This topic came up because I’ll be on travel this week, visiting family. I’ll keep it short, but the bottom line is: make sure you maintain good relationships with the people in your home or outside of your career.
You might love your career. You might spend most of your day on the job and hanging out with coworkers in your free time. You might be single like me and have no spouses, significant others, kids, or pets waiting for you at home at the end of the day.
Great. Bully for you!
What do you do when your career turns sour? Whom do you talk to if talking about your woes with coworkers, peers, managers, or customers would be inappropriate or potentially damaging to that career you love so well? You might talk to a stranger in the park, the bartender at a saloon, or a professional therapist, I suppose. But it’s also good to develop, grow, and maintain your relationships with family or non-work friends.
In this case, I would define your “home front” as the places and situations where you, Jane or John Q. Public, are not working. You’re a person, and you have needs and activities outside the workplace. I acquired the workaholic habit in my 30s and 40s and realized it was a bit unhealthy. So I made the decision to start calling my parents once a week (every Sunday) to check in. This has been going on for something like 14 years. The only times I’ve slipped have been when I was out of town and working. I also try to stay in regular phone contact with my sister and best friends. Email and Facebook and all the other social media are good so far as they go, but human beings often need voice contact or physical presence to feel truly comfortable.
And there will be those times when a stranger, bartender, or therapist won’t be of much use because they don’t know your work or you that well when all you really want is someone who knows and likes you and is willing to offer a sympathetic ear.
If you’re constantly working and focused on the job, that can be a little off-putting and can strain personal relationships, as people close to you will determine, correctly, that you care more about your work than them. Your “home front”–your family, friends, and other friendly acquaintances–are a necessary part of any professional’s life ecosphere, and it should be cultivated just as carefully as one’s work.