I discussed in a previous column the negative results of bringing personal baggage to work. I described how even long-term top performers can stumble and fall when they’re unable to manage their personal issues in the workplace. I also elaborated on the domino effect uncontrolled issues can have on workplace culture, fellow team members, customers, and the business.
In this column, let’s consider the other side of this situation.
When people bring their professional baggage home, their personal lives are affected, too. The adverse effects of this situation can damage and even destroy marriages; alienate children; and cause others to avoid these unhappy, frustrated, and often angry people. Perhaps you know a spouse, child, or friend who’s unable — or simply lacks the tools — to manage their professional lives effectively.
Professional pressures can lead to a whole host of self-sabotaging behaviors that also affect personal lives. Excessive consumption of alcohol, prescription medication, and illicit drugs is common.
When people are unhappy at work, they tend to not sleep well, stop exercising, eat poorly, and generally neglect their well-being. As these factors pile up, despair sets in and they might become visibly depressed and withdrawn.
If they’re unable or unwilling to get the assistance they need, the negative and overwhelming effects become unavoidable.
This doesn’t have to be the case, however.
Just as with personal challenges, professional challenges belong solely to those experiencing them. They alone have the power to choose to effectively address — or not — professional stressors.
Let me be clear. I’m not suggesting people shouldn’t talk to family and friends about the troubling and frustrating situations they face at work. In fact, trusted, caring, and honest family and friends can prove invaluable in addressing professional issues. What I’m suggesting — even urging — is 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 can offer a safe environment where you can take a welcome break from the stress, frustration, and hardships you feel 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 that life is not all about your work — that work is only a part of your life — will help you strike a successful life and work balance that leads to greater levels of happiness and success both 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. Over my 21 years as a coach and consultant, I’ve worked with many business owners and team members who were unfulfilled and unhappy in their professional realities. Their work simply didn’t align with their motivations, purposes, behaviors, and competencies. These people also felt trapped by fear of the unknown, finances, and a host of other self-imposed limitations. With guidance, they overcame their limitations and went on to create 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 take you to the limits of being able to regulate your actions, emotions, thoughts, and words. Maintaining your balance in your personal and professional life comes down to using
self-awareness, self-regulation, and newfound tools to rise above your issues.
You might think the personal and professional aspects of your life aren’t connected, but they are. In fact, they have profound effects on each other. You want those effects to be positive, not negative. Choosing to leave your professional baggage at work so you can truly enjoy your personal life constitutes a wise choice indeed.
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 how to make necessary changes.