Work was my identity, now what?

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    Hello all,
    I am looking for some advice about a current situation I am in. I recently left my “dream job,” after a great promotion and growth opportunity to relocate to a new city due to my partner receiving a great educational opportunity here. I had a great supervisor, supportive colleagues, in a city I loved and felt very satisfied. However, three months ago I took a new, lower level job in a similar field to move to the same city as my partner. Our relationship is better than ever, and we’re very happy to be in the same place after a few years of long distance travel.

    I realize everything in life is a trade off, and I ultimately feel that I made the right decision to leave my job. However, I am feeling intense anxiety and stress. I am not enjoying my new company, the office politics, lack of trust, or supervisor’s style. I am making many efforts to keep perspective and work toward a better attitude, but find myself very emotional before and after work. On weekends, I can barely relax at the thought of spending hours on the train and then hours at my job. I have realized that much of my personal identity revolved around my former job, my friend/colleagues, and our company. There was a great sense of pride, confidence, and ambition working there. The work was interesting and productive. At my new job, there is very low moral, no pride for the company, and a stagnant culture. I think it is safe to say that this isn’t the best fit for me, however, I can’t financially begin to search for a new position or take a chance on another job at this point.

    Any recommendations or suggestions would be much appreciated!

    Kate Cooper

    Hi Jamie

    I completely understand how you are feeling. I once had a job that also included everyone around me identifying me as that person and when I left they also struggled as I no longer had an identity and as we know much of our lives are spent being put in categories and boxes by everyone else. But what I came to realise was that I had lost my purpose. I had made my job my life’s purpose, it was how I gauged my success, my worth, my identity. So over the last few years I have gone on another journey to identify what my purpose is an now I see wotk only as a small part of it. I would suggest that you look for the good things in your current job. My current job allows me to fulfil my purpose away from the work enviroment and made me realise I am more than a job and worth so much more. I then took the opportunity to design a new purpose in which the role and purpose work played was less then previously and reduced my expectations of what this played in my life. I have found things I do enjoy and have accepted what part it now playes which is significantly reduced and I know enjoy the fact that I have other priorities and purpose in my life. Enjoy the opportunity it is presenting and see where the journey will take you. P.S. after 2 years another opportunity presented itself which I am now moving onto however the experienced gained in the role I had has played a bit part in allowing me to move onto the new role. Enjoy xx


    Hhi Jamie.

    Kate’s advice sounds great. The one thing you wrote is that you can’t look for another job. I don’t agree. You sound to me like a very ambitious and dedicated worker who wants to be part of a really great work culture where you can contribute.

    You moved to a new job to be closer to your partner but the company is not a heat fit for you because you want to work somewhere you can make a greater impact and with people who are truly passionate about the work.

    There is nothing wrong with changing jobs under that scenario. If I was an employer I would respect that.

    So yes follow Kate’s advice, work should be less a part of your identity overall, but for right now, go get another job where you can enjoy those 40 weekly hours more.


    Hi Jamie,
    Earlier this year I was in real trouble, work was dragging me down so much that my whole life fell apart. family life became really difficult as I wasn’t happy at home due to the stress of work. I had a month off and the doctors prescribed me drugs to help with the depression. After 1 week of taking the pills I threw them away and left my job. I embarked on a 3 month period of reflection and tried to understand why everything had gone sooooo wrong. Eventually finances made me take a job again.

    Now, looking at your story, your life is in a very good position. You are happy in your family life, and really, that’s what is important!

    Think about this. If you do nothing, how long before your home life starts to really suffer?
    We all have a right to be happy, a right to be respected and trusted also. Why should you put up with anything less? You deserve better!
    Just because you want to be happy at home doesn’t mean you should balance the situation by being un-happy at work.

    Me… now??? I work 400miles away and travel each way weekly. I spend the weekend with my family and then go away to be happy at work. So yes, life is a compromise but I do not compromise my state of mind….that is unconditional!

    just one other thing…. when I left the last job, lots of people came up to me and said “we are sorry to see you go, you were a breath of fresh air around here”……………. maybe, just maybe if you stick your head above the pit in your current role and challenge the status quo, you may find people follow you and become passionate about their jobs once again? Just a thought……

    Whatever you decide to do I wish you well.

    Nerdy Creator

    Hi Jamie,

    I don’t believe that life is a trade off. If you search for people who has great work and family life out there, you definitely find some great examples. Good family life and good work life can co-exist!

    I feel that it’s important to satisfy your own work life needs. Being happy at work will further enhance your relationship with your partner. Think about this, we spend a great deal of our time at our work, if we aren’t happy with it, won’t we need to spend time off work to recover from it? Won’t it take away the quality time which you can spend with your partner?

    I suggest you really identify what you like and dislike about your current job and decide if it’s worth it for you to stay in your current job. If job environment is the main issue, there’s always other jobs out there with better working environment.

    Hope this helps,
    Nerdy Creator 🙂

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