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Defining self-worth outside of work?
Old 09-03-2019, 07:00 PM   #1
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Defining self-worth outside of work?



Work has left me feeling really devalued lately. And I'm working on fixing that.

But it's also made me realize I place too much of my self-identity by my successes at work and how people at work see me. Obviously will be a huge issue when I stop working.

Any suggestions for making the shift away from defining myself by my work?

Any helpful exercises?

How did you make the shift?
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Old 09-03-2019, 07:25 PM   #2
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You'll feel great and earn the respect of others outside of work if you are genuinely friendly, treat everyone you meet with dignity and respect and take time to talk with and get to know others that you meet.
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Old 09-03-2019, 07:26 PM   #3
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Outside interests.
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Old 09-03-2019, 07:30 PM   #4
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I never let work define me in the first place, just as I didn't let myself be defined by other societal gauges, e.g. popularity. I define myself by how well I meet goals that I've set for myself, and how I uphold my personal code of ethics.

Work started out as a means to earn a living and save for retirement. Along the way, work became a way to get better educated about life, people, and the world in general. In the end, I extracted everything I possibly could out of work, and then I left it.
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Old 09-03-2019, 07:33 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by lsimpson33 View Post

Work has left me feeling really devalued lately. And I'm working on fixing that.

But it's also made me realize I place too much of my self-identity by my successes at work and how people at work see me. Obviously will be a huge issue when I stop working.

Any suggestions for making the shift away from defining myself by my work?

Any helpful exercises?

How did you make the shift?
I can't give you any advice, I can only say what happened to me. I retired in 2016 and at least two months before I left I quit caring what others thought about me. I had plans. They came very rapidly upon me, but when they did and I knew I could make it happen, I quit caring what others thought of me at work.

I'll tell you something else, it made my remaining days at work a million times easier to take. I had plans and knew where I was going and I didn't need anyone's approval for that.
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Old 09-03-2019, 07:41 PM   #6
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I never let work define me in the first place, just as I didn't let myself be defined by other societal gauges, e.g. popularity. I define myself by how well I meet goals that I've set for myself, and how I uphold my personal code of ethics.
+1. I had a good career (for the most part), and I was good at what I did, but I knew far before I retired that I needed to leave the job behind (completely) when I moved to the next phase of my life. I don't really know how to tell you to do that, because it came pretty naturally for me.
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Old 09-03-2019, 08:00 PM   #7
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I never let work define me in the first place, just as I didn't let myself be defined by other societal gauges, e.g. popularity. I define myself by how well I meet goals that I've set for myself, and how I uphold my personal code of ethics.

Work started out as a means to earn a living and save for retirement. Along the way, work became a way to get better educated about life, people, and the world in general. In the end, I extracted everything I possibly could out of work, and then I left it.
What she said.
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Old 09-03-2019, 10:07 PM   #8
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Work didn’t define me either, but my Megacorp had a retirement preparation workshop where they had everyone make a list of roles you play in your life - parent, spouse, friend, mentor, boss, subordinate, sports buddy, etc. Then you cross out the ones that will no longer apply once you retire. Most of the roles will be ones you’ll still play in people’s lives. That might help.
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Old 09-03-2019, 10:23 PM   #9
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I never let work define me in the first place, just as I didn't let myself be defined by other societal gauges, e.g. popularity. I define myself by how well I meet goals that I've set for myself, and how I uphold my personal code of ethics.
Very well said and great advice.
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Old 09-04-2019, 04:50 AM   #10
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Others have given sage advice. My $.02


Work has left me feeling really devalued lately. And I'm working on fixing that.

Why? It's w*rk. Do not let work define your value.

But it's also made me realize I place too much of my self-identity by my successes at work and how people at work see me. Obviously will be a huge issue when I stop working.

A month after retirement, most of those people will be meaningless to you. In my case, I had one real friend at work. He left 5 years before I did. We still do stuff together. The rest were co-workers - that's all.

I enjoy volunteering. I believe in giving back to my community and serving others as my beliefs require of me. I find much greater value in this than I ever did at mega-c*orp. W*rk environment would often be toxic. In contrast, volunteering allows me to team up with great people while doing something for others who are in need of a little light in their lives. Find a hobby, a vocation, a purpose. i vol a few hours per week - I'm not trying to mimic Mother Theresa.
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Old 09-04-2019, 05:06 AM   #11
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Let me tell you what a huge boost to self-esteem it is to be financially independent of a j*b (or, as I secretly tell myself - because it's not really true, just emotionally - I'm rich!). Let me tell you what a huge boost to self-esteem it is to not be wasting my time writing reports that will neither be used or even read. (Best case for me was that some intern somewhere would check an online box "Final Report Received" and that I'd never hear another word about it). Let me tell you what a huge boost to self-esteem it is to no longer say, "Sure, I'll do it," when approached by bosses about some responsibility that was technically theirs.

