Americans work longer than any other industrialized nation, both in terms of hours per week and in terms of the years until retirement. Perhaps we just love working more than other countries…except that more than half of Americans surveyed are unhappy at work, 52.3%, in fact. That number has improved slightly from an all-time low in 2010 but still remains significantly lower than decades past.
All of that time spent at work can spill over into your personal life, for better or for worse. Here are 5 ways your career can affect your personal life.
1. Your Friends
Since the majority of working hours are likely spent at work, your co-workers often become your friends. Whether they go out for drinks, host semi-regular poker nights, or tend to just go home and hibernate each night, the social patterns of your co-workers often become your own.
If you have fun at work and have similar social expectations, that can be a good thing. If you are more or less social than your average co-worker, you may find yourself feeling lonely or excluded.
2. Your Stress
A fast-paced, high-stress working environment can spill over into your personal life. If work keeps you overly busy, you may find yourself wanting to just crash when you get home. Or, if stress becomes your new normal, you may find yourself also stressed at home. How you handle career stress can spill over into your personal life.
3. Your Health
Speaking of stress, workplace habits can have a great deal of impact on personal health. Sitting at a computer all day? That can negatively affect your physical well-being. Performing repetitive tasks? That can have long-term health consequences. Even the ways in which you and your co-workers handle workplace upsets, how engaged you are at work, and the quality of your work-related health insurance all impact your physical well-being.
4. Your Complacency
If you find you drag yourself to work each morning, stick with a job simply because you don’t want to/don’t feel confident about making a change, or have otherwise grown complacent about work, that complacency can spill over into your personal life. Feelings of dissatisfaction, unrest or inadequacy can all be difficult to leave at work when you go home at the end of the day.
5. Your Amusement
Just as complacency doesn’t always end at the end of the day, the same could be said for your entertainment. If you love what you do, the people you work with, or the impact you make on the world through your career, it’s easy for that to spill over into having more fun in life.
Bonus: How to Have Fun at Work
Given the impact on your personal life that your career can have, here are 5 ways to have fun at work:
- Set targets, which you share as a team, make meeting them a game with a reward.
- Pause and share when someone does well (like sales teams often do); brag on each other.
- Develop your own, fun internal communication system, like the Trader Joe’s bell.
- Hold a themed get-together, not necessarily just a holiday party (think paintball or go-karting).
- Add some perks, like an espresso bar or unlimited snacks.
A culture of fun in the workplaces is created. Getting it started usually takes both buy-in and a few creative people placed in charge. With a little-coordinated effort, and perhaps baby steps at first, you’ll soon find you create an environment in which employees are engaged and inspired.
In that way, your career can have an incredibly positive effect on your personal life.