Career Know-How


Find Jobs, Post Resumes

Ask Sue 

Choosing Careers 

Job Search Strategies

Interview Tips 

Resume Tool Kit 

Cover Letters 

Sample Resumes 


Home Business  

Human Resources & Management  




Stumbling Over the Same Blocks at Work and at Home: How Our Personal Relationship Patterns Follow Us to The Office

by Leslie Godwin, MFCC, Career & Life-Transition Coach

How healthy is your relationship with your career? Do you swear you'll quit your job because it's so frustrating, only to agree to stick it out when your boss promises everything will be different if you'll just fix this one last disaster? Do you love certain things about your job, but do other aspects make it unpleasant a lot of the time? Do you hope for a job that you will love deeply and consistently, that will help you feel satisfied, useful, and productive?

A career path is like long term personal relationships in many ways, and our relationship style comes out in the relationship with our careers in various ways.

1. "I Can't Stand it Here Another Minute...and I've Said That for Years"

What This Relationship Looks Like:

  • You know the relationship isn't working but you're afraid to leave.
  • You let out frustration by complaining, which means you lose energy that would help you find something better...and you depress yourself and others around you.

Personal Relationship Aspect:

The above description of your relationship with work probably sounds very familiar. You know you should leave, but you feel needed often enough to stay hooked in.

How To Get Out:

  • Instead of complaining, take small -- but definite -- steps to find out what you would enjoy doing.
  • Ask yourself why you're afraid to leave such an unhappy relationship. Be very honest about this. Think about how you'd feel if you left. Ask yourself what you might get out of knowing that a major source of your problems is "outside" you (as opposed to seeing it as an internal conflict.)

2. "But They Need Me"

What This Relationship Looks Like:

  • You get such a powerful ego boost from being needed that you're willing to put up with almost anything.
  • You don't believe your needs are as important as your boss', co-workers', and/or customers' needs.

Personal Relationship Aspect:

Just insert "partner's needs" above where it says "boss', co-workers', and/or customers' needs." It probably says a lot about your love life.

How To Get Out:

It's critical to understand why you get such a charge from being needed. You'll have to confront your ego's need for this kind of gratification if you want to have a healthier relationship with your career. If you obey your ego's need to be needed, you may eventually leave your job, but you'll always be capable of being held hostage by someone that says they can't do without you.

3. "I'm In Control"

This was my relationship with work before my transition to a healthier worklife (and homelife.)

What This Relationship Looks Like:

  • You prefer to manage all the details of your job, which means you work very long hours and/or are very stressed.
  • You get a lot of your self-esteem from employees and/or peers coming to you for answers. This makes you feel in control of your world at work.
  • You have a very hard time leaving work at work. You may be avoiding intimacy or stress at home. It's easier to follow the structure of work than the lack of it at home.

Personal Relationship Aspect:

  • Women: You have a hard time looking up to your husband as head of the family.
  • Men: You may want to control ALL aspects of work and home life. Note: Most religions specify separate, but critically important, roles for each gender. You may not aspire to these, however.
  • You want to be in control of your comfort zone at home, and your partner's involvement in the areas where you need to be in control feels intrusive. You're not sure how to collaborate.

How To Get Out:

  • Identify when you hold onto projects that could be delegated. Pay attention to how you feel when you are the expert helping others. You have to spot where your ego gets rewarded to change this relationship for the better.
  • Having a meaningful life outside of work is your #1 job. Then you'll be able to leave work earlier, delegate more...all the things you know you should be doing.
  • Cultivate a relationship with something that transcends you. In 12-Step programs, for example, a Higher Power is a humbling concept to the addict/alcoholic/co-dependent who feels that they control everything in their lives. Devotion to, and gratitude for, an awe-inspiring God or Higher Power is the antidote to the illusion that we can (or should be) in control of most aspects of our lives.

What is your relationship like with your career? Is it similar to your relationships in your personal or family life? That would make sense. Lifelong behavior patterns are usually consistent. Don't forget that you may demonstrate one type of behavior AND it's the cliche that two opposites are 'the flip side of the same coin.'


We don't have a totally different set of relationship problems between our home and work lives. Actually, this is a good thing. Once we get a deeper understanding of how we get in our own way in one area, we are more than halfway to resolving these difficulties wherever they appear in our lives.

Leslie Godwin, MFCC is a Career & Life-Transition Coach, Writer, and Speaker. She publishes a free email newsletter on career and life transition. For information, email and mention that you'd like to be on the email newsletter list.

Share This Page




Source of images:

Privacy Statement

The information compiled on this site is Copyright 1999-2016 by Attard Communications, Inc. and by the individual authors.
Career Know-How is a service mark of Attard Communications, Inc.