How do I LET GO of personal disappointments in my career and not take it out on my family?

The Letting Go Pro’s Response:

This is a great question because many people have trouble separating what happens at work with what happens at home. Being able to understand and apply the secrets to Letting Go of Stuff can really come in handy during the drive (or ride if you take the subway) from work to home.

There are two periods in which we hold on to disappointments at work:

  1. During that immediate trip from work to home at the end of the day after experiencing a disappointment.
  2. On a continuing basis as we replay the disappointing situation in our minds eye. Often we replay situations for many months and even years after they happen. It is possible to let them go and not remain in a rut. It is extremely important not to bring these disappointments home and allow them to destroy the peace and harmony that exists there. Home should be the place where you find refuge from the challenges and stress related to work.

BELOW are TIPS I use for Letting Go of Stuff related to disappointments at work. I will offer suggestions for the immediate ride home after work, and then overall suggestions for letting go of stuff related to past disappointments at work. Generally, the first Letting Go of Stuff step for dealing with past disappointments is to:

  1. Recognize and acknowledge that you have this stuff/challenge and tend to take out your frustrations from work, on the family. Once you “catch yourself in the act” of being frustrated at home, you can begin to change/manage that behavior, or let it go.

For the daily journey back home after experiencing a disappointment at work you can:

  1. Use deep breathing techniques for at least three minutes shortly after you get underway.
  2. Spend five minutes seeing yourself, in your minds eye, doing what will make you happy, peaceful, and joyous once you get home. This is important as it allows you to begin to truly transition from the work environment to home.
  3. Read, play your favorite music, or do whatever you can to continue to transition. Some may call home and talk to their significant other and/or children; others may call friends to catch up. Do whatever will relax you and help you to transition. OR use the Fun Stuff on our website.
  4. Finally, resume visualizing yourself being at home, doing what you want to do for that evening. Do this for the rest of the journey to the house.

Overall, when it comes to Letting Go of Stuff related to past disappointments at work:

  1. Try not to PERSONALIZE what happens at work. More often than not, decisions made that affect you, are not specifically about you. You must be mindful of this at all times. Otherwise you will end up personalizing everything that happens at work, and that is unhealthy.
  2. Use the Self Managing Grid to help you to remember to focus energy, time, and action on what you can control. The grid is a personal development tool designed to help one, in a moment’s notice, consciously choose to let go of what cannot be controlled. This grid has helped thousands to move beyond the emotional impact of past experiences. I designed it years ago and have dedicated an entire chapter in my book to the grid. Learn More.
  3. The grid also helps one to STAY FOCUSED on taking positive action. In other words, don’t let one disappointment keep you from continuing to be as honest, pleasant, and uplifting as possible at work. One way to maintain this is to never give up on accepting challenges to advance your self. Always set goals to be better as an employee at completing projects, meeting deadlines, and the like. You may find that actually setting goals to do this will keep you focused on moving forward rather than stuck in a rut. This is a PERSONAL CHOICE and COMMITMENT you must make to the most important person in your life you.
  4. If there is someone at home who can help, then ask this person to support you in not bringing “stuff” home. I call this person the “STUFF SPOTTER”. This person has your best interest at heart and can lovingly identify, or spot, you bringing work frustrations home. This person can say to you, “Honey, you have to let that stuff go, you are home now.” Most importantly, you have to be willing to allow them to say this and you not react defensively – otherwise, getting the support will not work.
  5. A big part of effectively Letting Go of StuffГЇВї. is to maintain a balance among the various activities in your life. For example, I have to make sure I force myself to take vacations, otherwise, because I love what I do, I will work all the time. Work for me is different because I love what I do, so it does not feel like work. But for many, that is not the case. Therefore, balance is most important. It is critical to set goals in other aspects of your life so you can spend time thinking about and participating in activities not associated with work. Doing this also represents a level of commitment to self.
  6. Finally, what works well for me, and I also recommend it to my clients, is to keep a personal journal. In the journal you can release, through writing, some of your frustrations related to disappointments at work. And over time, you can track your reactions to and feelings surrounding these situations. Tracking your reactions and feelings allows you to (among other things) set goals to change how you respond to future situations at work. I am always surprised when I read in my journal how I reacted to a situation in the past, and then read how I responded to a similar situation much later after attempting to make a change in my response. It is empowering to see yourself grow as you let go of old unwanted habits and take on new desired behavior on purpose.

Although these are not the cure all, the suggestions can certainly help one to let go of past disappointments at work, and not take the frustrations home to the family. I use them in my personal life, as well as with my clients whom I coach.

These steps work; however, I refer to these and the seven steps to Letting Go of Stuff. as secrets not because we don’t know about them, but because we do not do them. In other words, we treat them as though they are secrets, when actually; they are there for us all to apply at any time.


Darren L Johnson is an expert on Letting Go of StuffВ® and is known as the Letting Go Pro. He has written and published numerous articles on letting go. In 1994 Darren created and began teaching Letting Go of StuffВ®.

During his twenty-five year career stint, Darren has worked with fortune 100 companies such as General Motors and Nissan, USA. As a speaker and consultant he combines personal experience, theory on change, and proven methods – all leading to success for his clients in the process of letting go of stuff.

In 2009 he founded the National Letting Go of Stuff Day and in 2007 founded a 501c3 NGO called the Global Business & Organization Development Foundation.

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