My father-in-law worked for an airline in their baggage department for forty three years. His job consisted of loading and unloading luggage and various tasks that go along with that process. It was a good job that offered decent pay, good benefits, and a flexible work schedule. I remember asking him how he managed to stay at a job so long since most people don’t really do that anymore. He described it as a good job with a steady paycheck that allowed him to be home with his family regularly and be involved with his kids’ school and sports activities. The most interesting thing he said was that he never really took his work home with him—once he was home for the day or weekend, he didn’t really think or worry about work. Obviously, he thought about what time he had to leave the next day or when he was going to request days off, but he didn’t let his work spill over into his family life.
I don’t know if it was the type of work he did or just the type of person he is, but what my father-in-law describes is rarely true for most people. More often than not, people let their work life affect their home life and their home life affect their work life. I am one of those people and I’ve seen this play out in my own life as well as in others both for better and for worse. Maybe you can relate…
Lets start with for worse
- having a bad day at work always equals a bad evening at home
- disagreements with your boss or coworkers often leads to petty arguments with your spouse
- You often find yourself depressed and/or irritated on Sundays (or the day before you go back to work)
- Its difficult for you to enjoy vacation or days off because you dread returning to work
- When you’re dissatisfied with your work, you tend to feel dissatisfied with your marriage
- You feel embarrassment or shame when you think about your spouse or kids seeing you at work
- When you return home from work, you feel like you have nothing left to give to those you love
- When you’re talking to your family or friends, you often feel disengaged or distracted
- Your job keeps you away from your family for long periods of time
- Your family’s daily routine doesn’t include you because you’re so rarely available
- When you have an argument with your spouse it often affects how you relate to coworkers
What does for better even look like?
- Your work boosts your confidence and makes you a more pleasant spouse and parent
- Your work energizes you
- You are often excited to share your work with others, including your family
- Your job provides well financially, but also allows you to be with your family and involved in your kids activities
- You feel valued and respected both at work and at home
- Since you rarely worry about work, you can be more engaged with your spouse, your kids, and friends when you’re with them
- Your love for your family drives you to do your job well
- You believe your marriage actually makes you a better employee
Which of the above—better or worse—do you relate to most?
Of course its not always cut and dry, but I’ll assume that you resonated with more of the worse than the better. I’ll also assume you know that you’re not alone. Most people in real life see their work affect their family negatively more often than not and vice versa. Maybe you don’t recognize that argument with your wife had nothing to do with her and everything to do with your boss. Or maybe your poor performance at work is really be caused by the turmoil in your marriage. I’ve seen marriages end in large part because of the husband’s crazy work schedule he wasn’t willing to give up. I’ve seen businesses lose customers and fail because of the negative influence of infidelity and broken marriages. I’ve heard of many people losing jobs as a direct result of letting their personal life influence their work negatively. Maybe you’re in a situation right now in which you fear some of these things happening or maybe you have already experienced them first-hand. Either way, if want to avoid these negative consequences or start changing them, I believe there are three main areas where you must focus your attention.
- TimeTime is the only currency we can never get more of or store up to use later. Our time is far more valuable than money and we never know when our time in this life is up. Therefore, its extremely important that we spend our time wisely and give plenty of it to the things—and people—that matter most. The amount of time we spend working is always going to be significant, but it shouldn’t rob us of quality time with our family. I know some jobs require more time than others and maybe yours even keeps you away from home a lot. If this has created a problem in your marriage or in your relationship with your kids, you need to make a change. That may mean changing your shift, taking a different position, or changing jobs altogether. You don’t have to quit today—or maybe you do—but if you want your work and your family to improve, you do need to evaluate your priorities, consider your options, and communicate with your family.
- Attitude and BeliefsYour attitude toward work and your family will always affect your evaluation of them. And your attitude is rooted in your beliefs. If you think your boss is a moron, for example, its probably because you believe you are smarter or could do the job better. Your beliefs influence your attitude and your attitude determines your actions. Attitude is also closely connected with your mood; a good attitude can put you in a good mood, but a bad attitude usually yields frequent bad moods. If you want your work and your family to improve, evaluate your attitude and analyze your beliefs.
- Money Why are you working in the first place? You work for the money but ultimately that’s not good enough. All too often we fall into the cycle of working to provide money for our family, but neglect to provide some of the more important things. Getting paid for our work is great, but a paycheck will never truly satisfy. Its often said the more you make, the more you spend—and I’ve found this to be true in my own life. How is it that I used to live on half as much as I do now, yet now I’m just getting by? If you spend your money wisely and manage your personal finances well, you will have more flexibility in the kind of work you do and the amount of time you spend doing it. If you manage money poorly, you will find yourself working more hours and making more money, but still feeling poor. This usually leads to a poor attitude at work and at home and ends up in burnout. If you want your work and your family to improve, consider why you really work, evaluate your spending, and create a budget and stick to it.
Now that you have considered how your work affects your family—through your time, attitudes and beliefs, and your money—its time to take action. If you really want to see positive changes in your work and your family, its imperative that you actually take some time to evaluate your current situation accurately and make a plan for the change you want to see. Take 5 minutes today to actually write down your thoughts. Then make time to talk to your spouse this evening if possible, and talk to your boss this week. Your life may not change overnight, but if you will take one small step today and another tomorrow and decide in your heart to never give up again, you will see that a better way of life is much closer than you realized.
In what other ways does your work affect your family? Do you have any good stories or practical tips to share on this topic?