3 Steps to Finding Your Identity Outside of Work

Do you feel like your life revolves entirely around your career? Do you find yourself tirelessly working towards success, yet struggle to define who you are outside of your job? If you’re nodding along, you’re not alone. Many ambitious professionals face the challenge of maintaining work-life balance and discovering an identity beyond their careers. The pressure to excel in your profession can sometimes overshadow the need for an identity beyond your career, impacting your mental well-being and overall satisfaction when you aren’t working. If you’re an ambitious professional seeking balance between your career and personal life, this episode is your guide to rediscovering who you are outside of the office walls.

In this episode, you will learn:

  • Why ambitious professionals tend to struggle with having an identity outside of work
  • The mental health implications of having your identity tied up in your work
  • 3 actionable steps to explore your own identities

Source: https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/basics/identity




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Calmly Coping Podcast

INTRO/OUTRO MUSIC: Rescue Me (Instrumental) by Aussens@iter (c) copyright 2018 Licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution (3.0) license. http://dig.ccmixter.org/files/tobias_weber/57990 Ft: Copperhead

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Click to view the episode transcript.

Do you feel like your life revolves entirely around your career? Do you find yourself tirelessly working towards success, yet finding yourself struggling to identify or define who you are outside of your job? If you’re nodding along, you’re not alone. Many ambitious professionals face the challenge of maintaining work life balance and defining an identity outside of their careers.

The pressure to excel in your profession can sometimes overshadow the need for an identity beyond your career, impacting your mental well being and overall life satisfaction when you aren’t working. If you’re an ambitious professional seeking a balance between your career and your personal life, this episode is your guide to rediscovering who you are outside the office walls.

Welcome to Calmly Coping. My name is Tati Garcia, and I’m a licensed therapist and coach specializing in high functioning anxiety. I help high achievers stop putting themselves last so they can feel calm, balanced, and confident from within. If this topic interests you, then please like, subscribe, and hit the notification bell so you’ll be notified every time I release a new episode.

Thank you so much for tuning in. So before we dive into this, let’s define what it is. an identity is. So it encompasses, quote, the values people hold, which dictate the choices they make. An identity contains multiple roles, such as mother, teacher, U. S. citizen, for example, and each role holds meaning and expectations that are internalized into one’s identity.

Identity continues to evolve over the course of an individual’s life. Unquote. So the ambitious professional’s dilemma is the tendency to focus on and amplify one aspect of your identity, which often tends to be your career, title, profession, your job, whatever it is that you do for work. And this can make it more difficult to see your role or purpose outside of work, even though you hold Many different identities you may over emphasize this one identity that is connected to your career The high expectations and pressure that you put on yourself and the focus on achievement and or success can make it more likely that you over identify with this identity in addition to the fact that this is where many people Spend a lot of their time at work or thinking about work or doing things related to work.

And so it can naturally become a big part of the way that you view yourself as a person. You may put many hours and years of work into getting where you are in your career. And because of that, you can hold that in very high regard. However, when you focus too much on your identity, when it relates to your job, this can have negative impacts on your mental health and on your life fulfillment. So this can contribute to things like stress, anxiety, depression, and other mental health struggles such as burnout if you are not taking the time to cultivate an identity beyond your career. Some of the negative consequences can be that when there is a change to your career, let’s say you lose your job.

You change careers, you retire, you take a break, such as a sabbatical, or you take time off, or any other significant change when it comes to your career, then this can result in you feeling completely lost, can result in you feeling like you’re lacking purpose, you’re not sure what to do with yourself, you’re not sure who you are, it can potentially become an identity crisis, And this could be something that can be very challenging to navigate.

And when you over identify your career, then that can result in a lack of work life balance. You may throw yourself into your career as a way of finding that purpose and finding what you value in life. And have difficulty with focusing on things outside of work, even if you may want to do activities or spend time with the people that you care about outside of your career, it can sometimes be really difficult to intentionally make the time for this, and you may find find all of your time becomes consumed by just focusing on your career.

Another negative consequence of majorly identifying with your career is you may feel the need to prove your worth through your work. So you may feel like you aren’t good enough unless you have achieved something or unless you are working or being productive. And this can turn into an endless hamster wheel of just feeling like you constantly need to be doing and achieving more.

You need to achieve that next level, that next status, that next income. Bracket that next title or whatever it is that looks like for you and it can feel like this never ending race I have worked with countless ambitious professionals who have struggled with this Over identification with their career at many stages throughout their life I’ve worked with individuals who are trying to transition into retirement and finding what that looks like for them how much of their life they want to devote to continuing to work to volunteer activities or to Taking time off and allowing themselves to relax.

And I’ve also worked with individuals at beginning and mid levels of their careers and identifying what that looks like. Whether it is they are starting a family and they’re realizing that their priorities have shifted and they want to devote more of their time and energy towards. their family and their loved ones, or whether it is they’re finding themselves in a place of burnout and they need to focus on other things that are important to them.

