Your Career Is Not Your Identity! | Ep #80

May 22, 2023

Your Career Is Not Your Identity! | Ep #80 Reminder our careers do not define us. If someone asks you to describe yourself and you lead with your job title, then this episode is for you. We are so much more than our careers! In this episode, host and career coach Shannon Russell explains why […]

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Your Career Is Not Your Identity! | Ep #80

Reminder our careers do not define us. If someone asks you to describe yourself and you lead with your job title, then this episode is for you. We are so much more than our careers! In this episode, host and career coach Shannon Russell explains why your career is not your identity and how you can begin to separate what you do for a living from who you are as a person.  Take a listen and take notes as you enjoy Episode #80 of Second Act Success Career Podcast. 


Your career is not your identity

Episode #80 – Your Career Is Not Your Identity!


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Second Act Success Career Podcast
Season 1 - ​​Your Career is Not Your Identity | Ep #80
Episode - #80
Host: Shannon Russell
Transcription (*created by Descript and may not be perfectly accurate)

Reminder our careers do not define us. If someone asks you to describe yourself and you lead with your job title, then this episode is for you. We are so much more than our careers, my friend. So stick around for this special episode of second act success.


Have you ever felt like what you are doing for a living is tied to who you are as a person. Of course, our profession is a huge part of our lives, but it does not define us. Our career is not our identity. Let me say that again. Our career is not [00:02:00] our identity.

Remember, we are people who choose how we want to make a living. We pursue that. We start working, we learn, we gained skills. We have experiences and we make money doing that work. Outside of work hours. We are people who have family, friends, hobbies, and goals. Therefore, what we do to make a living. Is merely a small percentage of what makes us a whole person.

Now, if this is true and we know it to be true, then why do so many people get career and identity confused? Let's take a closer look.

I believe it all starts when we're young and we learn about community workers, right? We're in school, we learned about doctors, firefighters, teachers we learned that our parents work in that work is this thing that people do for a good amount of their day to make money for their family. And so that we can have a house over our head and food on our table.

Adults love asking kids. What do you want to [00:03:00] be when you get older? And what do the adults do? They usually laugh or say, oh, that's so cute. I feel like adults often pushed their thoughts or feelings about a particular profession onto children. oh, you don't want to do that. That job is hard or. Oh, wouldn't you much rather work at a school. You would be a great teacher. Or my favorite is, oh, girls, you don't want to fight crime. No, you don't want to fight fires. Wouldn't you rather be a teacher or a mommy? So there's lots of stereotypes that are instilled in children at a very young age about what work is and what different work roles are. From a young age, our views. On a grownup career can be very skewed.

When I was five years old. I decided that I wanted to work in Hollywood. I remember adults in my family thinking that this was so funny and just so unattainable but you know what. It was unattainable for them. It was a thought that they hadn't really pondered. But my parents never [00:04:00] told me that I could not do this. They may have told me that it would be challenging or hard or. A little trickier than being someone who just worked in my town, but they always supported me on that adventure and supported my dream. They actually helped me make a California bank to save money in. And I had this from probably the age of five on and any time I would get money, I would put it in that bank and save it. So that one day I could make it to Hollywood. What I decided to do at a really young age is tune everyone else out. I kept this dream to myself, only told the people that I really truly cared about. And years later when I actually was moving to Hollywood, I remember my grandparents being so, so scared that I was going to be amongst mean people out there. And it was a scary industry. And And maybe it was, or maybe it still is, but I knew that I wasn't mean, and I wasn't scary. So this job was [00:05:00] just a way for me to make money for my life, doing something that I was passionate about. It wasn't going to consume my life and become my identity. It was something that I wanted to pursue as my career, as my job, as my way of supporting myself. Just because I worked in Hollywood didn't mean I was going to become a Hollywood stereotype. as I achieved my career and I was moving up the ladders in Hollywood as a female television producer, my grandparents became my biggest supporters. And I remember calling my grandmother every night as I drove home in crazy traffic in LA. She was so proud of me. And we were just talking about the day and she knew that I was still me. I think that really, hopefully reinstilled my values to her and that this wasn't. All encompassing my life and taking over who her granddaughter was.

