Accepting the Personal You at Work
Updated: Dec 10, 2019
During my years of managing people, I frequently had people come into my office to chat. People who reported to me, people who used to report to me, people who just liked talking to me. It was not uncommon for these people to want to discuss their careers, or current challenges they were facing. Since striking out on my own and starting my own business, I have thought about many of those conversations, and something keeps coming to mind.
On a regular basis I would talk with people who were not excelling in their roles - some who were barely hanging on by their fingernails – coming in to get advice or suggestions on things they could do to reach the next level, or at least to start excelling in their current role. I would spend time listening to them talk about the challenges they were facing, and what they were trying to accomplish. In so many of these situations, there was a drastic disconnect between what they wanted to accomplish, and what they wanted out of life. That may sound a bit confusing – let me explain: these people wanted something out of work (to be promoted or to gain the respect of their team/boss), but at the end of the day, what mattered most to them was the life they had OUTSIDE of work.
Time and time again I would have this discussion, and point out to these individuals that all they kept telling me was how valuable the time they spend with their family is (overtime is completely off the table), how important it was to be able to travel every possible opportunity (and cancelling trips for work – definitely not an option), how vital it was to be able to take every possible day off to be able to spend their time away from the office. Yet at the same time, they were telling me that they wanted more duties, bigger challenges, more responsibilities and more assignments to bolster their reputation and image in the office – to somehow prove themselves.
Now, let’s be clear about something – I am absolutely not saying that you cannot have your cake and eat it to. There is no reason you can’t have a successful career and a successful life outside of work, but what I AM saying is that in order to consistently excel and to continue to be promoted, you have to be willing to prioritize work to some extent, and be willing to take on more responsibilities/challenges/duties.
If you value your life outside of work significantly more than your career (as many people do), admit what matters to you, stand by it, and be willing to accept certain things because of it. Don’t push yourself to take on more, to do things you truly don’t WANT to do because “all of your friends are managers now”, “that’s what your family expects”, or “you used to be a top performer every year”. Everyone is different - you cannot measure yourself against someone else’s yardstick, and things change in life – before having kids, you could spend all darned night at the office if you felt like it. There is nothing wrong with prioritizing your life outside of work and devoting more time and energy to the things that really matter to you, but YOU have to accept your personal self at work. You are NOT a bad person for not climbing that corporate ladder – for not being the best of the best of the best every year – in fact, many would say you have your priorities in the right place.
If you have ever said anything along the lines of the comments above, I will tell you the same thing I told those people when they came to talk to me – embrace who you are and what matters to you, because at the end of the day, you won’t get a second chance with that stuff. Acknowledge who you are and stop trying to do the status quo just because everyone else is.
Wear who you are proudly, and accept yourself – inside and outside of work. Need help coming to terms with who you really are? Give Proactive Happiness a call – we can help.