Career Advice: Keep your personal life separated from professional life.

Career Advice: Keep your personal life separated from professional life.

“It’s not personal, it’s business” is a memorable quote from the classic Meg Ryan film “You’ve Got Mail”. A film that captures the very real problem of how, and when, to separate your personal feelings from your business decisions.

Personal and professional are two different spheres and the separation of personal and professional is as important for a healthy lifestyle just as the separation of church and state is to a happy democracy. But this has been a really common problem that a lot of entrepreneurs and business owners have, is that, their work lives and their personal lives tend to mix together. People need to look at separation from two perspectives: inner and outer. A separation needs to be made in our minds as to where the boundaries between work and home are, and to recognise where it is acceptable for those boundaries to mix (and where it is not too).

If you want to succeed in your chosen field, you cannot always allow emotions to get in your way because it is a business with goals, and everything else falls into two categories- Things that help you achieve those goals and things that would not. Separating your career and your personal life can be extremely sticky, and unfortunately there will be times when you have to preference one over the other. What you choose in each instance is entirely up to you, but you cannot, and should not, feel guilty in those times.

Here is a list of common situations where personal life and work could intersect, and how to handle them.

  1. Friends that fall short

It is not always that you bond over work, it could be by discussing your love life, favorite TV show, etc. Which is great until you realise that your friend is not quite as good at their job as you are at yours and if they work with you, that could be an issue. They may not be serious about work or maybe it is just that they do not have the talent to. Either way, you need to treat them as you would to any other co-worker. Whether you are assigning work or evaluating their performance to the boss. You need to constantly remind yourself that you are not personally responsible for their actions/attitude. Your friends will understand that if they are really your friend.

  1. Learn to say no.

Friends may take advantage of you by asking you to cover for them. That may be okay with you but you need to take a minute to consider how that behavior might alienate your other co-workers. You need to think if they are willing to the same for you. If this is affecting your work, you need to consider putting a stop to it. Explain to your mate how important your work is to you and how doing favors could affect them. Make them understand that you will be there for them off the clock.

  1. Do not worry about leaving others out

Ambitious people move up to reach their goals. Sometimes while you move up, it means maybe having to leave your friends. If you have a bond over shared ambition, then moving up is a little hard. They may resent the fact that you have been selected for a promotion instead of them when they have worked just as hard as you have or they might be put into an uncomfortable position of suddenly you becoming their superior. That may seem a little too awkward because everything has changed. You need to accept it and remind yourself that whenever you are at a loss of how to proceed, remember that work comes first; not you, not them but work! If you can remain professional, respectful and appreciative, the rest will fall into place. Take a good look at your own priorities before talking to your friend.

  1. Know your distractions and avoid them

Everyone has certain things that could distract them from work- Social media, gossiping, playing games, etc. There could be chances that certain people may distract you with interesting news/ gossip which could waste your time. Chit chats may go out of control without your notice so there needs to be some control over it. You know if you are a person who goes out of control while chitchatting with your mates so make sure you do those when you have completed all your work. You need to keep away everything that distracts you during work hours. Delegate your maximum attention to what you have to do and make sure you keep a checklist of your daily priorities.

  1. Avoid talking work matters at any private functions

You might be at wedding or a birthday party- which is a time that you enjoy with your colleagues keeping work aside. It would not be acceptable to ruin your colleague’s mood talking about unnecessary work matters, making them feel uncomfortable. You may be extremely unhappy about your colleague’s work or there could be other work related reasons but you must always remember that there needs to be a fine line between work and personal life. Work matters or issues need to be directly raised during work hours and not during times where everyone has sat down to enjoy a little.

  1. Be honest about how you feel.

Your friends may ask you favors more like asking you to recommend your customers their restaurant and you have been nothing but extremely supportive in this case, if you really do not like to do that. So if you really dislike mixing business with personal matters, which is your choice, you have every right to those feelings just as much as your friends do to theirs. At such instances, communication and courage is the key. Be tactful, be honest, but you must tell your friend how you feel. Offer them help in other possible ways. Be a friend, but if your career matters to you, then also be a professional.

Our lives are made up of different parts- Home, Family, work, and friends. Making them all work together is a lifelong struggle. Being honest with yourself and those around you is the first step.

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