Boxing Ourselves In

June 20, 2011 07:44

Recently, I've been thinking a lot about identity. How our identity is shaped. Should we box ourselves into only one?

What happens when everything changes and we lose that identity we worked so hard to create?

Trying to figure out the answers to these questions has been on my mind, mainly because of all the transitions many of the people around me are going through right now.

It seems to me that most of us, first and foremost, find our identity through the career that we are in.  Of course, this would make sense.

But it also raises an important and thought-provoking question.  Do we really want to create our identity solely around our jobs?  What happens when you retire?  What about if you lose your job, get burned out, or a new boss shows up with whom you don't get along?

I don't know if you'll agree with me, but I've come to understand that we shouldn't box our primary identity around the career we've chosen.  The working world has become too volatile for us to make that choice.

Instead, I'd propose taking a multifaceted approach, which might prove to be far more long-lasting and beneficial.

Start with our family.  Let your primary identity be as a son/daughter, husband/wife, mother/father, sister/brother.  We also belong to God, and we are His children.  Our primary identity needs to be shaped in part by our relationship with Him.

Next move to friendship.  Shape your identity around the friends that you have, whether they be neighbors, co-workers, fellow church members, school/college buddies.  These should be people who are in it for the long haul.  They invest in you, you invest in them.

Then move to things you love to do.  Have some of your identity shaped around your hobbies: fishing, cooking, biking, singing, gardening, painting, coaching, volunteering, or stamp/coin collecting. The list is endless.

Lastly, go to your career.  Of course, because we spend so much time and energy at work, some of our identity will be based on the work we do.  It just makes sense.

In the end, we need to make a shift of focus and balance things out.  Most of us, including me, have boxed ourselves in to a certain way of thinking.

Let's use the next couple of weeks to open up and unpack these boxes we've put ourselves in.  Let's think about putting things back together in a more balanced, holistic way.

Getting this done now will make for a better year ahead.  I can already feel it :)

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