Myth Buster: Career is NOT Separate from Personal Life

There is a lot of talk out there that professional life is separate from your personal life. I am guilty of this perspective, too. It’s what we learn to believe because once upon a time, before smart phones and laptops, a worker can leave the work at the office at the end of the day and come home.

To be honest, there is no way to leave work at the office entirely all the time. Say that you had a stressful day, week, or even month, most likely even if you’re home, you’re probably thinking about what you need to do at work to make things better, right? Your mind wanders far from what you’re doing at home and the stress is getting to you in your personal life.

Maybe your significant other notices and then gets upset that you’re not paying attention to your home life. Perhaps your friends want time with you and you’re not up for it.

There is this fantasy out there that you can leave work and your professional worries behind and that the rest of your life can still be easy-peasy. Even without cell phones and laptops and wifi, your professional life cannot possibly separate from your personal one.

Now knowing what you know, the question is what do you want to do with your intermingling professional and personal life (not lives, because you only have one!)?

How I Found Balance Between Work and Play in my Life

For many years, I chose not to have a balance between professional and personal commitments. I would give up my personal ones for moving my career forward. I was tethered to a blackberry (yup, you heard me) and a laptop. I would check my work email on weeknights and weekends. Sometimes, I even worked on days off or vacations.

And I hated my life.

I felt empty and unfulfilled despite having a career I loved. I wondered why my professional life was so successful while my personal life felt lackluster, not fun and disconnected at best.

I didn’t yet understand that the stresses of my professional life were carrying over into my personal life. As I took on more work and more travel, I became more stressed, burned out and disconnected to the rest of my life.

Then, when I had a fight with my boyfriend at the time or a difficult conversation with a family member, I often poured my whole self into my work, in hopes of finding happiness there while avoiding the areas of my life where happiness was missing.

It was not until my boyfriend of 3 years and I broke up that I fully saw how unfulfilling my lifestyle had become, and it was through work with my coach that I viewed my life in separate and distinct pieces (mostly the professional and personal ones).

Seeing the Parts of My Life as One

Through my work with my coach, I began to see how my perspective of separate personal and professional lives was a myth I was living by. One would bleed into the other through my emotions and experiences. If my personal life was falling apart, I would focus on work. If my work life was stressing me out, I told people in my personal life.

There is no way around it. You have one life. I have one life. And when you start to find joy, you will be able to find it in the personal and professional aspects of your life.

After breaking up with my ex, I started by acknowledging my one life and began looking at the parts that I could easily add joy into. This started with taking care of myself outside of my career. It meant I went to yoga and capoeira classes, I set up game nights with friends, I went away for a long weekend, I had nights to myself where I painted, crocheted or created some form of art project that was fun for me.

I noticed that as I added into the personal side of my life, I found my professional one also improving. I came in less stressed because I took the weeknights and weekends to use other parts of my brain and relax and replenish myself. I saw more creative solutions to problems. And I began hearing that people saw me happier, more productive and enjoyable to work with.

You can either have a negative bleed between personal and professional aspects of your life or positive one. Once I saw what I could do to make both aspects even better, it was easy to make that choice.

To living your life to the fullest in ALL aspects!