The line that separates work and personal life is sometimes paper thin, and others as stalwart as the Great Wall of China. Some people blur the line entirely, mixing the two as one, while others keep strict boundaries in place to prevent crossover between the two. Then there’s the people who actually live their work life all the time, and they are called workaholics and should attend a support group. Whatever your personal choice on how to handle these two versions of you (more on this later), crossover can and will happen to everyone at some point within their careers.
I’m about to drop a fact that may surprise some people: Humans are emotional creatures. Whoa. I know. Because these emotions do not follow logical patterns (unless you’re a robot…but then no emotions in the first place), it doesn’t matter how fiercely you want to adhere to your boundary of work/personal rules, crossover will naturally happen. You have a bad day at home and that can carry over into work. You have a great day at work and that pumps you up for a great day at home as well.
I’m not suggesting to keep the two firmly separated or combined, since that really depends on the individual and the job. The best way I’ve been able to come up with to keep the two separated is more a strategy than a method. First, do not socialize with your coworkers outside of work. That’s counter-intuitive especially since in a previous post, I made a suggestion to attend work social events. If you consider that those events are company sponsored, and treat them like a company event rather than a social one, there won’t be any significant crossover. Second, you won’t be able to completely remove how your personal life affects your mood at work, but if you keep all interactions strictly professional regardless of your mood, the bleed is minimal. That might make you seem emotionless or robotic to your coworkers, but if you aren’t interested in socializing with them, then it shouldn’t matter what they think. On the other side, you can completely remove the line and over-share everything about your life, get emotionally and personally invested in the people you work with and then that line won’t exist anymore, at least for the people you become emotionally attached to. Personally, I have individuals I blur the line with, and others where that wall is fixed. Just my two cents.
Ok, now to address my subtext note from above. Many people have versions of themselves that change depending on their environment; their work self is different from their family self, is different from their party hosting self, is different than hanging out with friends self, is different from at a family reunion self. It’s not necessarily a bad or good thing, just a thing that happens as a result of the comfort level a person has within that environment. A small group of people act the same regardless of their environment, but they are rare to find, and in my personal experience, perceived to be jerks no matter where they are.