When Personal Problems Affect Your Job Performance

When Personal Problems Affect Your Job Performance | CorporetteWhen your work suffers because of personal problems you’ve been struggling with — and your supervisor has noticed — how can you turn things around? Reader J wonders…

I am a mid-level associate in Big Law. I switched firms in December of 2014. Today, I had my first review and it went very poorly — in Big Law words, “needs improvement across the board.” How do I get out from under my first review having been so terrible? Back story: When I joined this firm, my mom was approaching the one year mark after being diagnosed with stage IV cancer and was doing well. Within about 8 weeks, she got very sick, and over the course of the following 12 weeks, died a slow, painful death. My dad has become too depressed to take care of himself. My boyfriend of over a year left me. I have no real family support. My personal life has been atrocious, and while I tried my best in the office, I knew that I was falling short due to non-work demands/crises. Recently, I’ve felt back on my feet. I know that I can meet expectations and that my work product is, under normal conditions, solid and consistent and I love my job. How do I overcome this bad first impression?

Ouch, Reader J — I’m so sorry to hear that you’ve had such a rough year, and that it’s affected your work in such a negative way. I think you have a few options for recovering from a career setback like the one you’ve experienced:

[Read more…]

Your Job, Your Career, or You: When to Quit

hate job or hate careerWhen should you quit your entire career? How do you know when you’ve chosen the wrong one? How long should you give yourself before you quit — and how many jobs should you try in that career? Reader F has SUCH a great question about this:

Question for you: how do you know if you hate your particular JOB or hate your whole CAREER? I’m a first year associate in (the biggest of) big law, and I know it was supposed to be hard — I knew I was going to bill 200 hours a month coming into this! — but I think my position might be particularly hard because of people I work for. How do I know the difference between a challenging environment (and maybe should switch jobs) or a terrible career choice (and maybe should switch careers)? At what point do you throw in the towel and say, “It’s not them, it’s me”?

I can’t wait to hear what readers say here because I think this is something a LOT of people — particularly entry-level BigLaw lawyers — struggle with. We’ve talked about changing careers before (the pros and cons of different careers, as well as my own experience in career changes. While I had yet to find my fit in the law before I decided to focus on this blog, many of our readers are happy lawyers, and hopefully they’ll have some great advice for Reader F. For what it’s worth, though, here’s my take:

[Read more…]

When Fear and Low Self-Esteem Hold You Back

low self esteem and self confidenceWhat should you do when mental health issues are holding you back and making it difficult for you to build the career you want? Reader O wonders…

I have struggled with mental health problems for years and as a result have always worked really terrible jobs (combination of poorly paid, admin/dogsbody type roles with bullying managers). I know it’s a combination of fear and rock bottom self esteem that’s the problem. I am in my early twenties and have luckily never been unemployed but I’ve never liked any of the jobs I’ve had. I am planning on going back to university for a masters degree soon with the hope of working in either journal publishing or widening participation but how can I make sure, once I’ve graduated (again), that I don’t keep going for bad jobs? Any help would be greatly appreciated.

I’m so sorry to hear that, O. We’ve talked a bit about imposter syndrome, as well as discussing the book The Confidence Code, and I would encourage you to read both of those posts. I have a few thoughts for you, but I can’t wait to see what the readers say.

[Read more…]

Career Coaches: Why, How, When

career-coachesCareer coaches: how do you find one?  Why might you need one?  When in your career should you look for one?  Let’s discuss.  First, Reader J’s question:

Have you ever written about using the services of a career coach? How does one go about finding someone to work with? I work in tax/accounting in the NYC/NJ area and I need some career coaching at this point in my life. I have worked in public accounting so far and need some help advancing in my career aside from the technical skills.

