Well, here I am, my life upside down from one end to the other. I recently found out I’m getting divorced. Funny way to say it I know…I knew it was coming, but it still didn’t help me prepare for it. One day I was living that life and the next day I woke and now I’m living this life. So if you’ve been through divorce or any other major life changing event, you know you still have to get out of bed and keep on moving, especially if you are now the sole breadwinner. But what if you need a little time to get it together? What if you need time to get a new place to live or take care of goodness knows what comes along with your tragedy or major life-changing event?
Should we tell our employers or our clients our situation, so they know why we are late on a project or not performing up to par or need to take extra days off of work? And if we do tell them, how much should they be privy to? Since I have a business of my own, I feel if I let my clients in on my personal business it makes me appear weak and faulty somehow.
I have always strived for a perfect work ethic: always on time, never miss a deadline, and go the extra mile. I say I strive, but don’t always make the mark. Sometime life just gets in the way. The past two years for me have been one misfortune after another…it’s like someone gave me the evil eye or put a hex on me (not that I believe in that kind of thing), but it sure makes you wonder. So with all these interruptions in my personal life that affected my work life, I felt compelled to tell my clients everything and hope for the best.
I went for it and just laid everything on the line. I had to tell my clients why I was going to be late on projects: I was trying to find a place to live, spending time ironing out all the details, moving—then having to use a wireless internet device that was slow and undependable until my cable got hooked up. Did my clients balk? Did they drop me like a hot potato? Did they tell me I had failed and was a disappointment to them? No, not one of them had an issue with it. They worked with me to find ways to get the work done and were more concerned with my well being than their own projects. Sure, I lost almost a week’s worth of income from not getting the hours in I needed, but I kept all of my clients and within a week we were back on track. I have thus since made up the money that I lost because I have been working like a mad woman 15 hours a day. I think part of that is coming from trying to prove myself to my clients again. Trying to show them I am strong and that I am not suffering mentally or emotionally from the divorce or change in my life. But you know what, I don’t think it is necessary; I think they never stopped believing in me and they may even be remembering when they or a close family member or friend went through something similar.
I don’t know about your situation, or if you have ever faced telling an employer or client that you’re having a hard time personally, but I think if you have proven yourself to them over time and they see your commitment to your work and that you are reliable and trustworthy, then having to take some personal time or asking for a little understanding while you get it together will not jeopardize your work or income. There is really no separation between our work lives and our personal lives; they are interwoven and anyone who says differently in my opinion is fooling themselves. I think the worst idea is to try to keep everything to yourself. If you don’t share at least a hint of your troubles, you run the risk of your employer thinking your work ethic has simply taken a turn for the worst and they will have no reason to give you the benefit of the doubt.
Have you been through this? Have you had to bring your personal life into your work or tell an employer or client your situation? How did it turn out?