Personal vs. Professional

At what point in your career is it acceptable to intertwine your personal life with your professional aspirations?

Most people say never. Others say it depends. I say always.

No – I do not mean share the details of your family drama with your co-worker or use company time to plan your best friend’s birthday party. I’m referring to an aspect of your personal life that is a bit more discreet and sometimes overlooked.

Take for example the time you have spent training for your half marathon. Have you ever thought that maybe the personal time you have spent running was a key contributor to developing yourself as a diligent and progressive professional? Or have you ever given credit to the fact that just by being a parent, you have unintentionally developed the core qualities of a leader – patience, intuition, and the natural ability to nurture and mentor employees?

It’s intriguing to me that the word “personal” has been given such a negative connotation in the workforce that we don’t even give it a second thought. In fact, we spend most of our effort separating the two that we neglect to appreciate that our personal trials and tribulations have set the foundation of our hard work and developed the confident and strong professional we are today.

Can you imagine how happier we would be and the joy we would have working 40+ hours a week if we could just be “ourselves” at work? We could be a parent to the younger employees or be an endurance runner on the project that others have already given up on. What if you love playing video games on your personal time? Why not transfer that focus to beat level 10 to exceeding your company’s revenue goal this quarter. Love shopping? Start dressing to impress and feel more confident at your next executive meeting. Is traveling your thing? Plan the next team outing and go somewhere different; consider it your next staycation. The list goes on…

If we truly combine our personal and professional life, I strongly believe that we would not only excel in our professional career but we would have more fun doing it. It’s not in everyone’s destiny to get paid to do the same in their personal and professional life. Unfortunately, we are not all reality stars. The only thing we can do is stop considering one more important than the other. We can stop complaining and start shifting our perspective. We can start being the high-performing professional Monday through Friday, but don’t forget to do the same with your personal attributes. Repeat the behavior on Saturday and Sunday, and don’t forget to do this for the rest of your professional life. After all, isn’t that what they meant when they told us to “make a living doing what you love to do”?

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