Many people will tell you that your personal and professional lives should be kept apart and that happiness in one should not necessarily be related to the other. But in today's world I find this impossible, because the two are inevitably intertwined.
Technology blurs the line between your day job and your night life, but I also feel that a sense of responsibility and a desire to succeed in the eyes of those around you are driving factors as well, and that it's not really a bad thing!
The people who know me well know that I have a personal philosophy to take your job both seriously and personally. Most people take their jobs seriously, ensuring focus and the feelings of responsibility that enable you to do a good job. That's different from taking your job personally, which means making sure that you treat every personal interaction and every deliverable as a means of creating an impression and improving upon whatever relationships you may have, because these are all a reflection on you as a person.
As the hours grow longer and the separation blurs between your personal and professional lives, you'll find that many of the same people exist in both spheres of influence, and their perception of you is based on their interaction with you in the work environment. The work that you do and the relationships you create at work are all part of who you are and the way you see the world.
Taking your job personally means a number of things, and there are some keystones to keep in mind when doing so. First of all, always put forth your best effort. A less than 100% effort typically results in a less than admirable output, and people notice. Second of all, always treat the person on the other end with respect; return emails and phone calls and give an explanation when one is requested. Try not to be curt or disrespectful; if something is going wrong, then be honest and upfront and explain the situation.
Thirdly, manage your time properly and try not to negatively affect other peoples' schedules; recognize their hard work and the effort they put into managing a schedule as well. If you're going to be late, let them know. If you're going to change things up on short notice, try to be understanding of the impact. For the most part, try not to create problems for other people because you were unable to meet expectations. You don't like it when these things happen to you, right?
The best overall guideline for taking your job personally is a simple one: try your best and pay it forward. If you can go that extra mile to get something completed and pay forward a little good karma, it can go a long way to making you valued, appreciated and recognized as a good person to do business with. If you are difficult to work with, people won't want to work with you -- which can carry over to your personal life as well, because rarely is a person difficult at work and easy outside of the office. These are personality, not professional, traits.
Your professional life is a significant part of your day and when it's not going well, it can have a significant impact on your personal life -- so how can you be expected to separate the two? More people get stressed out every day because of their jobs, and I'm no different (just ask my wife).
On the flip side, when things are going well, you gain a sense of accomplishment and peace and your career continues to grow. When you have positive interactions with people on a personal level, they are willing to go that extra mile for you. All of this comes more easily when you take your job personally, not just seriously.
So today, or whenever you feel the time is appropriate, be sure to sit back and take a look at yourself, your interactions and the way that you do business every day and ask yourself the question, "Do I take my job personally?" It might just help you get a little further, be a little happier and feel a little bit more complete!