At a wedding I attended a few years ago, I started chatting to a lady during the reception. The reception was taking place in a marquee in the beautiful countryside and, as expected, everyone was in good spirits. The lady I was talking to was extremely friendly and, having introduced myself to her, I asked:
‘What do you do?’
She looked slightly embarrassed and hesitated. She eventually responded by saying that she didn’t do anything.
Really? Can this be right? Did she do nothing at all?
Baffled by her answer and unsure how to respond, I moved the conversation on as I continued chatting with her. During our conversation I discovered that she of course did do something. In fact, she did lots of things! She was a mother of three children, a housewife, volunteered a lot of time to her local community and enjoyed running.
This lady’s response is not unusual.
For many, work has been such a dominant part of their lives that it dominates their thoughts, feelings and lives. When asked ‘what do you do?’, the only thing they think of is work.
Does this mean without work, we do nothing?
There are risks involved in allowing work to dominate our lives in this way. These risks are created from the presence of a huge imbalance in our lives as we give lots of time and energy to work, leaving little time to attend to all other aspects of our lives. This imbalance is barely noticeable when work is going well. During these times you feel strong and good about yourself. You are achieving. However, we all know that work is rarely good all the time and there is a risk that when it is not going well, or you are not in paid employment, the imbalance can make you feel fragile, unhappy and stressed. It is left to the weaker areas of your life to make you feel good about yourself. While you feel like this, the possibility of finding a career you enjoy moves further and further away as you become increasingly despondent and stressed.
I may be painting a bleak picture, but I want to highlight to you the risk of allowing work to take over your life and the impact this can have on a job search, or even your performance at work, when it is not going well.
If you find that work is starting to dominate your thoughts, feelings and actions, it is time to restore the balance in your life. Take the time to think about all areas of your life, such as health, contribution, learning, relaxation and relationships, and work out how you can establish a healthy balance between them all each week. Perhaps make some time to learn something new or to help others. Also, ensure you allow enough time to exercise, see friends and to relax. You want to be able to provide a range of answers to the question ‘What do you do?’ so that when the strength of one area in your life is under threat, other parts of your life can help to strengthen and restore it again.
Restoring the balance in your life will improve your motivation, confidence and happiness, making it easier to continue your job search and find a job you enjoy.