“At work I behave one way, because I have to. But at home I am a completely different person.”
Does this sound familiar? If so, you are not alone.
There is a misconception many people have about identity: they believe they’re supposed to create more than one. In other words, they operate in a common sense that they should create one identity in their personal life and a separate identity for their professional life.
While you can do this, you can create two different identities, the result is an abundance of stress. Market Force defines one aspect of stress as “a consequence of the conflict between your personal and your public identities.” So, why create two different identities? Why waste your energy?
Life is stressful enough.
About three years ago, one of our clients said this: “I don’t have a personal life AND a professional life—I have a life.”
We love this distinction because it pushes all of us to challenge this common sense notion of creating two “separate” lives.
Instead, consider investing energy in creating coherence of identity across your entire life.
To start, look at every community you have participated in—from sports teams to study groups, volunteer groups to work teams. Think about what starts happening after you arrive that wasn’t going on before you joined. Look for patterns.
Next, make sure that what you were known for in those respective communities is something you feel passionate about. In other words, separate the “have to do” tasks from the “felt passionate about” tasks.
Doing this, you should be able to find a theme. For example,
- I always seemed to be the one who kept the team together.
- People always appeared to rely on me for big picture ideas and strategy.
This theme is your ONE identity.
Embrace it. Build around it.
In life, we all have a finite amount of time and energy—so use yours wisely and start by developing a brand that is coherent in all areas of your one life.