As we grow, we continue to build our lives around the ideal career, and if we’re lucky enough to find something we’re good at and we like, then “jackpot”! After all, recent statistics reveal a whopping 93% of workers aren’t pursuing their ‘dream job’ post-COVID. So, if you’re part of that very lucky, very small minority, you should hold on to that job for dear life, right?
You might want to loosen your grip a little, or a lot. The main problem with building yourself around your career is that your job will never fully be within your control. If things take a nasty turn at work – management changes, companies go under, stuff happens – and you’re collateral damage, it can have a major impact on your mental health in ways that it wouldn’t if you weren’t so deeply invested. Who are you if not your C-suite title?
It’s not uncommon. Far too many people with high-pressure jobs find themselves unhappy with their careers, despite working hard their whole lives to get to where they are. When work takes centre stage in your life, you can easily make mistakes that go against your happiness, like doing longer hours or accepting behaviour you wouldn’t normally. Hating your job is one thing, but when your identity is so closely linked to what you do, it can mean you end up disliking yourself in the process.
Psychologists call this “enmeshment” and it happens when boundaries become so blurred that individuals completely lose their identity. It occurs in careers as easily as it does in toxic relationships. And with this culture of overwork and intense competitiveness we’re currently dealing with, we’re now in the perfect storm of career enmeshment and burnout.
The solution? Boundaries. This might mean not answering emails or phone calls after hours. You might find the world doesn’t end and no one even notices. Talk to your team about following suit. Tell them you want to create a schedule for all that’s sustainable – and healthy. Delegate some work to colleagues to free up time, and then fill that time with non-work related activities. Dip your toe into some hobbies you’ve been thinking about for a while. And make a concerted effort to reach out to friends and family if your social circle has dwindled because work got in the way. The one thing you’ll need when life throws one of its curveballs – and it will, of this you can be sure – is the support of those people who love and care about you.
Looking for a career change? Read THIS first.