – to manage their professional life effectively. The adverse effects of this situation can damage and even destroy marriages, alienate children, and cause others to avoid these unhappy, and often angry, people all together.

In addition, carrying an excessive amount of professional pressure can lead to a whole host of self-sabotaging behaviors that also affect one’s personal life. Alcohol, prescription medication or illicit drug abuse is quite common when an individual is unhappy at work. They may have trouble sleeping, eat poorly or not at all and generally neglect their overall well-being.  As these contributing factors pile up, one on top of another, and despair sets in, they are likely to become visibly depressed and withdrawn. If unable or unwilling to get the assistance they need, the overwhelming and negative effects become an unavoidable consequence.

This does not have to be the case, however.

Just like personal challenges, professional challenges belong solely to the person experiencing them. Professional challenges are not the responsibility of family, friends or anyone else.

I am not suggesting that you shouldn’t talk to your friends and loved ones about the troubling situations you face at work. In fact, trusted and caring family and friends can prove invaluable in learning to cope with workplace stressors. What I am suggesting – even urging – is that those who love you do not deserve to bear the brunt of your frustrations.

If handled correctly, home and your personal life can be a safe environment where you can take a welcome break from the stress, frustration and hardships you feel at work. It is a profound and life-changing choice to leave your professional issues at the office and use your time with family and friends as a healthy “timeout” during which you can refresh and recharge.

Realizing that life is not all about your work will position you to strike a successful balance between life and work that leads to greater levels of happiness and success. This mindset will serve you, and those around you, well.

If you find yourself struggling to be happy at work, at home or both, take the proactive step of seeking out a qualified coach who can help you understand the situation and how to make the necessary changes. You may think that the personal and professional aspects of your life are not connected, but they are. In fact, they have profound effects on each other. You want the impacts to be positive, not negative.

Perhaps a different career path or another type of change is in order. I have worked with many business owners and team members who simply were not fulfilled and happy in their vocations. Their work simply didn’t align with their personal motivations and purposes. These very same people also felt trapped by finances, fear of the unknown and a host of other self-imposed limitations. With guidance, they were able to overcome their limitations and have gone on to create exciting professional lives they enjoy.

Once you get back on track, both personally and professionally, it comes down to using your awareness and new-found tools to stay in balance. Even with the help of family, friends and a qualified coach, there still could be days that do not go well and that take you to the limits of being able to manage your thoughts, actions, words and emotions effectively. Just understand this. In the end, it really comes down to your attitude: When you are happy and fulfilled at work, this is the very same person you bring home to those you love and care about.

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This article was written for and published in collaboration with The Business Times newspaper.

Access the article here.