In my previous column, I outlined the problems that occur when people bring their personal baggage to work. I described how even top performers stumble when they’re unable to effectively manage personal issues and the effects these issues exert on customers, other team members, workplace culture, and, ultimately, the business.
In this column, let’s consider the other side of the proverbial coin.
When people bring their professional baggage home, their personal lives are affected in very real ways, too. The ripple effects can extend far and wide —alienating children; damaging and even destroying marriages; and causing others to become angry, frustrated, and unhappy. Perhaps you know a spouse, child, or friend who’s unable — or simply lacks the tools — to manage their professional lives effectively.
Carrying too much professional pressure can lead to a host of self-sabotaging behaviors that affect well-being. When an individual is unhappy at work, they tend to not sleep well and stop exercising. They might eat poorly, not at all or overindulge. Excessive alcohol, prescription medication, and illicit drug use are common. As these factors pile up and despair sets in, they could become depressed and withdrawn. Unable or unwilling to get the assistance they need, the problems could become unavoidable and overwhelming.
This doesn’t have to be the case, however.
As with personal challenges, professional challenges belong solely to the person experiencing them. They alone have the power to choose, or not, to effectively address the stress they experience.
Let me be clear. I’m not suggesting you shouldn’t talk to loved ones and friends about the troubling and frustrating situations you face at work. Caring, honest, and trusted family and friends are invaluable in helping you address professional issues. What I suggest — even urge — is that those who love you don’t deserve to bear the brunt of your frustrations and unhappiness on an ongoing basis.
If handled correctly, your home and personal life could offer a safe environment where you can take a welcome break from the frustrations, hardships, and stress you encounter at work. It’s 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 relax, refresh and recharge.
Realizing life is not all about your work — that work is only a part of your life — will help you strike a successful balance between work and life that leads to greater levels of happiness and success on and off the job. When you go home, truly go home by leaving work where it belongs — at work. This mindset will serve you and those around you well.
In some cases, a different career path or another type of change could be in order. As a coach and consultant, I’ve worked with many business owners and team members who weren’t fulfilled and happy in their professional lives. Their work didn’t align with their behaviors, competencies, motivations, and purposes. These people also felt trapped by their fear of financial obligations and the unknown as well as a host of other self-imposed limitations. With guidance, they overcame their limitations and went on to build professional lives they now enjoy.
Even with the help of family, friends, and a qualified coach, there will be days that don’t go well and push you to the limits of controlling your actions, emotions, thoughts, and words. Maintaining balance in your professional and personal and lives comes down to self-awareness and self-control and using newfound tools to address your issues.
If you find yourself struggling to be happy at work, at home, or both, take the empowering step of seeking out a qualified coach who can help you understand your situation and make necessary changes.
You might believe the professional and personal aspects of your life aren’t connected, but they are. In fact, they exert profound effects on each other. You want those effects to be positive, not negative.
Choose to leave your professional baggage at work so you can truly enjoy your personal life.