In a world that often sees things in black and white, there’s a big question that keeps popping up in my head: Are our job lives and personal lives on opposite sides, or do they actually help each other out?
About 15 years back, Professor Jeff Greenhaus, a big name in career management and work-life balance, raised this question. He’s the guy who literally wrote the book on managing careers. His famous article, “When Work and Family are Allies: A Theory of Work-Family Enrichment,” flipped the script on the idea that work is always the bad guy when it comes to a happy life.
Sadly, a lot of folks still see work as something to battle against. We often think our jobs are just there to pay the bills. But work’s about more than just the cash and perks. Following Greenhaus’ thinking, it’s high time we think about how our job roles can actually boost our life outside of work – like with our families, homes, and personal interests.
When you get it right, your job can actually make you a better person. To shed some light on this, let’s dive into three key ways – beyond the usual pay and benefits – that work can really add something special to your personal life.
So, here are three job-to-home boosts that can up your game in personal growth.
Let’s break it down: skills are things you’re really good at. We pick up loads of useful skills at work that come in handy at home, like figuring things out (cognitive skills), getting along with tricky people (interpersonal skills), staying cool under pressure, and juggling lots of things at once. Plus, dealing with tough stuff at work teaches us a lot about what it means to really succeed, whether that’s in everyone’s eyes or just our own.
As someone who wears a few academic hats, I’m always on the go. I teach, do research, give advice, and sit on committees. Figuring out what needs my attention first can be a real puzzle. Do I focus on my students, who essentially keep the lights on? Or should I help the newer colleagues who need to get their work out there? And what about when a client needs something ASAP? Thanks to my job, I’ve gotten pretty sharp at figuring out what to do first. After some hits and misses, I’ve got a solid plan for sorting out what needs doing and when. This isn’t just a work thing, though. My life outside of work is just as jam-packed, but now I’ve got a way to handle it all.
Looking at Things Differently
Seeing things in a new way means getting a fresh view on how to tackle a situation. Some key viewpoints we often bring from work to home life include valuing people’s different backgrounds and cultures, showing empathy to those facing challenges, and learning to build trust.
One job I really enjoy is leading research at Cloverleaf, a company that’s all about HR tech. The way we do things at Cloverleaf is a lot like what our product does. We aim to make everyone shine at work by being a fantastic team player, all through automated coaching. The Cloverleaf approach is to see the best in everyone, recognizing that each person brings something special to the table. Sure, it can be tricky to navigate the mix of personalities, habits, and likes among coworkers. But this way of seeing things has helped me in every part of my life, whether it’s dealing with my family, neighbors, or anyone else.
There are three big ways our work mindset can really make a difference in our lives outside the office. First up, feeling good about ourselves, like knowing we’re valuable (“I am worthy”) and believing in our abilities (“I can do this”). Next, there’s the “let’s do this” attitude, which includes being tough when times get hard (grit), staying strong during stressful moments (hardiness), and being clever and resourceful with little help (industriousness). And lastly, keeping a sunny outlook with lots of optimism and hope.
I once worked with this super cool tomato processing company in California, Morning Star. They run things differently – it’s a holacracy, meaning everyone’s on the same level, and there are no bosses. They rely on each other and committees to get things done. From gathering data and chatting with the team, it’s clear: these folks are super confident, take charge of their tasks, and are always looking to trust and support each other. They say working there not only makes them better at their job but better people in general. That’s what you call the best kind of mindset spillover.
Sometimes work can seem like a tough slog. But before you throw in the towel and label your job as just a way to pay the bills, remember: you’re also picking up skills and attitudes that can help you in all sorts of life areas.
Just changing how you see things can make a world of difference. It could turn your work and home life from rivals into teammates.