You are not your job. Start 2018 with a new perspective on life balance
With only a few days until the new year - and all the resolutions that come with it - this is a good moment to reflect on what your life is really about. You might have a few days off work in the next week, so why not take a moment to look at yourself and what is going on in your life?
Pause. Slow down. Hopefully, nothing urgent will be happening at work and you can relax a little. I know it can be a hard task for the highly ambitious and committed, but some space and distance might give you a different perspective and even boost your energy for the start of the year.
‘On call’ full-time
I still remember when I didn’t have a mobile phone – or even internet (!) – so I could totally switch off during the holidays, with no risk of being contacted or asked to work in that period. It was my pre-booked break after all. And that was the norm. People did take time off! Difficult to imagine nowadays, I know.
We now live in such a competitive environment, with everyone trying to do better, achieve more and succeed at all costs. It’s understandable that it’s difficult to forget about work and be fully disconnected. ‘Time is money', isn’t it what we have been hearing in the past decades? There is a general perception that we can’t afford having time off. That we would be taking a risk, of losing something or falling behind. If you feel that way, you are not alone.
My job my life
The sad reality is that, more and more, people are too identified with their jobs. Their sense of self, of who they are and their external image, are intrinsically linked to what they do for a living. They get validation from praises at work, they find happiness when they receive compliments, their satisfaction and rewards come in form of bonus or promotions.
However, the other side of the coin is also true and it can be extremely painful. If they receive criticism or negative feedback, they might think less of themselves. If they don’t get that bonus or promotion, it means that they haven’t being recognised or, worse still, they are not good enough. They feel unhappy. Not only about that event or situation at work, but about life itself. As if the job affected everything else in them and around them.
They feel unworthy as human beings. And that is what hurts the most. I see that all too often. And it is very powerful, sad and overwhelming.
Probably the worst case scenario is when they lose their jobs. It feels like ‘losing the ground beneath your feet’. A sense of being lost, betrayed, rejected and lonely. As if the whole world is against you. Some people might get into such darkness and depression because their whole lives were founded and structured on the work they were doing.
Yes, there are bills to be paid. Some have families to provide for. It’s not a light and superfluous situation. Losing a job can have very serious consequences, and I’m not questioning that. However, the way you will see yourself from the moment you don’t have that job title anymore - and during those days and months afterwards - will determine how your life takes shape.
You are not your job
Jobs can usually bring much more than money. They might bring status, prestige, recognition and even endless topic for chats in parties. But you are much more than your job. It is important to take some time to reflect on how balanced your life has been.
Has it been mostly about work?
What have you been doing when you are not at work?
Here are a few ways to reflect and reframe the way you see yourself:
- Pause. Slow down.
- Take some distance from work. Look at it with some space and perspective. Separate it from who you really are.
- Give your mind a break. Go for a walk, listen to music, stare at the ceiling, watch people passing by.
- Reserve some time every week to do things that bring you joy.
- Have a hobby. Something that interests you and gives you pleasure.
- Look after your body. Physical activities can help relieve and release the stress and pressure from work.
- Bring intention to your life, to your actions, to your words. Reflect more. Make life more meaningful.
- Switch off – literally – when you are not at work. Turn your mobile and email off. (You might be surprised that the world won’t end!)
- Reconnect with the people who are important to you. That will bring you fulfilment and a sense of belonging.
- Do nothing. Why not? Stop doing so much. Change gear.
- Stop existing, start living.
Invest in yourself
Yes, your job is a huge part of your life, and where you spend most of your day. In fact, you might be spending so much time and energy at work, that there's little left for anything else. That’s even one more reason to make the most of your time when you are not there.
Rediscover who you really are. Rediscover all those things that you truly love and make you happy. And I mean, that real sense of happiness, which is deeper and meaningful.
By disidentifying from your job, by seeing yourself as much more than that, you might even find new ways of succeeding at work, and in life in general. And 2018 will feel very different than before.