Otherwise, they’re going to just keep struggling and going deeper into that hole of overworking and lacking balance in their life. So regardless of where you are and what your situation is, there are a few steps that you can go through in order to stop over identifying with work and find your identity outside of your career. So step number one is to first identify the aspects of your identity. So I talked before about how we all have different aspects and different roles that we play in our lives and they’re there. It just may be that you’re not recognizing them or putting that energy and attention into those roles.

So it’s more than just what you do for work. It could be your culture, your interests, your values. Your gender, your sexuality, your relationships, all of these things shape your identity. Maybe you are a sibling, a friend, a creative, an explorer, a traveler, an animal lover. Maybe it’s your political affiliation.

There are many things that can construct your identity. This step is really to brainstorm, grab a piece of paper and reflect on what are the different aspects of what make you who you are. What are the different interests you have? What are the different identities that you hold? And I can guarantee that you are multifaceted rather than singular.

And this can give you a great launching ground to recognize all the different aspects of your identity. You can even think of maybe things that you have done or were interested in in the past that have kind of fallen off. And is it possible to reconnect with those lost parts of your identity? And at the same time recognize that we are constantly changing and evolving and so maybe there are new things that you may be interested in exploring as parts of your identity or reconnecting with or connecting with a new or cultivating new relationships or whatever that may look like for you.

So the next step after you have done this brainstorming is to explore. Blur hobbies, passions and interests that you may have. This could look like reconnecting with anything that really interests you and sparks excitement within you. So this can look like arts and crafts, recreational sports, music, language, learning, reading, learning about anything, joining clubs, exploring or traveling, charity work, activism.

I’ve worked with clients who have, I’ve worked with clients who have struggled with finding that interest and have tried different things and whether it’s volunteering or joining different groups in order to not just potentially find different aspects of their identity, but just to find ways to spend their time that are intentional, enjoyable and allow them to connect with other people so you can try different ways to do this.

There’s websites like meetup.com joining friends that you have in their interest. It’s checking out something that they may be involved in exploring things on your own and just trying things solo or revisiting old interests that you’ve lost touch with. And step three is to build connections.

Relationships are an important part of our identity. We are not living in a vacuum and we are not doing things on our own. Our community, our connections are important parts of how we view ourselves. Even though you probably view yourself as an individual, as somebody who is unique. which is very true, you can’t separate your identity from those relationships around you.

Even if you view your identity as being your career, I’m pretty sure that that career probably involves other people, whether it is supporting, helping, or providing something for other people in some way. And the same applies when it comes to your identities outside of work. So building a support system or connecting to the support system that you already have can help you to maintain not just a healthy work life balance and see that you’re able to get certain needs met outside of work, you’re able to find connection and purpose outside of work. It can also help you to get support in working towards discovering more about yourself, whether that is joining a professional group, maybe, you know, even within your workplace there can be certain professional associations or support groups and it can also be outside of work.

But just looking for something that can give you some level of support some level of connection and community. If you are searching for a community and you’re an ambitious professional. who is struggling with anxiety, overwhelm, burnout, potentially, and putting a lot of pressure on yourself, then you would be a perfect fit for my community, The Calm & Ambitious Community.

So this is a supportive and nonjudgmental community where you can learn skills and tools to help you to feel calmer from within. Create work life balance and feel more confident in yourself with live coaching calls once a month. We also offer monthly planning workshops as well as challenges and live workshops along the way to support you in building these skills.

If this is something that you’re interested in learning more about and in joining us, we would love to have you. You can learn more by going to calmandambitious.com or click on the link in the show notes. Here are the key takeaways from this episode. You have an identity. You are more than your work and you are worth More than your work and the things that you do, you can find identities outside of work that aren’t based on how productive you are, how much you do, or how much money you make, you can find identities that are related to the way you view yourself as a person, whether it’s a part of how you define or identify yourself as a person, or whether it is an interest you have, or whether it comes from a community you’re a part of, or connections that you hold in your life.

We are all multifaceted and you are worth more than your work. Any step that you can take towards finding and discovering more of your identity outside of work is a step that you are taking to take care of yourself and see yourself as a whole and worthy person. So I’d love to hear your thoughts on this question.

If you’re watching on YouTube or listening on Spotify, what aspect of your identity would you like to cultivate beyond your career? And while you wait for next week’s episode, I have other episodes about calming your mind, creating work life balance, and feeling more confident from within. So be sure to check out these episodes here.

Thank you so much for tuning in today and until next time, be calm.

Until next time…

Be Calm,


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Hey, I'm Tati!

I believe that everybody deserves to live a calm, fulfilling life. My hope is to inspire high achievers to stop fear from running their lives and start putting their needs first.

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