Work Baggage, Is That You?
How’s your week going so far? ❤️🔥
Over here, we’re finally over the jet lag and settled into our normal routine: school’s started for the kids, coaching sessions have resumed for me.
And we celebrated this guy’s 9th birthday this weekend:
Here's to nine glorious years of motherhood and being the go-to parent. As a treat to myself, I'm carving out some extra "me-time" this week. The highlight? Absolute, blissful silence.
As I sit here, basking in the quiet while crafting this edition of the newsie, my mind wanders to the journey my professional life has taken over those 9 years. A journey that, for better or worse, has been heavily influenced by work baggage.
And that brings me to the burning question I’m putting on the marquee this week...
How can I shed the weight of my work baggage to boost the joy I feel in my work?
Quick announcement before we dive in:
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Alright, let’s dive in.
You know how the workplace can sometimes feel like a chaotic airport's baggage claim area?
We strut in with our own suitcases stuffed to the brim with experiences, expectations, and emotions — let's dub this our 'work baggage'.
Some of us travel light, while others lug around bags that could give Santa’s sack a run for its money. This hefty load can bog down our job satisfaction, productivity, and even flip our mental health on its head.
We accumulate work baggage by being surrounded by toxic or negative people who seem to get off on getting us down, when our brilliant ideas are treated like invisible ink, or when we’re confined in a professional straitjacket, unable to stretch and grow. (Among other terrible experiences.)
It happens to all of us.
The other day, I tuned into a podcast by Jay Shetty where he confessed his work baggage included feeling like he was seated at the kid's table, not being taken seriously or allowed to contribute as he wished. And this guy is practically a celebrity.
Whether you're Joe Schmo or Hollywood's darling, we all hoard some work baggage. If we don't process it and toss it out, it can anchor us down and tarnish our future faster than spilled coffee on a white shirt.
Through my own rollercoaster ride, I’ve picked up quite an assortment of work baggage:
My first job out of college: overhearing someone say I landed the job through nepotism, making my achievements and skills seem as valuable as Monopoly money.
Launching a business at 25: a strained co-founder relationship, abusive clients, and a mountain of self-doubt.
Working at a venture-backed company: having critiques of my physical appearance immortalized in the company wiki, or when the CEO replied “LOL” at my payment being a week late (yep, all that actually happened.)
Those are just some of my own experiences. The stories I've heard from others could make a hyena stop laughing:
A boss who takes his shirt off during Zoom meetings (?!)
One-on-ones treated like optional extras and canceled more often than not
Colleagues who dodge any actual work that needs to be done
Managers who write a daily email logging all “mistakes” made
The list is as endless as a Monday morning. And it all cuts deep.
When we go through things like these, we end up with work behaviors that are no bueno:
Consistent negativity, complaining, and pessimism about work
Burnout with chronic fatigue, decreased productivity, and loss of interest in work
Holding onto past failures, conflicts, or mistakes and repeatedly bringing them up
Strained relationships with colleagues and feeling misunderstood
Constantly working overtime, inability to disconnect from work, or feeling guilty while taking time off
Persistent feelings of anxiety or depressive mood related to work
Feeling stuck in a job and unable to progress
Everyone reacts differently, of course, but experiencing one or more of them could be a sign, a need for professional support to process it all and move forward.
Because when you do overcome work baggage, there’s such a lovely experience waiting for you on the other side.
A healthier work-life balance, renewed positivity and motivation at work, along with a productivity boost? Yes please.
Not to mention tour relationships with team members will improve, paving the way for greater career advancement. Plus, your overall mental health could see a significant uplift.
Ditch the Luggage Tags
Alright, so we've talked about the load of work baggage, now let's get into how to shed it.
Below, I’ll share some of the steps I walk through with clients, in the hopes they work for you, too:
Spot it: First off, you gotta recognize that you've got some work baggage. This might call for some soul-searching or even a chat with a pro.
Own it: Realize that everyone's got their own set of work baggage. It's part of the job journey, and you’re not alone in having it. Accepting it is half the battle.
Get some backup: If your work baggage feels like a ton of bricks, reach out for help. A buddy, family member, mentor, or coach can lend a listening ear. They can help gain a fresh perspective on your work, finding meaning in your role and lightening the load you’re carrying. (Over the years, I’ve processed so much of my own baggage with my coaches.)
Draw the line: If work's taking over, time to set some boundaries. Make work hours, take breaks, or carve out a workspace at home. (If anyone pushes back, remind them of many much better you’ll be at your job when you’re refreshed and ready to hit the ground running.)
Stay mindful: Activities like meditation, deep-breathing, or yoga can help keep stress and anxiety in check. You may have heard that before, but everyone says it because it’s true.
Self-care for the win: Regular workouts, eating right, and getting enough sleep are key for maintaining your mental health and tackling work baggage head-on. (For me, sleep is a non-negotiable. If I don’t sleep enough hours, it ripples out into every single area of my life, including work.)
Level up: If you're feeling underqualified or not good enough, invest in your professional growth. Take courses, webinars, or keep up with trends in your field. (You can learn anything. I believe in you.)
I know that’s a lot, but just get started.
Because work baggage doesn’t have to be a forever thing. With the right tools and support, we can unpack, address, and ultimately drop-kick this baggage out of our lives.
You’ll feel lighter and do even better work.
(And if you come across someone on your team who has some work baggage of their own, have some compassion for them. Understand what they’re going through, and try not to take it personally. Maybe pass along this email or have a sincere chat with them? Whatever you think would work best.)
If you want to make room for a brighter work experience, you can ditch the luggage tags and leave the baggage behind.
You got this. ✌️
All the best vibes ✨
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