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 holiday 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 absent. ‘Time is money’ after all, isn’t it what we have been hearing in the past decades? There is a general feel that we can’t afford having time off. If you feel that way, you are not alone: it’s around us, like the air we breathe.
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, is 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 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 their life itself. It is almost 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 to. 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, those days and months afterwards, will determine how your life takes shape.
You are not your job
Jobs can bring much more than money. It brings 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 balance 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. 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 joy to your life.
- Have a hobby. Something that interests you and gives you pleasure.
- Look after your body. Physical activities can bring you relief and release the stress and pressure from work.
- Switch off – literally – when you are not at work. Turn mobile and email off. (You might be surprised that the world won’t end!)
- Do nothing. Why not? Stop doing so much. Change gear.
- Reflect more. Bring intention to your life, to your actions, to your words.
- Stop existing, start living.
Yes, your job might be a huge part of your life, and where you spend most of your day. That’s even one more reason to make the most of your time when you are NOT there. And rediscover who you really are about. Rediscover all those things that you truly love and makes 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.