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How to make sure your work doesn’t define you

Bijgewerkt: mrt 12

How things work in the 21st century: you’re born, you go to school, get a degree and then you get a job (that you might not necessarily like at first, but hey, you need to pay these college bills). This is how most of our generation have been taught to live our lives. What if you decide to go for your dreams and lifelong passions instead, let’s say, be a writer, a dancer or a glass maker? It is about time we review our society’s standards and learn how to see the value in others for who they are as a “someone” and not as a “something”. Our self-identity needs to be much more about our values, potential and qualities instead of job titles, financial statement or the car we drive. How to get there?


Balance your work-centrality

The idea that suggests that work plays a central role in people’s lives has a name: work-centrality. Have you ever noticed how the nature of your work is the first thing that comes to your mind when someone asks about who you are as a person? “My name is (insert name) and I’m a (insert job title) for the last (insert number of years)”.

Remember that your job serves a purpose: to pay your bills, rent, food, holidays, clothes, etc. How could what you do to get money capture who you are as a person? That’s right. It doesn’t. Period.


When you leave work, leave work physically and emotionally. Try to get an understanding of who are you outside of the workplace and what you do during your spare time. So that next time someone asks, you’ll be able to respond something like: “My name is (insert name) and I’m a proud (insert that one thing you love about yourself)”. You’ll see for your yourself that you have more to share than your job title.


A job is a job. It’s a way to pay for a living, but that’s it. Don’t let it define your happiness. You work to live, not live to work. Work on what makes you happy.

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Define your values and what you stand for

Before setting up a business, people take time to work on their mission, vision and values. Likewise, work on your set of values and core beliefs will help you know where and what you stand for in life. Use these question to help you define your values: What do you hold? Who is the person you aspire to be? How does this person interact and want to impact others?


Being aware of who you are will help you to get a better sense of direction which will empower you in your decision making process. Not only that, also in how you connect with people and the world and how to seek and be more receptive/open to new opportunities for growth. It has also been scientifically proven that knowing who you are makes you happier at work, increases your performance and strengthens your relationships. Your job and career might change, but you will always be and have you. Remember, you are your best investment. Take and make time to explore yourself, your values and what you stand for.


When I stand before God at the end of my life, I hope that I don’t have a single bit of talent left, and say, I used everything your gave me.

Lana Del Rey


Explore your hobbies and interests

We’re born to shine, that’s a fact. We’ve all been gifted with many talents we owe to discover throughout our life experiences. Consider yourself as a rough diamond; it always needs to be polished to shine bright.


We all have these hobbies or passions in our lives, that could be as simple as reading, taking pictures, giving back to the community, taking care of your family, etc. You might be too afraid to acknowledge because of what people might say about it. One thing’s for sure: we have to stop being afraid. Nurture and cherishing this (those) talent(s) is essential, as they again, deepen the relationship you build with yourself.


You’ve been put on Earth to explore, try, do, fail and repeat that process every time. Take that opportunity to scratch the layers of your beautiful diamond, for that it’ll teach you about who you are as a person, how you interact with others, and how much endorphins it can bring you on a daily basis. You don’t have to make a career out of it, but you can allow them to bring you more happiness and sanity into your life. Living our best lives is all we have.


I’ve learned that making a living is not the same as making a life.

Maya Angelou


Know yourself

Once you detach yourself from your job, and grasp the idea that it’s merely a mean to an end, you start seeing life as an endless pit of possibilities and opportunities. It gives you the necessary courage to listen and follow your heart, and to fully trust yourself regardless of what everyone else thinks.


Check in with yourself by asking yourself questions: How do I feel right now? What do I need in this moment? Find silence,write down your thoughts, set a daily reminder to focus on your breathing, create a conscious morning and evening routine, become aware of your thoughts, move your body, do more of what makes you happy and smile! Those are just a few things you can do to deepen and strengthen the relationship with yourself, to get to know who you are. You no longer depend on external factors to truly live happy; you are a “someone” and not a “something” anymore. And that, is freedom. Isn’t it what we all ultimately seek?


This article has been written by Sabrine Ewies, a former Nike, Inc. employee, who decided to leave her corporate life to pursue her dream of owning her dance school, specialised in urban dances. You will definitely hear more from her on TCOYS! For now, you can find out more about her inspirations and regular classes in Amsterdam on her Instagram at @sabou___

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