It might be the first thing a person asks you on a blind date. It may be what you worked towards during your whole college career. It may be what you spend the majority of your time doing. But it’s so important to remember that you’re not defined by your job. If you’ve been feeling like how you value yourself is too tied up in your position, what your boss thought of your latest assignment or how your co-workers see you, it may be time to step back and re-assess how you judge yourself. Incorporating some of these tips into your daily life will help you start appreciating your own feelings, thoughts, desires and values that have nothing to do with your work and everything to do with who you are as a person.
Appreciate your job for what it is
Many of us fall pray to the idea that we are a failure because we are not in the field we really want to be in, or our job is in no way the “dream job” we envisioned we’d have.
Darlene Johnson, the Director of External Relations in the Career Center at Hofstra University who received her master’s degree in career development, recommends recent graduates remember that each job is a stepping stone to the next opportunity. “Look at what you can gain from your current position, even if it is just that you have made one important networking connection,” she says. “Then, while you are at that position, do what you can do learn new skills, or make connections that will help you get to where you would rather be.” Talk to your fellow co-workers about why they enjoy their jobs, update your resume often to include new achievements you’ve made at your job and attend any networking events offered!
Let go of the “shoulds,” “coulds” and “oughts”
Everywhere we look, society is telling us how we are supposed act, behave and believe. This can lead to constant second-guessing that leads to doubting our self-worth and wondering if we are “enough.”
If you find yourself saying, “I should have been chosen to go to that week-long conference in another state,” ask yourself if that conference is something you actually wanted to go to and would have enjoyed deep down, or is it more that you feel like you should want to go to? Identify and silence the inner critic that tells you what you think and do is not right or enough.
When you start doubting that your self-worth isn’t tied to your work, make a list of three things you love about yourself, or ask “Would you ever say what you say to yourself to a friend?” The answer is probably no.
Keep up with your hobbies
You would never cancel a meeting with your boss or conference call with a client, so don’t cancel on yourself either! Treat your outside-of-work hobbies as a priority, just as much as you would something for work.
Whether it be going to a kickboxing class after work, or spending a Saturday taking photographs around your neighborhood, don’t give up your passions that aren’t related to your occupation.
Practice being happy for others
So much of our self-worth comes from comparing ourselves to others. It’s hard to feel good about where you are career-wise when it seems every time you log onto Facebook someone is working at their dream job, or just landed a competitive position overseas.
Try to remember that others’ successes do not take away from your own, and there is no timeline to when you should be reaching certain milestones. Talk to your closest friends to see if they are having any of the same struggles as you and, if necessary, just delete that “everything’s-great-my-life-is-perfect” acquaintance you went to high school with from Facebook already!
Put the work away when you leave the office
The temptation to check your email one last time at night can be overwhelming, but when you really never turn work “off,” two things can happen: You end up just being mildly productive all day, instead of extremely focused when you’re actually at work or you start to put work over other things that matter. It’s easy to feel like your job is taking over your whole life when you don’t remember to leave the business at the office. Make sure to spend your time outside of work pursuing the other priorities in your life and giving your attention to the people who matter most.
Learn how to accept rejection
It’s easy to feel worthless if you don’t get that promotion, raise or interview you were so hoping for. However, it’s important to remember even when things in your career are not going where you want or the pace you want them to, you are still you.
Appreciate who you are, and where you are in your life, right now
Every day you show up to work you are learning something new and gaining valuable experience that will help you down the road. With so much constantly changing in your young adulthood, it’s easy to get caught up in planning and wishing for the future, but remember the only moment you can really live in is the present one. So, give yourself credit even for the smallest victories, both in your career and outside the office.
Associating your career status too closely with your self-worth is a dangerous game, especially right out of college when the chances you are working your dream job with a company you’ll be with for the rest of your life is small. Your position is the work hierarchy does not translate to your position in life, because each one of us brings a unique combination of skill, experience and perspective to the table that no one else can offer. Define yourself by your beliefs, opinions, what you love to do and who you love to be around during your 24 hours and not just what you do for your 9 to 5.