In one of my more recent counseling sessions, my counselor got me pretty good. She asked me, “Why do you think you invest so much of your identity in to your job?”
My first thought was, “What do you mean?”. This was immediately followed by “Oh no, it’s true!”. Don’t you hate that?
I silently pondered the question for a while, and she asked a few follow up questions.
We had a brief talk about it, but it has been in the back of my head ever since. She’s right, I give all of my energy to my job. I don’t save much for myself outside of work. Why? What purpose does it serve, and where is it getting me?
The real answer to that question is it gets me nowhere. I go home at the end of the day, and I am absolutely exhausted. I am stingy with my time, and I try to avoid doing anything outside of work and prepare to work.
My typical day was this:
- Wake up and get ready for work
- Go to work and expend all my energy
- Come home from work
- Sit on the couch and watch tv until it was time to go to bed so I could get up and go to work.
- Go to bed early so that I can go to work.
That’s no longer acceptable.
I decided it’s time to stop living for work and start living for me.
- I deleted my work email from my phone. (Boundaries, Boundaries, Boundaries)
- I have started to focus more on my writing.
- I have started reading more.
- Overall taking more time to focus on ME
Those are all small changes, however; they have made an enormous impact already.
I work a weird schedule, so my “weekend” is during the week. That made me want to check my email multiple times every day. Why? I think FOMO is the best way to describe this. Fear of Missing Out. It’s not because the world stops turning when I am not at work, and they can’t function without me. It’s because I hadn’t learned to really function without work. What if I miss a chance to provide some input on a situation? What if I miss something important? The good news is, those emails will still be sitting in my inbox when I arrive back at work on “Monday.” I can provide all the input I feel necessary at that time. It can wait. This has taken some time to get used to. I occasionally find myself logging in to check my email “just in case,” but it’s getting easier.
Writing. I have always felt the need to write. Whether it be a list, a journal, a story, or anything you can think of, writing has always been an excellent outlet for me. The problem is, when you’re focused on all things work, you don’t seem to feel like there’s time for anything else in your life. Even if it’s something that you genuinely enjoy. I have made it a point to spend some time writing each night or doing something relating to writing. One of the first nights I did this, I got home from work, and against the norm, I made myself write a little bit. I stayed up a little later than usual to do this and suppressed the want to go to bed to prepare for work. To my surprise, I woke up the next morning and felt amazing. I didn’t dread the day ahead, and I wasn’t feeling exhausted. I felt recharged!
Reading kind of falls into the same category of writing. I enjoy it. I read a lot of Non-Fiction books, with the occasional Fiction story that I can allow myself to get lost in and completely disconnect from the world.
I’ve always identified myself based on my career, and I never really saw anything wrong with that until recently. There is a lot more to me than what I do while I’m at work. Although I am still working on finding out exactly who I am outside my career, these small steps were extremely important to allow me to see that there is more to my life.
Have you ever found yourself in this situation? What changes did you make? Let me know!