This question on LinkedIn inspired me well beyond what is allowed in the comment box. Mike asks “For many of us, a significant part of our identity is the work we do. In this continued difficult job market and high unemployment, how do we maintain our self identity when we can’t find work?”
Is that self-identity real or one I settled for in my years in that job or career? What if this is an opportunity to reinvent or rediscover oneself? When I left teaching on medical stress leave after nearly 20 years I had no idea who I was without the label “teacher”. You know what I eventually realized? Being a teacher was never my dream. It was someone else’s dream for me. Maybe the task at hand is not to maintain your old self-identity, but to invent or discover something better.
Seek New Opportunities To Contribute
Many people have their sense of identity entangled with their work because that is the most common source of fulfillment for several of our most basic human needs. Such as significance, contribution and community. In our jobs we have responsibility. It matters if we don’t get our work done. Our work is significant. We are contributing to something bigger than us. And even though some people at the office may make us crazy we have a community we go to and are a part of each day.
When all that is suddenly gone and is gone for a long time it is hard to maintain a sense of identity. What if there were opportunities for us to contribute in other areas of our lives?
There is quite a bit of research on the impact helping others has not only on the person being helped, but also on the person helping. All kinds of happy juices flood the brain. We experience a sense of significance, community and contribution.
There are wonderful organizations that serve people, critters and the world in so many different ways. Many of them are struggling to survive this recession. Think for a moment. If all the people in America right now out of work volunteered their skills for just 10 hours a week. Want to experience significance? Contribution? Community? Reach out and offer your services to a cause you really believe in.
So often when people think of volunteering they think of planting trees or serving soup or hanging out with packs of unruly kids. But every one of those organizations needs other services as well. Are you in marketing? Find the organization that you believe in and offer to do a pro bono marketing campaign. Got accounting skills? Help with the books. Whatever you do there is someone that will be eternally grateful for your contribution.
Top Ten Benefits Of Volunteering
10) You get to use your skills. I think that’s the biggest challenge for people who aren’t employed – not getting to use their skills
9) You get to have a project besides the job search to think about. Watch how creative and innovative your suddenly become in your job search when you have another fun project.
8) You are out interacting with people in a context other than groveling for a job. You are contributing. Watch how confident you become again. It will spill over to your job interviews
7) You have some structure to your schedule and something to look forward to in your week. It’s hard to get out out bed and face yet another day of trolling the Linkedin Job postings.
6) When we follow our passions abundance follows – this could end up turning into a paying job or you could meet your next employer in the course of serving.
5) You could save an organization that is making a difference from extinction.
4) You may never know the ripples of positive impact your contribution makes.
3) Reinvent or rediscover yourself.
2) Trigger a cascade of positive brain juices not only for yourself but also for the people you work with
1) You contribute to the change of the collective mindset about the economic climate – when everyone talks about it and fears it we get more of it. We need more people thinking at a higher level.
I’m hoping that this recession ends up being a great gift by driving people to reconnect with themselves and and their community. My experience among my friends, network and village was as soon as times “got hard” everyone pulled together, started looking out for one another a little bit more. Where I could be feeling lack and hardship I’m experiencing a warm glow from a deep sense of connection.
If you enjoyed this post register to receive similar posts.
Filed Under: Business Success