In our culture that is all about productivity and achievement, it’s easy to get wrapped up in the idea that our identities are totally tied to what we do for a living.
What’s the first question most people ask when making small talk?
“So, what do you do for a living?”
I ask this too. It’s an easy ice breaker. The problem is that, in this totally economized culture, we can end up only seeing ourselves as having value if we do something really cool for work.
There’s so much more to life than our job. There are 6 categories in life that are part of our happiness and fulfillment.
I like to call them the 6 pillars of success.
Work is only 1 of the categories in life that make up our identity
It’s easy to start having an identity crisis if your work doesn’t align with the vision that you have of yourself.
Let’s say you are surrounded by great friends and family. You stick to your budget. You workout and watch what you eat. But you got laid off a couple months ago and you haven’t found a new job in your field yet.
This can be devastating to someone who is going through it, especially if we are tying our identity to our job.
You might start having anxiety when you’re in social settings because you’re afraid of hearing that dreaded question: “What do you do for a living?”
You might feel like you aren’t as important as you used to be, all because you don’t currently have a job.
That’s why it is so important to have a why for all 6 categories of our personal development. Finding your why in each category will help you to understand what drives you and what you’re passionate about.
You might find out that your work is not actually that important to your identity. The mini identity crisis that you’re going through isn’t as big of a deal as you thought it was.
This can apply to you even if you currently have a job. Maybe it’s not the job that you envisioned yourself having at this stage of your life.
If you really dive deep to understand what drives you, you might be surprised.
Avoid compartmentalizing your identity
Knowing what people do for a living is a really easy way to compartmentalize most of their life.
You can probably get a good idea of their income level by know what their job is, but it’s also possible to start assuming that we know what is going on in someone’s life just by knowing what job they have.
If we look at people’s identity as just their job, then we might try to put them in a certain box for their social status and perceived value to society.
You can end up doing this to yourself as well.
Judging yourself solely based on your job can lead to an unfulfilling life.
You are more than your job
There are a plethora of things that define you that have nothing to do with your job. You are a brother, sister, father, mother, cousin, friend, dog lover, cat lover… the list can go on and on.
The actions that you take on a daily basis are what can help build your identity into what you want it to be.
It doesn’t matter what other people think of anything that is going on in your life. You are the only person that has an opinion that truly matters.
If you can wake up in the morning, and be happy with the person that you are, then who cares what anyone else has to say about it?
Don’t compare yourself to anyone else. You should only be comparing yourself to the person who you were yesterday.
Next time you start questioning your own value, or start having an identity crisis because of the work that you do, take a step back and review everything else that’s going on in your life; remind yourself that you are an awesome person!
How a personal development plan can help
Earlier in the article, we talked about why having a why for each of the 6 categories in your life is important to your identity.
One of the next most important things is to develop a personal development plan.
Your idea of success is different than mine. Your vision of leading a happy and fulfilling life is different than the people who surround you.
Planning your life will help you to turn into the person that you envision yourself being.
Taking a little time to work on your personal development plan will pay off in a big way.
Wrapping it up
It’s time that we start viewing ourselves as more than the job that we have. Our job titles aren’t all that make up our identity.
Knowing what drives us and having a plan is a great way to lead a happy and fulfilling life.
Next time you start questioning your identity based on your job, take a step back and think about everything else that you are. You might surprise yourself!
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