Wednesday, September 28, 2011

How to keep personal issues from affecting your career

(Cartoon inspired by Diane Q.) 

If life were a bed of roses, we could all show up at work without a care in the world. Unfortunately nobody enjoys carefree living.  Whether we had a fight with our partner, difficulties with the kids, fighting an illness, facing financial challenges, struggling with a divorce or the death of a loved one, we all have personal lives with ups and downs.  The question is, how do we keep those cumbersome issues from affecting our careers?

It is never a good idea to share personal issues with colleagues.  Unless you have known the colleague for years and trust the person completely, it is better to keep personal issues to yourself.  Whether intentionally or accidentally, the colleague might let something slip in which case your personal issues could become common knowledge.  If you feel the need to talk, talk to a professional such as a doctor, a lawyer, a bank manager or a career counsellor.  Not only might these professionals actually be able to help you, but they are bound by the code of privacy.

If you feel that your personal issues weigh you down to the point that they start affecting your career, consider taking some time off.  Going to work despite personal problems is commendable, but not always advisable.  Your mind may be on something other than work which, directly or indirectly, could affect your career.  One mistake could ruin an otherwise perfect reputation, and the last thing you need is to worry about your career while dealing with personal issues.

If you are gay or lesbian, carefully consider if you want to share your sexual preferences with your boss and colleagues.   Over the years the gay community has made tremendous progress in its acceptance, but there still are old fashioned people who might have trouble with your sexual orientation.  Before coming out, consider if this information might affect your career?  In some cases it’s better to be enigmatic than exposed.

If personal issues frequently cause you to get angry or even fly off the handle, consider doing something about that.  You may have good reason be angry, but your temper could be affecting your career.  To cool off go for a walk or if a change of environment is of no help consider an anger management course.  You could also try taking up yoga, martial arts or simply buying a punch bag.  If you can’t roll with the punches, throw some punches at the punch bag, you’ll be amazed at its calming effect.

If you are on the other hand a very shy person who wouldn’t say boo to a goose, this shyness could be affecting your career too.  To get more self-confidence, consider joining a self-help group who deals with this type of personal issue.  Shyness has a reason, something caused you to lose your confidence and it’s important to get to the root of that problem.  Once you found the reason for your low confidence you can work on it and overcome your shyness.

Regardless of your personal issues, you are not the only one with a particular problem.  If the problem starts to affect your career, get help, but be careful where to look for it.


  1. :-) Not going to say more for now and leave it for the critiques, but will promote.

  2. Alex, you must be glued to your computer. As always, thanks for the comment.

  3. A well done article, Conny, and a perfect submission to the challenge. Finding the right balance of friendliness and "too much information" at work is a tough balance to achieve.