One of the biggest challenges young career women face is leaving their personal lives away from the office. Up until your first job, it’s totally normal to vent to everyone around you about the breakup you are going through with your boyfriend, the fight you are in with your best friend, or how rough you are feeling from going out last night. Unfortunately this type of talk is not well suited for most work environments if you are hoping to be seen as a leader and a professional.
It is inevitable that we are all going to go through rough patches at home or in our personal lives. The challenge is not bringing it to the office. Going through some of these things for the first time in Corporate America myself was difficult and taught me some important lessons about balancing personal issues with your job.
First, there will be good days and bad days. The bad days are REALLY bad, and you may feel like you can barely function at work. This may mean catching up on filing or organizing to stay active. Make sure you aren’t doing something that requires tons of “brain power” or attention to detail if you are having a terrible day, because chances are you are distracted and will make some big mistakes, leading to more stress later.
Second, don’t recruit your co-workers to participate in conversation about your personal drama. Women often feel healing through talking about what is bothering them. Unfortunately, this is usually not ideal while at work. Not only do you look stupid, but it’s a waste of time and eventually everyone is going to get sick of hearing the latest update of what’s going on. Soon enough your co-workers will start avoiding you like the plague, consider you immature and unfocused.
Third, as tempting as it is to email your friends and family about how you are feeling all day, you are better off closing that personal email and focusing on work. Why? Because nothing is going to change by 5pm. Also, the more you start emailing, the more you get sucked in. Time will vanish; you will be behind on your work and worse off from where you started. Before you know it, your bosses and clients are upset with you for things you forgot to do thanks to your emailing spree, and you feel even more stressed out and upset then you did to begin with.
Lastly, do nice things for your self to get through the day. For me, this means getting a manicure at lunch, stopping at Dunkin Donuts or Starbucks on the way to work, or taking a walk at lunch. If you’re going through a breakup, remember to think about all the movies that feature girls who went through bad breakups and then ended up better off for it (Legally Blonde, The Holiday).
If you’re going through something personal, no one expects you to be perfect. It’s inevitable that people have bad days. Just try your best to put a smile on and stay as focused as you can. If things get really terrible, it may be best to take a day off to clear your head. The last thing you want is for your co-workers or superiors to think that you are incapable of doing a good job at what you were hired to do.