Life is a collection of shifts, transitions, and seasons. Changes that come and ebb and flow are normal, healthy, and necessary for our personal evolution.
But some shifts and changes, particularly in excessive workload and heightened demands that don’t let up, can engulf our life and begin to cannibalize our identity.
At times we are consciously aware of this dynamic and give our consent to this risky pattern hoping it will be a temporary survival tactic to get through a grueling season.
Other times the heat turns up slowly and contains just enough excitement and rewarding projects that we don’t fully notice how much we have traded in our whole life to feed one aspect of who we are.
For many, this last year has been a dizzying cocktail of confusion, fear, whiplash change, and a never before seen level of powerlessness to control what controls us. The ideal conditions for causing the kind of deep soul level exhaustion that can make us numb, disorient our normal values, and leave us susceptible to acquiescing to what we ordinarily wouldn’t…like “workism”.
As this article explains, workism is the dynamic where our work becomes who we are.
Not only is this counterproductive to being optimally productive, but it’s an unattainable mirage that steals miles of our life while offering less and less true reward as we go deeper in.
It’s an exchange of a full life, a holistic multi-faceted existence we are all born to have and discover, for a one dimensional pursuit that cannot give us back ultimately what we desire most from it – real fulfillment.
You are not your work.
Even if you’re phenomenal at your work and it brings you tremendous joy. Work adds meaning to your life but is not the meaning of your life.
You are so much more than your craft. In fact your brilliance at your art is fueled by all the things you love and that love you.
Take some reflective time today to check in with yourself to see what silent bargains you’ve made over the last few years, perhaps hoping they’d be seasonal or at least worth the loss of other precious things you’ve traded for it, and reassess.
Has your identity become far too entangled with workism?
Have you gradually crossed lines of what you know isn’t healthy, rational, or sustainable, or failed to draw them?
What is the ultimate price we pay for not reclaiming the fullness of our identity? We become our work, and as exciting as our careers can and should be, that just simply isn’t enough to realize our fullest life potential.
Feeding all aspects of your life in deliberate and determined ways will revive parts of you that will take your work to a whole new level.
And more importantly it will get you back in touch with what makes you you, what trade offs are really worth it, and how to get back in the drivers seat of how you spend your life.
Yes, some changes will need to be made that will feel dangerous. But the scarier proposition is not making them when you know you should.
Most often the fears that play out in our heads that hold us back from resetting certain patterns rarely materialize.
Disappointing others by not meeting unreasonable or inhumane expectations is usually a temporary ugh factor, with some uncomfortable, straightforward discussions.
But rarely is it career damaging like we dread. Transparently communicate the whys behind the shifts you need to make and negotiate what you need to get things done while still attending to all important aspects of your life (yes, you do need to make that doctors appointment).
Not all shifts we need to make will be extreme to give us extremely benefiting results that will enhance the enjoyment of our life.
Look for simple tweaks, habit replacements, and negotiate like a bulldog with yourself to outsmart your own tendencies to make work a vice or identity-substitute.
Start small, start anywhere, but start.
Embrace the discomfort, disrupt unreasonable patterns, and make a new identity contract with yourself that allows you to do what you love and still live a life you deserve.
You Are Not Your Work
How to escape “workism” and reclaim your identity.
“In this hyper-connected and hyper-working culture, to fashion a fulfilling creative life requires clear boundary-setting and a new set of mindsets about your identity, your life’s meaning, and your work.”
Have a restful weekend!