6 reasons to not blur the line between work and who you really are

You love your job? Great. Just don’t let it take over your identity. Next time the line between work and the rest of your life begins to blur, take a step back and consider this.

The many hours we’re working these days make it hard to nail down who you are without mentioning what you do.

Think about it. Would you dare walk into a room full of strangers and not mention who you work for or what consumes your day-to-day? Is it merely conversation, or have YOU and your job become synonymous?

If you’re lucky enough to have landed a position that you love, one that holds your attention, challenges you, and demands your full attention, being the “face” of your company might not sound so bad.

But, when your work dominates who you are, it might be time to draw a line.

Here’s why:

You won’t be there forever. The average number of years a Millennial stays at a company is 2.6 years. The length of a career averages 48 to 50 years. Do that math. It adds up to a lifetime of identity crises.

It’s all about the sacrifice, right? Not so fast. Sure, I get it. This is your livelihood. Your specialty. Your day-to-day. But does it have to be you? What else makes you smile, brings you joy, or showcases your best abilities? Find that. Develop it. And hang on tight.

Have you heard this: “Work to live, don’t live to work.” It’s cheesy. It’s true. One of the most common regrets of the dying: They wish that they hadn’t given so much of their time and identity to their work. I’m not saying stop working hard. I’m saying it’s possible to strike a balance that allows you to get sh%^ done without throwing unnecessary hours of your life into it.

Do you own it? Contrary to all I’ve said so far, if you’re the business owner, your work is you. I’m not sure there are many ways around that besides good time management. Since chances are you don’t own the company, that identity is already taken. No need to be the impostor.

Understand the meaning of genuine. Some synonyms: bona fide, certain, honest, legitimate, natural, palpable. Much better than the antonyms: quack, pretender, phony, don’t ya think? Put yourself in someone else’s shoes: Would you want to talk to the guy whose identity is his work? Whose conversation always leads back to the same place? I know the answer to that one.

People respect the boundary. If you try to maintain the line between you and you at work, it shows—and more often than not, someone else is trying to do the same and is delighted you’ve found that balance.

Christina Christian is an entrepreneurial, tech-savvy, dynamic marketing maven and community builder who works for Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams as events director. Connect with her on Twitter (@Christina_Lynn). A version of this article first appeared on PRTini.

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