I used to be completed defined by my job. A good day at work meant a good day overall. A bad day at work affected other parts of my life and didn’t end when I left the office. Being ambitious and having high standards meant anything less than what I saw as self-perfection, affected me negatively. I took pride in how important my work was to me but there was a downside to having my sense of self so closely tied to it. Having a job you care about is a wonderful thing but it is essential that your sense of worth and self-esteem exist independently of what you do.
I was in a senior leadership position when I realised I didn’t have much of a life. On paper I was doing very well and extremely proud of my achievements. My personal life however was seriously lacking. After years of studying for my degree, masters and various professional qualifications, I had lost touch with who I was and what I wanted outside of my academic and professional achievements. If any of this resonates with you, try the following to create a more fulfilling life outside of work:
1) Have a dream
What does your ideal personal life look like? Have a brainstorming session and make a note of all the things you would like to have, feel and experience. If this is difficult, think about the things that currently make you happy and that you’d like to have more of. Do the same for the things you would like to have less of. Having a clear vision in your mind is important; if you know what you want, you can start making it happen.
2) Try something new
You may not know what you want outside of work but by trying new things you can learn more about yourself and potentially discover something you love. I would advise you not to sign up for evening French classes, like I did, immediately after completing my masters. It was winter; cold, dark and I only lasted one term. Do something fun; something that doesn’t feel like hard work.
3) Put yourself first
I would never miss a work deadline or let anyone down but I have certainly broken promises to myself. It can be a lot harder to be committed to our personal goals in the same way we commit to work goals but you have to prioritise yourself or no one else will. Create a plan for everything you want to achieve in your personal life. Add in some deadlines and then ask a coach, mentor or friend to hold you accountable. You absolutely deserve to be as successful in your personal life as you are in your career.
I turned my life around by travelling. I’d been so busy with my studies that I hadn’t seen the inside of an airport for four years and had barely left London in that time. Travelling gave me a sense of freedom and adventure, as well as mental clarity. I also tried lots of new classes and volunteered for charities, discovering a love of working with young people, which completely surprised me! I now work with high achievers who want to have happier, exciting and more fulfilling lives, to make those dreams and goals a reality. I love what I do and I am now so much more than my job title.