By Timothy Carroll and reprinted from the IRS Intranet Spotlight website June 11, 2013.
June is National Employee Wellness Month. Timothy Carroll (IRS, Chicago) shares his journey to achieving wellness in all aspects of his life.While I served in the U.S. Marines, I was in the best physical and mental shape of my life. I was planning to spend my career in the military, but shortly after re-enlisting, I suffered an on-the-job accident that resulted in an honorable discharge under medical conditions. Suddenly my world turned upside-down and I had no clue what to do with my life. I began working in restaurants just to pay the bills and worked my way up through the management ranks, going from restaurant to restaurant. My health steadily declined and I didn’t care about anything or anyone, especially myself. I continued to alienate my friends and family with my negative attitude and blame everyone else for my problems. My attitude and health only continued to get worse and I was working 60-70 hours per week.
Ten years following my release from active duty and days away from my 33rd birthday, I suffered a mild heart attack. My recovery time was going to be at least four to six months, depending on how quickly my body recovered, but I was asking if I could go back to work the following day. The doctor looked at me and said, “This is your body’s way of telling you to slow down” and that I should consider changing careers if I wanted to live past 40.
I took the doctor’s advice and worked lower-stress jobs in the restaurant business, but I eventually went back to management and knew within a year that I was ready to slow down again. I returned to school and earned my associate, bachelor and master’s degrees in public affairs, policy analysis and administration. I also took courses through H&R Block for preparing tax returns, specializing in small business and military.
My Veterans Affairs counselor, a retired Navy chief, began her career in the government and so I began applying to different agencies. Since I have a tax background and understand how to navigate the system, I knew that IRS was my best choice. It’s now been 10 years since I decided to change my life. I am in a more positive place and I feel much better about who I am and where I need to be. The heart disease that was present during my heart attack is no longer there, my blood pressure is under control and I finally have a positive attitude about my life and myself.
The most important thing I learned is to focus on self-advancement and to leave negativity out of the office—it only creates trouble and an unhealthy environment. Professional wellness is up to you but it’s also a team effort, what one person does or doesn’t do to live in a healthy manner can have a domino effect on everyone in the office. Focus on work during the day but when you get home focus on your family, and always remember to set aside some time that is just for you.
Take stock of who you are and what you want to be and don’t worry about what everyone else thinks. If you do your job to the best of your ability and carry a positive attitude about yourself, everything else will fall into place.
IRS employees may use the IRS Employee Assistance Program (accessible inside IRS firewall).
- All IRS Wellness services are completely confidential and cost free to IRS employees.
- All IRS employees and their immediate family members can use the program services.
- Services are available 7 days a week, 24 hours a day by calling toll-free 1-800-977-7631 (TDD: 800-697-0353 or by visiting www.Guidanceresources.com. First-time users will need to enter their IRS Company ID, (get from inside the firewall) when prompted.
- All services are provided by ComPsych, Corporation.
Are you a veteran?
Visit the VA website for information on assistance, benefits and programs available to you.