Stop Letting Your Work Define Your Worth

This was originally published on LinkedIn over 2 years ago. I thought it was worth revisiting. I really could stand to utilize the advice my younger self dished out! Enjoy the read.

This one is for my recent grads.

Let’s face it: a lot of us are not in the “dream job” that we were visualizing when we were in college.

Some of us feel like there’s so much more we can be doing and we aren’t getting the opportunities to really showcase our skills and talents.

Others of us have really landed great positions and are doing extremely well for ourselves at our given age.

No matter which category you fall into, I’d say to take caution. Do not fall into the trap of believing that your worth is defined by a job title.

Yes, it may be true that you bust your butt in college to earn your degree, so you deserve a job “in your field.” Yes, you want to earn enough money to pay off your student loans and start a savings account.

But, if you go around thinking that you’ll be happier or more secure when you get to this level or that level, then you will never find contentment. Likewise, if you place your security in your job or salary, then you will find yourself dealing with issues of pride and entitlement.

Don’t get me wrong. I am not encouraging anyone to settle. What I am saying, though, is that there are blessings in every season of life. If we open our eyes to how we can serve where we are instead of waiting to arrive somewhere else, we can experience great joy.

What we have to do is start seeing our work differently. All jobs are valuable. All jobs are necessary, useful, beneficial to society. All workers are valuable. All workers are necessary, useful and beneficial to society. If you can develop a heart of humility in a lower position, then you will be so much more gracious to those in lower positions when you move up. If you are in a higher position yet relate to everyone else as if they were on your level, then you will develop a good reputation and charisma.

Life isn’t about climbing corporate ladders or stacking paper. It isn’t about having a good-sounding job so you can impress your friends and family. Life is about going through experiences to purify your soul and instilling those lessons in the next generation.

Some of the most stable jobs don’t have “mobility.” For example, some teachers hold their positions for decades. Sometimes, they even stay in the same classroom for years and they still love what they do. Similarly, once you pass the bar, you’re a lawyer for life. You may or may not move up in “rank,” but that isn’t the reason why you pursued law in the first place. Think about it. There isn’t anything higher than a CEO. At some point, you will have to find contentment in where you are. Start to assess where that void, where that hunger for more, is really coming from.

When you bring your full self to your place of work, then you will realize that you define your work; your work doesn’t define you. You decide if you’re going to operate in excellence every day. You decide if you’re going to maintain integrity in situations of conflict. You decide if you’re going to overlook an injustice or speak up against it.

Let your work bring out the best in you. Let it prepare you for whatever lies ahead. Let it teach you discipline, time-management, organization and people skills. Let it teach you patience, forgiveness, trust and accountability.

These things are eternal. These things are inside of you. Your work simply pulls them out.

More is coming. Until then, serve where you are. Get to know your coworkers. Laugh together. Don’t isolate yourself. Open yourself up to however you are needed. Everything will fall into place.


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