Tweet

Earlier this week, I was having a conversation with a friend of mine who is having a rough time, career-wise. He’s got a stable job, but it’s one he hates. At the same time, the career field he’d love to get into is one that is pretty unstable, with an over-saturated pool of employees and low pay for most. He feels stuck and is depressed with his current situation.

I found myself giving him advice that I’ve heard others say again and again. Don’t worry, you are not your job.

Screw. That.

What am I saying? Of course you’re your job. People say that to others who hate their jobs, but when you like you job? Your chest puffs up and you proudly say, “I’m a writer!” or “I’m a doctor!” or whatever you are. People only say you aren’t your job when talking to someone who hates their job.

It’s a stupid double standard, and one that only encourages complacency.

Now, I’m not saying you should hate yourself if you hate what you do every day. All I’m saying that that we need to stop justifying our career choices. Yes, when you get home at the end of the day, you’re also a parent or a runner or a model builder or a Glee fan or whatever else you do what you’re life. You aren’t just your job. But your job is part of who you are - and an important part at that.

Jobs give us experience that shapes how we think and what we do even outside of work. This is true whether you work as a garbage man or a chef at a five-star restaurant. If you don’t like your job, chances are that you don’t like how it’s shaping you either. And that’s a bad thing. A really bad thing.

You’re going to spend 40 hours per week at work over the course of your life. If you get two weeks of vacation, that’s 2000 hours per year. If you work from the time you graduate college (let’s say at age 22) to the time you retire (let’s say at age 65), that means that you’ll work 86,000 hours in your lifetime. That’s almost ten years, non-stop, no sleeping or potty breaks.

EIGHTY SIX THOUSAND HOURS OF YOUR LIFE.

You probably will not spend more hours doing ANYTHING, other than maybe sleeping. How can that not be a defining factor of who you are? You wouldn’t spend 86,000 hours painting and then say, “Oh, but I’m not a painter. I paint, but that’s not who I am?”

We say you’re not your job to feel better about not liking our situation, but the truth is that it only hurts us in the end. Your job is who you are - so if you don’t like it, you absolutely need to be working to change that. Otherwise, you’re just making excuses.

So today, I say to my friend and to all of you: You are your job. How can I help you love who you are more? How can you help yourself? Let’s do this.


Like what you read here? Stay connected with the After Graduation community and receive a free copy of Career Oomph!, a weekly newsletter to help you stay motivated to find that perfect job:



  1. Farnoosh (Reply) on Wednesday 22, 2010

    Alli, you are one smart woman and at such a young age - I am so impressed. I wish I had this mindset when I was in my 20s….I never thought much about loving or hating my job so much as advancing and being that vision of success - and I was after it with an obsession you wouldn’t believe - or maybe you would, who knows :) ! - and when you turn that corner and realize what you say here so plainly, it’s scary - especially if you’ve wasted a long time in a job you don’t like. This is a huge topic and I am sure one that can generate conversation from anyone. The obligations versus the passions, the safe and secure choice versus the bold. We can see both sides but at least, you are telling us to be aware of how much time and energy goes into our jobs, whatever we decide to do about it. Brilliant, my dear Alli, you write so well and you articulated this point beautifully!

    • Allison (Reply) on Wednesday 22, 2010

      Thanks, Farnoosh! I think you bring up an excellent point that ambition can blind us to the fact that we’re not happy. I spend a lot of time on a project I didn’t love once because I was too stubborn to give up.












              General Career
              
    Motivation
              
    Goals
              Job Hunting
              Tips and Tricks
              Reviews
              Opinions
              Site News

    Escaping the 9 to 5 Maren Kate's site is all about leaving the rat race to own your own business. She talks a lot about gaining freedom from the traditional work atmosphere and using virtual workers to achieve your entrepreneurship goals.

    Kommein An important part of job-hunting in most industries is social networking. Deb Ng's site is my favorite resource for learning more about using Twitter, Facebook, and other sites for more than telling people what you had for lunch and sharing party pictures.

    JobMonkey If you're at a loss when it comes to knowing what you want to do in life, JobMonkey is a great site to learn about career options. Their guides cover everything from truck driving to banking. They also have info about the training you'll need to work in these fields.

    Brass Tack Thinking At Brass Tack Thinking, Amber and Tamsen walk you through the process of making things happen, from developing your personal philosophy and brainstorming ideas to implementing those ideas to see real results in your life.

    Lifebeat Lifebeat is a weekly podcast from Nathan Hangen with music by Oleg Mokhov. Every Tuesday, you can listen to some energizing music along with motivational conversation and debate/discussion about concepts applicable to entrepreneurs and employees alike.


    You can find reviews I've done in the past at the following places; I'm always interested in doing more, so if you have something you'd like me to review, feel free to contact me.

    Higher Education This book by by Kenneth Jedding is about the feeling of failure you might feel as you're struggling to find the right path after graduation.

    Billing Boss If you're a freelancer or entrepreneur, Billing Boss is a tool you can consider to meet your invoicing needs. There are both pros and cons to the Billing Boss system.

    How to Write a German CV This ebook is specific to those job-hunting in Germany, but gives you a lot to consider for the non-US job application process in general.

    As you may know, I'm also involved in BlogWorld Expo, which is held annually. I've done some travel-related reviews which you can see here:
              -Border Grill
              -Tender
              -Mix