Is identifying too much with professional life a problem? Of course, too much of anything can be a problem, but after a few years of reflecting on this, I am beginning to realize it's not an issue for me — as long as I do what I need to do maintain a healthy balance. Time and space for a diversity of activities, people and thinking is the answer. Have I mastered this? No. But awareness helps me manage it.
One of the reasons why I don't worry about it too much is because when I pause and look back at my career so far, it’s been a story of continued re-invention. What I mean by that, is any job role or title I have held at any given time — is and was just that. It is no longer defining me, but instead has become a part of me. I keep building upon what was or has been.
The re-invention has gone something like this.
Follow a passion or interest area; develop new skills and capabilities within a new discipline or industry; gain fluency in these things; and then self-disrupt by beginning the process over again. All the while maintaining the experiences I have had in a way that allows me to integrate them into what I will do next.
It is quite challenging to do this. Thankfully I have been able to pull it off. There is a lot of compromise: you probably don't see the early gains in income you may be able see with a more linear approach; it's extremely demanding to figure out how much time you need too spend working with your core strengths and how much time you can spend in new areas or skills ; and lastly it challenges you to look at stability, routine and structure of day-to-day living in a different way.
However, I do feel it works best for who I am and it feels a bit more like playing the long game and not about a bunch of early wins. It's exciting knowing that even if I can't describe it exactly, I know that I’m going somewhere with it.
I never knew why I have set out about things this way but am figuring it out in hindsight (another post on this to come). I long referenced myself to those who were living or developing their careers in a different way — and well — that's not been nourishing nor effective for my growth.
Others for inspiration, definitely - comparison just causes stress.
Lesson - drive your own energy to where you want to go with it.