Any of this sound familiar? You're feeling irritated, resentful, and angry. You're defined by your relationship. You ditch your friends on a regular basis, and they're complaining about it.
If you felt like this in your romantic relationship, you'd be getting ready to have The Talk. So why stay in a job that makes you unhappy?
It could be a sign you're too emotionally attached and it's time to break up with your job. I don't mean quit—unless you need to. (Take this quiz to find out if you should quit.)
Breaking up with your job means creating emotional boundaries with your job.
Just as with a relationship, there needs to be a balance of give and take. If you're giving more than you're getting, it's a recipe for disaster and burnout.
When you're "in too deep" with your job, you make every decision for the benefit of the company. When you’re just friends with your job, you make choices to benefit yourself, knowing your success on the job reflects positively on you and furthers your career. Ambition requires an element of detachment, which in a job is healthy.
How to set emotional boundaries with your job.
Acknowledge that you work for a business. All of the decisions it makes are business decisions, not personal attacks on you. You may or may not agree with how your company chooses to do business, but it's not always your decision.
However, you are a business person. Every choice you make in your job is a business decision. Once you start consciously making decisions to benefit the business of you, you'll feel liberated and less emotionally attached.
How to maintain emotional boundaries with your job.
Stay engaged with your work and find new ways to connect with it. But do it from a perspective of what your job can bring you. Think about the skills you can develop, connections you can make, and lifestyle changes it can support that benefit you.
Bring your whole self to your job. We often compartmentalize ourselves by being different people at work, in our relationships, or
when we’re engaged in our passions. Instead, bring all those parts of you to your job; you'll find that you're more engaged, passionate, and successful in all areas of your life.
For example, I found that I got more excited about my job when I brought my passion for healthy living and creativity to the workplace —talking with my team about life balance, taking extra time to think about how to make my PowerPoint slides more innovative and powerful. I also bring some of my work self into my private life, using my project management skills to create a Thanksgiving battle plan. I only get better when I flex all my muscles.
It can be easy to fall back into old habits. If you’re in a negative work environment, don’t get sucked in emotionally as you may have in the past. While a negative work environment is generally beyond your control, how you react is completely up to you. If it starts getting that bad: take a time out. Got for a walk, grab lunch, work from home, take a personal day.
Ultimately, it's in everyone's best interest to keep the negativity at bay, so do what you need to do.
Breaking up with your job does not mean that you can't be passionate about your work, and is not a call for complacency.
Just as you can have close relationships with your friends, you can have an engaged relationship with your work. But just because you're close with your friends doesn't mean you sleep with them, and just because you're passionate about your work doesn't mean that you're defined by it.
The clients I have helped successfully set emotional boundaries with their jobs say they feel like a burden has been lifted off their chests.
Just like ending a dysfunctional relationship is both painful and liberating, so is emotionally extricating yourself from your job. But if you do it and still remain friends, you'll be empowered to make the best decisions for yourself, both in your job and in your life, and most likely be a better employee, too.