I think it likely that the devaluation you feel at w*rk will change directions towards "valued" after you leave.
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Old 09-04-2019, 05:19 AM   #12
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Have no illusions about your value at Megacorp, they will replace you in a heartbeat. You need to find a time consuming hobby that will keep your mind active after you leave your job.
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Old 09-04-2019, 05:42 AM   #13
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This is a good thread, it made me think. When I left my big job more than six years ago, I did not look back. I didn't do that consciously, but I was ready to be gone. In thinking about it, I always defined myself more as a mom, wife, grandma, etc. I had a long, mostly satisfying career, but the other stuff came first for me.

Good luck to you!!
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Old 09-04-2019, 05:46 AM   #14
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It's not the reason I run, but as a bonus running does give me a feeling of self-worth. Getting healthier makes me feel better, and improving my times and increasing my distance is a measurable mark of accomplishment. At 57 and having been running marathons for 18 years I've peaked so times aren't getting faster, but I can try to keep them close, and use age adjustments like the Boston marathon qualifying standard.

It doesn't have to be running. Lifting weights, golfing, riding a bike, even just walking all have measurable components, including weight and BP.
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Old 09-04-2019, 06:25 AM   #15
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Look for success in other areas: physical challenges, learn something new, train for an event, teach someone something, volunteer for something fun or something you care about, start a hobby business. Challenge yourself to grow.
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Old 09-04-2019, 07:18 AM   #16
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Two statements I always kept in mind, and would be good for OP to help change the outlook of job vs self:
1. Quality of life is when you go out the gate/door from work, not when going in.
2. Work to live, not live to work.


It can be tough to see yourself as something different than how you have defined yourself for many years. I was an engineer, and still am one even though I am not working as an engineer. But my life also includes many other activities and interests that are not dependent on being an engineer. It is these other activities and interests that will fill your retirement, and soon your work identity will be just a past memory.


Edit to add: just thought of something, at an old employer when I was first starting out my megacorp career, an older guy said "Put your hand in a bucket of water and pull it out, the hole that is left is how much you will be missed". It was true then and it is still true today.
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Old 09-04-2019, 07:50 AM   #17
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This is an interesting topic to me. I very much ascribe to much the advice found here - find outside interests, megacorp doesn't value you as much as you may think you do, etc.

All things that I believe to be true. But it is hard for me to separate my value and worth from work when spending five days a week, 8 hours a day at work. Add in commute times and the occasional late night or weekend work it becomes even harder.

I have also personally seen my career aspirations go very sideways from what I wanted them to be. Some of it my fault, some of it out of my control. It had left me in a place where I am uncertain what to do next. I likely have 20ish years left working. Maybe a couple more years, maybe a couple less. I'd like to spend my time working mattering in some way at least. I could reinvent myself professionally, but am not quite ready to do that yet as it would require some risk and my wife is currently getting her masters degree. Now is not the time for risk taking.

My point in this ramble being that, I completely agree work is not where one should define oneself. But it is difficult to separate self from work if the two have been combined for a period of time. Even with hobbies, other interests, etc. It isn't a snap of the fingers. I am still figuring out how to detach myself.
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Old 09-04-2019, 08:00 AM   #18
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Personally, I believe humility will keep you happier in life more than worrying yourself about self esteem. Find ways of using your talents to help others. You’ll have more inner peace knowing you’ve made a difference in someone’s life that may not have had the advantages you’ve had.
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Old 09-04-2019, 08:16 AM   #19
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I'm not going to lie to you: there are some days where I wonder about my self-worth now that I am retired one year. However, I also had plenty of those days at Megacorp.

This usually pops its ugly head up when I watch a TV show that talks about the great achievements some engineer or scientist made. I always wonder to myself: "What if I stuck with it, would I have been the next great breakthrough?"

Then I realize I chose a life with Megacorp, and there was no way. I would have had to quit MC anyway.

I'm also in an online group of my recent co-w*rkers who were all laid off by my old Megacorp. They are currently all looking for work. I'm giving any pointers I have. I see them struggling with this too, as some are considering ER, while others are just searching for worth. It sometimes causes that feeling to well up in me too.

This fact alone has irony. I retired from MC, and MC just laid off a bunch of people I worked with. Clearly, MC is not concerned with our self worth!

In summary, it is doubtful to find it at a Megacorp, unless you have just the right role.

PS: I'm doing hurricane relief work and the many thank-yous and tears of joy I've gotten are worth decades of grinding it out at Megacorp.
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Old 09-04-2019, 08:19 AM   #20
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When DH walked out of megacorp, 8 years ago, he was angry. His self esteem and confidence, beaten down. His past successes were in the rear view mirror and colleagues who were friends, distanced themselves.

It's weird. He had a top rating for many years. Went into work with confidence and determination. "When the going gets tough, the tough get going" attitude, until it didn't. Psychologically it is devastating. He left with a year severance package. But left with contempt. He questioned his worth.

Today, after a few years of analyzing the f_ _ _ _ing manipulation and backstabbing that went on, his life is peaceful, confident, healthy and the guy I married 35 years ago.

"They" can break you down. You have to be true to yourself. Go to a quiet place and restore your dignity. Once you do this, you can become a mentor, volunteer for a cause and help others.
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