Career rethink #2: Four fixes for ‘my work is my world’

People deal with the problem of work being their core identity in different but ingenious ways. Can you recognise yourself as any of these personalities?

You’d be forgiven for getting the idea that your work is your world. To be fair, it is most of every day. So if you don’t like it, you need to change something inside or outside yourself. But since there’s so much riding on it, it’s an explosive issue.

Comet

An explosive issue comet. © Laura Eades 2014

If you’re weighing up your work situation, you might like to consider your personality, and whether you’re more disposed one way or another.

Can you make the best of a bad job?

One

One © Laura Eades 2014

Solution 1: Don’t identify with work (well not hook, line and sinker). You Mindfully keep your sense of yourself independent from work. To solve the problem this way, you really have to have your feet on the ground. You weigh it up and say: “what’s important is not the subject-matter, it’s my day-to-day. I love the people I work with/the outdoor lifestyle/the variety/the freedom it gives me to –––.” You can find your sense of yourself in your friendships, your family, techno dancing, sponsored parachute jumps, goofing around… so if you need to change jobs, until the people/holidays and so forth make you happy, then just do that. Some people are born this way. Some people have to work on the spiritual dimension to keep everything in perspective.

 

Two

Two. © Laura Eades 2014

Solution 2: Create an easy income that you don’t care about. So you can pursue your hobbies. This will take a bit of setting up – Tim Ferriss recommends 4 months. You need to be able to set aside your desire to do the most beautiful, creative thing and focus on the goal: money. If it’s manufacturing bumper stickers about golfers, so be it: Your way of making money is a clever assessment of the niche market, not a work of art. It’s the paycheck that funds your snowboarding; you’re laughing.

 

Three

Three. © Laura Eades 2014

Solution 3: Determinedly make a vocation for yourself out of your pleasures. There are people in creative industries getting paid for their creativity, and guaranteed some of the people who share your passions will have written books and blogged about how to start making money doing it. There are also people who elide crazy ideas and skills to make totally unique enterprises. If you’re scared, I can assure you – there are shortcuts, and you won’t need to go back to college or martyr yourself to your passion vocation to make it work.

 

Four

Four. © Laura Eades 2014

Solution 4: Do something that the world really needs. If you really care about politics, or the environment, or can see some people who could really benefit from the skills you accidentally find yourself with, then you’re very lucky to have these values calling your name. This can be your mission. You just have to figure out the way to contribute which is also sustainable and exciting for you.

Me?

I’m not setting myself up as a shining example of enlightenment here.

I’m most frequently in camp 3, because I’ve tried to achieve perspective nirvana and I just don’t have the skills to accomplish that strongly independent sense of self and life priorities. Maybe after a few more years of Mindfulness practice I’ll have a better distance from the vocation question. Perhaps I’ve shifted more than I give credit for on this though – my home life is way higher up my priority list than it used to be, and I’m much happier for it.

I’d like to have a bit more of solution 4 in my lifestyle design, and am pondering how to be helpful to the world at large; that’s not obvious to me.

I can’t manage solution 2, unless the idea for the perfect passive income hits me one of these sleepless nights – it’s not that I’m too anti-capitalist to cope with the idea (believe me, if the brainwave comes, I’m cashing in on it), it’s that my ego gets in the way and I want the moneymaking thing to be my masterpiece.

You?

How strongly do you identify with your work? Do you know what your dream job would be? What do you find to enjoy in each day, each week, that makes it doable? Have you tried any of these other approaches? I’d love to hear from you. Click on the pale grey dot with a plus sign on it to open up the comments section below the post.

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Read more about Reworking work on Illustrated Guide to Life: