Should Our Professional and Personal Lives be Separate?

It has become commonplace in our society to view our professional and personal lives as two separate entities. What you believe, how you think and act, and what you do in your personal life is one thing, and how you do these things in your professional life is another.

This fits right in with our culture today of compartmentalizing everything. You have your hobbies, work, spousal duties, perhaps religious activities, parental duties, you name it. Many of these responsibilities, so we think, require us to behave certain ways and therefore should be separated from each other.

But is this really the best way to live? Should our “professional” and “personal” lives really entail us to act differently depending on where we are and what we are doing?

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The concept of having to separate personas, if you will, seems to come from our awareness that not only are certain patterns of behavior profitable for businesses, but they also cause us to be more intentional in our actions. Let’s face it; for many people, how they act in professional settings is often much more respectable, caring, and patient then how they act in their personal lives.

I know a guy who doesn’t befriend, follow, or any of that, his coworkers on social media. Why? Because he doesn’t want to offend them or make things uncomfortable at work. Now you could say that he is just being smart, and for him that might be a good idea, but I think it speaks to a much bigger issue.┬áCharacter.

And I get it, I’m not saying how we act at work needs to be exactly the same as how we act at home. If a customer were to be yelling at you at work over an issue with your company’s product, you may have to more calm and collected than if they were yelling at you over something else somewhere else (though we should still be as gracious as possible!). And clearly some things you may say or do when you are only around your close friends also won’t be appropriate for work (though that doesn’t mean they are necessarily bad).

But if we can’t even be a coworkers Facebook friend, let alone their friend in real life, because of some of the things we say or do in our personal life, that’s a character issue.

When you strive to live with character and integrity, your professional and personal lives won’t need to have two separate identities.

All of this worry about what is and is not appropriate professionally melts away if you live your life with consistency. Talking about women as if they are objects, gossiping about others all of the time, not doing what you say you are going to do; if you have to consciously avoid doing those things at work, then you need to work on not doing those things period.

I’m not saying I or anyone else is perfect, I know I am certainly anything but it. What I am saying is that if your character as a professional is higher than it is when you clock out, that should concern you.

Whoever walks in integrity walks securely, but he who makes his ways crooked will be found out.

-Provers 10:9

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