3 Reasons You Are More Than Your Job

In a society where work means everything, retirement can sometimes lead to depression. Many Americans say they can't wait to retire, but the reality is that among men especially, retirement can mean loss — of identity, values, and more. When a retired person can't attach that identity to something else, he or she needs to find an outlet like gardening, traveling, or the like. Unfortunately, sometimes that feeling doesn't translate.

That's why you should make sure that your identity isn't wrapped up in your work, no matter what stage you're at in your career. Don't let it define you, because when it's over, you'll feel lost, and like you don't belong anywhere. You see this played out a lot in sitcoms, when women let the men they're dating determine their identity. It's similar. You want to find your identity and then go after what you're passionate about professionally, not the other way around. It's hard when you're a fresh college graduate and you aren't sure what your future holds.

But there is hope. Here are a few reasons that you should not let your job determine your identity. Just let it be a small part of what fulfills you.

You Have Other Interests

While you should always take pride in your work, you shouldn't let it determine how you feel about your life. The most important parts of your life are the things you love. Whether it be your friends or family or traveling or food, find a passion in something rewarding, but not necessarily financially feasible. You have to find something else that gets you out of bed every morning. And if what you're most passionate about does get you out of bed every morning, make sure you have a balanced life after work.

It Can Always Come to an End

You will never realize that your life is your job until you lose it. When you lose your friends, your after-work activities, and your lunchtime connections, it becomes harder to regain your composure and self-worth. Make time to have hobbies outside of work — volunteer, play sports, find a church, synagogue, or mosque — whatever might connect you with others. That way if something does happen, you have a support system to fall back on.

You Have to Put Yourself First

When the company you work for gets mixed up in something or is blamed for something and it hits the press, people think of you. And sometimes if you go to bat for the company, you are entangled in whatever is happening. This has happened to me before, especially when I worked with people who were litigious. Make sure you don't let how people feel about the place you work translate to how they feel about you. Business is just that, and you need to protect yourself, above all else.

All of this is hard to stomach because, as Americans, we spend most of our lives thinking about what we want to be when we grow up, what we would rather be doing when we finally do grow up, and how we wish we had done one thing or another after we retire. Live life now, while you still can. Travel, read, and experience new adventures. Don't let your 9-to-5 take over your life, just let it fund your life.

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