Great question, Reader J!  I know readers were discussing this in this morning’s TPS thread.  While we’ve talked about career changes and other career transitions, we haven’t really talked about this. [Read more…]

Open Thread: How to Turn Off Work Mode

turning off work mode - toastI have a question for you ladies: how do you turn off work mode? Marie Forleo had a video on this a week ago, and I haven’t stopped thinking about it ever since I saw it, so I thought it would be an interesting conversation. We’ve talked before about how to relax, as well as about juggling work and life (um: a post I finished from the postpartum ward of the hospital…), but not in a long while. I was particularly struck by this part of Forleo’s video:

When it’s time for me to shift out of work mode, I think of myself as butter and [my fiance as] the toast.  … This comfort food is best when the toast is like firm and stiff and the butter is soft and velvety and creamy and spreads all over the place.  So I know that’s a little dumb, but it actually works — it’s a really easy metaphor to remember, and it affects my physicality, it affects my voice, and I can slip into it really fast.

I’ve been thinking about this far too much — I am so not warm butter! (I’m more like cold butter if anything — barely melting, maintaining its own little form and function.) So here’s the question, guys: How do you disconnect from work? Do you have an easy metaphor to think of (or some other strategy you use) when you’re with your loved ones?

(Updating, just to be clear: this struck me as an odd analogy also, which is why I wanted to talk about it here with you guys!  As commenter cbackson noted below, the desire to not to have to be such a hard-ass when you get home from work is not a gendered one — and as other commenters note, turning off work mode can be easier for men.  Maybe this gets into shades of the weekend you — do you have a very different persona at home? How do you slip into or out of it? Or is it enough for you to create rituals (changing clothes, putting away devices) to slip out of work mode?)

(Pictured: apricot and raisin toast, originally uploaded to Flickr by penguincakes.)

How to Relax After Work | Corporette

[Read more…]

Which Fall TV Are You Excited About?

Fall TV for Smart Women | CorporetteWhat fall TV is everyone excited about? What shows do you think are smart, or make good TV for smart women?   Which old friends are you happy to see return, and which new shows are you psyched about? (Any other shows on Netflix or Amazon Prime worth binge watching?) 

For my $.02 — we’ve finally gotten around to binge watching season 2 of Orange is the New Black, but beyond that it’s felt a bit quiet on the TV front.  So far I have my TiVo set for

  • Galavant — My brother convinced me to add this to the list after showing me this trailer.
  • Shark Tank — as I mentioned on CorporetteMoms, I only got into this show during my maternity leave, but I’m totally obsessed with it… I feel like there are a lot of great business lessons to learn, as well as lessons about great presentations as well as negotiations.
  • Selfie — I don’t even truly understand the premise, but John Cho and Karen Gillan? Sign me up.
  • How to Get Away With Murder — looks ridiculous, but hey, sometimes ridiculous is good
  • Forever — I only added it after seeing approximately 10 billion commercials for it during the Shark Tank marathon.  (My almost-4-month-old is apparently teething and having sleep regression issues already, so I’ve been watching a ton of TV while trying to nurse him and rock him to sleep.)

We’re still watching Masters of Sex, but I’ve been underwhelmed by the second season.  I realllly want to see Outlander… but not enough to sign up for Starz.  I have no idea when The Americans comes back on, but I’m totally obsessed with the show.  (And, annoyingly, everyone I know has had a Keri Russell sighting in my neighborhood except me — grumble!)

In terms of old favorites, I guess I’m excited for Modern Family, Hannibal (how are they going to get out of that season finale?), The Mindy Project (ooh, I always forget about this show but love it), Castle, and Game of Thrones (although, like The Americans, I have no idea when that’s coming back on).  (Ditto for Mad Men, although for some reason I am preparing myself to be disappointed in the final season.)  For binge watching, I highly recommend Veep, House of Cards, Orange is the New Black, and Silicon Valley.

Ladies, let’s hear from you — what are you looking forward to? Any new shows I should definitely add to my TiVo wish list? Any old favorites I’m not watching?  (Another Q: how much tv do you watch? Do you take advantage of the ability to watch wherever and watch at the gym, the office on your lunch hour, or other places that are not your couch?)