Many people confuse who they are with what they do. When a job overshadows all other areas of life, suffering is inevitable. Learn how to deal with it in a healthy way
Many people define who they are by their profession. What happens when we confuse those two things? When a job is confused with a sense of self? When all other aspects of life are swept under the carpet because the focus is only on a career. We have all heard “Your job is not your life” or “your job is not who you’re” But what does that mean?
First, we need to make a distinction.
We need to define what a person is:
“A person is a being that has certain capacities or attributes such as reason, morality, consciousness or self-consciousness, and being a part of a culturally established form of social relations such as kinship, ownership of property, or legal responsibility.” source
And what a Job is:
“A piece of work, especially a specific task done as part of the routine of one’s occupation or for an agreed price” source
Since the person has many dimensions. The role enacts on a job is just one of them. We can conclude that employers should provide fulfillment of basic needs like food and shelter and hopefully more. So that we can utilize spare resources (one of them being time), to pursue passions, hobbies, and meaningful relationships.
Let’s explore what can happen when we confuse those two things. When a job overshadows other areas of life like hobbies, physical activities, and relationships.
When your job is your sole focus in life, It harms you in many ways. For example:
a.You lose friends
If you’re working a lot, You don’t have any spare time left. You miss parties, birthdays, and social events. All under the excuse of being too busy. Over time you lose all your connection. Your friends stop calling you. Eventually, they forget about you. Sure you can have some friends from work. But if you’ve met them at work, chances are that they do everything that you do – and all you can talk about is work.
b.You are too stressed
If you don’t have any time off from work. You forget how to relax and do nothing. Not doing anything is misconstrued in our society as a waste of time, which is wrong. When you’re not doing anything you accumulate energy in the state of action energy is used. You can’t use energy if you haven’t accumulated it in the first place. Actually, you already know how what a person who’s always active, overwhelmed with work and emotionally drained is. It’s burnout.
c.You lose your spontaneity
Your working day may be well structured and nothing can be left to chance. And for a working environment that’s fine. But in non-work-related activities, things are different. Most of the time, you can’t plan ahead what’s gonna happen. There is no briefing, or yearly and quarterly quotas for leisure activities. Spontaneity is an essential part of it. Sure you can plan what you’re gonna do and where you gonna spend your time. But when we’re talking about relationships, traveling, and meeting new people. Things can turn out to be completely opposite of what you expected. Knowing how to be spontaneous is the real beauty of living. Workaholics find this uncertainty of things in non-work-related activities something not worth going for and decides to invest all their time and energy in work. Where the outcome of the effort is predictable.
d.You compensate personal failure with professional success
Some tend to think that their professional success makes them better people. That being successful at what you do is all you need in life. That’s wrong. We all have many identities. We are sons, daughters, husbands, wives, football players, neighbors, uncles, amateur painters, etc. What distinguishes a mature individual from an immature one is being capable to integrate all aspects of identity into one. And to become a functional individual. If you stick to one role and neglect all other aspects of life, you’ll not be able to thrive in life. Since we all have many roles in our lives. No job will give you a valid excuse to ignore your friends and family or not pursue the things you care about. In the end, people will not remember you for your job, they will remember how you made them feel.
Why figuring out that your job is not your life can be so hard?
Career-related accomplishments make us feel special. Because it’s structured such that if you work hard you get promoted and you get a higher income. It also affects your self-image. If you become the most hard-working fella in your company. People start seeing you as; “the one who’s holding the company on his back”. They might say; “If it wasn’t for you all would fall apart”. And that’s flattering your ego. This can be the opposite of what you want, but it’s hard to resist the flattering. Many people are concerned about what others think of them, a lot more than how they feel.
How society sees success is having a lot of material possessions. Being good at what you do means working all day long. Getting a promotion means working even more. People are drawn to expensive cars, iPhones, tablets, and fancy restaurants. Which are considered to be an extension of the self. People give their free time and are willing to abandon pursuing their passions for those things. Because those are mistaken for self-worth.
Feeling happiness and fulfillment arises when we’re creative. When we’re living in harmony with our beliefs and our true nature. Since all the jobs are revolving around profit. The opportunity to do something that isn’t chasing the revenue and filling up the company’s budget is slim.
It’s important to understand that working isn’t bad. You can’t live without work. It takes up a big part of your life. And if you’re smart, you end up being satisfied and fulfilled. A job should provide you with the means to live your life to the fullest. To pursue the goals you want in life. Not to enslave you and rob you of all energy.
In the end, it is important what you chose. It can be; “work to live” or “live to work” It is all up to you.
It’s good to remember what people regret on their deathbeds. It’s usually:
”I never did what I wanted to do”, “I wish I had spent more time with my kids”, “I wish I had more fun”, “I wish I wasn’t afraid” and so on.
But I’ll be damned if somebody ever said “I wish I had worked more”
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