In my last column, I elaborated on several potential negative side effects associated with bringing personal baggage to work. I described how even long-term top performers can stumble and fall when they’re unable to effectively manage personal issues in the workplace. I also explored the domino effect these uncontrolled issues can have on fellow team members, customers and the business as a whole.
In this column, I’ll look at the other side of the coin. When people bring their professional baggage home, their personal lives are affected in very real ways. The ripple effects are felt far and wide. The adverse effects of this situation can damage and even destroy marriages, alienate children and cause others to avoid these unhappy, negative and often angry people. Perhaps you know a spouse, child or friend of someone who’s unable — or simply lacks the tools — to manage their professional lives effectively.
Enduring an excessive amount of professional pressure can lead to a host of self-sabotaging behaviors that also affect one’s personal life. Alcohol, prescription medication or illicit drug abuse are more common than you might realize. When an individual is unhappy at work, they tend to not sleep well, eat poorly or not at all, stop exercising and generally neglect their overall well-being. As these compounding factors pile up and despair sets in, they could become visibly depressed and withdrawn. If they’re unable or unwilling to get the help they need, the overwhelming and negative effects become an unavoidable consequence.
This doesn’t have to be the case, however. Just as with personal challenges, professional challenges belong solely to the people experiencing them. They alone have the power to choose, or not, to effectively address the professional stressors they face.
Let’s be clear. I’m not suggesting you avoid talking to your loved ones and friends about the troubling situations you face at work. In fact, trusted, caring and honest family and friends can prove invaluable in choosing to effectively cope with or address professional issues. What I’m suggesting — even urging — is that those who love you don’t deserve to bear the brunt of your frustrations and unhappiness.
If handled correctly, your home and personal life can offer a safe environment where you can take a welcome break from the stress, frustrations 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 respite during which you can refresh and recharge.
Realizing that life isn’t all about your work — that work is only one part of your life — will help you strike a successful balance between life and work 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. As a coach and consultant, I’ve worked with many business owners and team members who weren’t fulfilled and happy in their professional realities. Their work simply didn’t align with their personal motivations, purposes, behaviors and competencies. These same 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 have gone on to create professional lives they now enjoy.
If you find yourself struggling to be happy at work, at home or both, take the empowering step of seeking a qualified coach who can help you understand your situation and how to make necessary changes. 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. When you’re happy and fulfilled at work, you’ll bring a version of yourself home that enhances and enjoys your personal life.
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 effectively managing your thoughts, actions, words, and emotions. Maintaining your balance in both areas of your life comes down to using your awareness, control and newfound tools to rise above your issues.