(MotivateDaily.com) – What you do is not who you are. It sometimes feels that way when one of the first questions a new acquaintance asks you is, “What do you do for a living?” Our work roles seem to come weighted with meaning, and it can feel like others are taking your measure before they’ve even had a chance to get to know you as a person.
It can even be common to identify ourselves by what we do. “I am XYZ profession.” Not “I do” this role. “I am” this role. It’s not hard to see how we can get this part confused with our identity.
In fact, most Americans work more than 40 hours a week, and we have less paid time off than many other industrialized countries. This constant overworking can lead to higher rates of burnout, but it also can make you feel like your job defines your life — even over family and lifestyle. The line between work and home blurs, and it’s easy to go into a new social situation with simple small talk.
It can be empowering to realize that you are so much more than the job you do. Whether you’re making fries at a local fast-food restaurant or heading up a Fortune 500 company, your identity isn’t defined by your job. It is defined by your interests, by how you treat other people and even the thoughts you cultivate.
However, to break away from identifying too heavily with your career, you may want to take a few important steps.
Leave Out Work When Making a New Acquaintance
Getting to know someone for who they are can encourage them to meet you in the same way. Skip asking about each other’s work. Instead, look for common interests. Find out what someone loves to do or ask them about how they spend their free time. It will tell you a lot more about them than what they do for a living — and perhaps it will also help them see YOU as more than your job, too.
Learn to Cultivate Better Work-Life Balance With Hobbies and Interests
If you spend all your time focusing on work, you may have a hard time seeing yourself as more than a cog in the wheel of capitalism. Cultivating a better work-life balance can mean diving into interests when you’re off the clock. By indulging in hobbies you enjoy, you can find purpose and meaning outside of what you do for a living.
Give Back to Others
Part of forming an identity outside of your job can be finding meaning outside work hours. Finding volunteer opportunities, donating to causes that matter to you and even learning to be a kind and generous person can help make the world a better place.
Giving back can also give you a broader perspective about who you are as a person. Even performing random acts of kindness or helping out a struggling friend or coworker can help you feel like a million bucks — even if your salary is nowhere near that.
What you do matters. It likely serves an important function in the world. Yet, your job is not who you are. You are not the role you fill; you are a human being worthy of love, belonging and a full, meaningful life.
~Here’s to Your Success!
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