Identity Crisis: Becoming Your Career

What happens when a Career becomes your entire identity?

I realized four years ago that my previous job had become my entire identity. I lived and breathed my career.

But I was unhappy. I spent nights worrying about what was going to happen the next day. I worried about what people were going to think of me if I even slightly stepped outside of my career identity.

See, identity is a tricky thing. It can change and evolve over time, and sometimes, you can feel like you are what you do – your work and your impact on the world around you. And perhaps that is true – you are what you do – but not if your heart is not in it.

I now cringe at the thought of choosing something random to make a difference in the lives of other people. Leaders, managers, and salesmen will try to sell you on their idea of what makes a difference and what your identity should be in order to achieve that. But ultimately, if you fight against making your own difference a reality, it may result in unhappiness.

I do want to clarify that there are people who are happy in their career identities. If the leader’s vision is something that person truly feels in their heart, they may indeed be very happy.

However, this is too often not the case. Many people want to have their own identity, and that’s how they want to make a difference. They want to make a difference in the areas that they are passionate about.

Many people feel that in order to align with their true identity, they need to sacrifice something: money; reputation; relationships – it’s the ‘fear’ side of our brain that talks to us about this, and it so often blocks us from finding plausible solutions to work toward our dreams. The success that could be achieved if you followed your passion and the many people you could help would be an insurmountably positive trade.

What steps could you take today to align with your true identity and work toward your passions?

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