Monday, July 18, 2011

How Do You Manage Your Career When You Have Personal Problems?

How do you manage your career when everything around you is falling apart? Let's say you're looking for a job or career advancement and you get hit with a personal problem such as the death of a loved one.

Lately I've been dealt a series of personal tragedies that have just about knocked me off my feet. Add the overall bad economy to the equation and I sometimes feel I'm barely hanging on.

I'm not alone, I know. Many people are struggling with personal and professional problems simultaneously. Symptoms I see in myself and others:
  • Feeling numb
  • Unable to think clearly and make decisions
  • Depressed and sad
  • Afraid of what the future holds
  • Unable to appreciate personal and professional achievements
  • Don't want to be around people, but don't want to be alone, either
  • Forgetting to breath
How do you cope with personal or professional problems? Let's try to help each other out. Please use the comments section to:
  • Describe what struggles you're going through
  • Tell us what's worked for you and might be helpful to someone else reading this post.


Patricia Frame said...

Went through a period like this last year when could not talk much or normally. Lucked into a great young speech therapist whose support also helped me cope otherwise. She pushed me to keep doing things I enjoyed and not be constrained by the voice loss -- that was hard to do but turned out to be critical.

On work side, I did try to enhance my planning, my research, and give myself kudos when I got anything much done. Was not as smart about using social media in lieu of talking or about letting people help me as I should have been.

If you can, tell one-two critical people that you are going through a bad patch and ask for their help/support. If in active job search mode, have some activities planned for times when you can deal with people and some for those when you can't.

And studies show exercise, especially outdoor walks, helps - although I am not good at forcing myself to do what I know I should.

Rebecca said...


Thanks for being open and candid about your experiences. I think that we have just about all been there!

When I'm overwhelmed with needs that are inherently out of work, I find that three strategies help me a tremendous amount:

1. Tell People. It might be hard or awkward... and you don't have to give any more specifics than you feel comfortable, but being surrounded by people that support you can make all the difference. (And, they'll know not to take anything personally!) This really just enables number 2 --

2. Ask For Help! This is probably the most important one. Since we have all been there, most people are more than willing to help out! Often they just don't know what to do, or we are too guilt ridden to help. Go ahead, ask for support. You'll get more than you expected!

3. Set Aside Time for Grief. I found that when I give myself banded time to let emotions rule, I ease my emotional burden in other times. This is for two reasons, first, when things start to overwhelm, I can tell the emotions that they are valid and important and that I will visit them in 4 hours. It also helps because I actually let myself experience them fully! How often do we constantly try to avoid the hard stuff? I know I do!

4. Take Pleasant Breaks. When I had to be in tip top shape for client meetings and the like, I made sure to schedule in more down time that I might otherwise. 15 minutes to take a walk around the block or to chat with a co-worker. By adding short pleasant moments into my day, I was infused with the ever illusive energy.

I hope some of that might be useful! Best of luck with your situation.

And, seriously, let me know if you could use a hand. :)


Susan Ireland said...

Thank you, Patra and Rebecca,
I know your advice will also be helpful to others reading this post who are having personal difficulties.

Yesterday I spent time doing a rather mundane project on my website that got me off my "emotional treadmill" and was actually productive.

Making time to feel your grief is also important. I hadn't thought of giving it a designated time slot in the day. Sort of like going to therapy with yourself. :)

Thank you both!