Professional life versus private life

Tanya Kruijer
  • 5 Min read
Despite our best efforts to keep our private life separated from our professional life, the quality and stability of our personal life can have a direct impact on the success of our professional life.

For many people, their professional life reflects their professional life. When your personal life is stable and happy, this mirroring is a good thing. Your professional life will be productive and rewarding because you'll be able to direct your attention and energy to your work, your customers and your teammates. However, and I am sure we’ve all been there, if your personal life is filled with negative things, your professional life will very often suffer. When you're emotionally drained from hours of conflict or sadness at home, it's difficult to focus on even the simplest work-related task. 

In these instances, most organizations not only understand, but they are also willing to make arrangements to help employees through these difficult times. Just don’t be afraid to take charge of the situation. Regardless of what may be occurring in your personal life at the moment, there are steps you can take to meet your employer's expectations while taking charge of your personal life.

1.     Separate the big stuff from the little stuff

If you're constantly upset, depressed or stressed, your job performance will continually deteriorate and your employer's patience will unfortunately eventually run out. 

No company should be expected to agree with a decline in your work performance for every stressful event that comes along in your life. Your employer counts on you to deal with most situations on your own, most of the time, without affecting your ability to interact with customers and co-workers.

While you can expect compassion and help for dealing with big problems, you can't expect the same kind of support for every single little problem that occurs. Once you learn to separate the big stuff from the little stuff, you can keep your personal life in order by reacting to the problem appropriately. 

Kim Littlefield, a career management executive, says, “Make a commitment that, while you are at work, you will focus solely on work.  Put your personal issues ‘in a box’ on a ‘mental shelf.’ Tell yourself you will deal with them at another time.” She added, “Sometimes, whether the personal issues are positive or negative, we allow ourselves to become absorbed in them while work that needs to be done continues to pile up, resulting in added stress.”

2.     Get Help if You Need It

As understanding as employers may be, they can only do so much to help you. Ultimately, it's your responsibility to make every effort possible to work through your crisis, even if it means getting help from external sources. However, the hardest thing for many people to do is admit they need help. They might believe that asking for help is a sign of weakness, when in reality the opposite is true. For the most part, people who ask for help tend to be very strong and determined not to become victims of abuse, violence, or tragedy.

3.     Work with Your Company to Find a Solution

When you do have a “big” issue that understandably affects your job performance, let your manager know about it as soon as possible. Trying to keep it a secret or hoping no one will notice might increase your already present stress levels.  But instead of revealing your situation and then waiting for your organization to come up with a solution, bring to the meeting some possible solutions that would work for both you and your employer. 

When you show your employer that you respect their objectives and are prepared to do what it takes to get your personal life back on track, there's usually little they wouldn't do to help you. 

Clear and effective communication with your boss is key. If a personal matter is affecting your ability to be physically or emotionally present for your usual hours, then talk with your boss or employer immediately. “Don't wait until the quality of your work and concentration levels deteriorate further. Assure your boss that you are dealing with the issue and that your lack of focus is temporary,” says career coach Jess Chua. The key here is to share relevant information: what they can expect to be different about your scheduling or work productivity, and how long the issue may persist. If an employer knows you will be a little off your game for a month, they have an idea of how to support you. It’s better to be clear and upfront than have them wondering each week what’s going on. “A good manager will be supportive, and will request a colleague to help out with some of your tasks, or encourage you to seek professional help to cope with stress,” says Chua.

But while no one's personal life will ever be perfectly in order, being able to separate the "big" stuff from the "little" stuff, asking for help when you need it, and working with your organization to find a solution for your problems are the keys to weathering any crisis. 

Always remember that when your personal life is in order, it will be reflected in your work and in your ability to ensure your future employability.

 And remember this: ‘When life is blue, just select another color from the Rainbow!’

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