Your day job does not define you

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA I feel like it's a weird time to be forging a career at the moment. When our parents left school or college or uni, it was pretty much expected that they would get a job in a respectable industry and work hard at it and stay with the same company for their whole life. They might have changed department or moved companies once or twice, but overall, careers were fairly stable, and restructures and redundancies were infrequent. Thesedays, however, the dynamics within the world of work have shifted so much that trying to navigate it is a bit of a minefield.

The biggest thing I've realised since starting my career five years ago is that there's no such thing as a job for life anymore, and in many industries, there's no such thing as linear progression either. Careers seem to be more of a strange sort of back, forth, sideways dance thesedays, involving different companies and roles and changes in direction. I have a couple of friends that have already been through two or three restructures since we left uni, and it can be hard to stay focussed on the end game when you're not really sure what your next step is going to be or even if your job is going to exist a few months down the line.

I also don't think it helps that there seems to be so much pressure on finding your "dream job". It seems like pretty much everyday I come across another article or blog post written by someone who quit their corporate job to chase their dream and now they are happy and rich and living their best life, blah blah blah. I'm not undermining the successes that those people have had, in fact I find them incredibly inspiring, but as someone who has never had one big dream job in mind, their advice is sometimes a little lost on me. I don't think there is one single job that would make me 100% happy and satisfied in all areas at all times, and I know many others who feel the same, so why do we all put ourselves under so much pressure to find one?

With the rise of the freelancer economy and the number of people setting up shop on their own, it kind of feels uncool to have a regular 9-5 day job with a corporate company thesedays. I sometimes wonder if I'm not doing my creative side justice by working in a sales role with numbers and targets and strategies and tactics. It's not quite as sexy as the whole free-spirited, creatively principled artist type, is it? But while my job might not seem as exciting on paper, it's taught me a lot about business and working as a team and building relationships.

The point I'm trying to make is that we are not defined by our day jobs. Sure, we spend a lot of time at work, but we also spend a lot of time doing non-work related activities too. There's a whole chunk of non-work time in my schedule that is all mine to do what I like with. I can use that time to learn new skills and try other things on for size, without the pressure of making money from them. Just because I have a corporate job doesn't mean that I'm a boring, suit wearing type who can't be creative. I can be good at selling things and doing whizzy stuff on Excel AND be good at taking photos and telling stories and exploring ideas.

And we need to get rid of this idea that we're wasting our lives if we're not in love with our day jobs. It's okay to acknowledge that they serve a purpose other than pure job satisfaction, like helping us to pay our bills and giving us a semblance of routine. And it's important to remember that no job is perfect (even if it looks that way on the surface!)

My day job does not define me, and your day job does not define you. So don't let it.