But my question is [00:06:00] what if I took these comments to heart when I was young. And that the people that laughed at what I wanted to be when I grew up, what if I actually let their opinions waiver my decision. Where would I be today? Luckily, I knew who I was as a person and who I was as a person was separate from what I wanted to do for a living.

Have you ever heard the quote? If you do what you love, you won't work a day in your life. This is a beautiful thought. And as I sit here, speaking with you on this podcast of mine, working as a career coach, I wholeheartedly agree. I agree that if you do what you love, it won't feel like work. However, I just want to be real and speak to the fact that, you know, Finding something that you absolutely love. And having it never feels like you're working a day in your whole life is maybe a little bit easier said than done at times. It's important to keep in mind that [00:07:00] pursuing a career based on passion. May be fulfilling on your heart, but it may not always bring the kind of financial stability that you may need. And additionally, not everyone has a clear passion or an interest that aligns with a career. So for some people, or honestly, for a majority of people, it is okay to find a job that pays the bills. And just utilize your creative passions in your free time as your hobby. And If this is you and you were working at a job that you need to take every day to provide for your family. Be proud that you have a job to go to every day that you can make a living for yourself and for your family. It is not a reflection on your creativity or your worth as a person. You are being responsible in using your drive to provide. so I urge you to use your creative passions and what you really do want to do with your life in other ways. So there's definitely a balance. There is what [00:08:00] I'm trying to get at. As long as you love what it is that you're doing for work, you won't work a day in your life, so you can love your job. Because it is providing for you. You can love your job because it is stable. You can love your job because it is reliable. Familiar and comfortable. It might not be what you dreamt about as a little girl, but that is okay.

You and I are talking about how careers do not define us. So I want to talk about the idea of a perfect career, right? You work on this idea for when you're young, this perfect career. I'm going to be this doctor when I get older and it is the perfect career for me. If you are striving for the perfect career or the perfect second act, you may find that there are too many factors surrounding this concept. So, what do I mean by that? To find a job that pays well offers creativity, offers flexibility and supports your [00:09:00] values. Does it exist? I don't know. You might not be able to find a perfect job. A perfect career that checks all of those boxes. And that's okay because it may not completely exist. So it's important to not put pressure on ourselves to find this perfect career that is going to be perfect for us. Yes, strive for that. And maybe you'll check two of the boxes and not all six, whatever it is. Please Keep in mind that finding that perfect job is different for everyone. So make your list of why's make your list of non-negotiables make your list of skills. And just as you're looking for that next step. Take all of those lists into consideration. If you can strive to have, like I said, just to have those boxes checked, that might be the perfect job or perfect career for you right now.

Okay, Let's bring it back to the idea that our careers are only one aspect of our lives. If we put all of our [00:10:00] energy into our careers, then we end up neglecting our personal lives, which can quickly lead to burnout. It is crucial. My friend that you carved out time for family, friends, and most importantly for yourself each week, otherwise, your workweek will take over your life. 24 7. And I know we've all been there where you're working so much and you're like, oh, it's Friday. Let me just close the laptop and I'll pick it back up on Sunday. Well, now it's Sunday and half of your day has gone and you're stressing about Monday and it just starts that ball rolling. So if you can truly block out on your calendar time for yourself, time to work out, time to read that book time to spend with your family, whatever it is, mark it on your calendar, mark it on a sticky note on your desktop and make sure that you stick to it. Because it is okay to prioritize our personal lives over [00:11:00] our jobs.

As a career transition coach, You know that I talk a lot about changing careers on this podcast. But nowadays changing careers is more and more common and more and more people are changing jobs due to layoffs workplace toxicity. And just a need for a new challenge. I think the pandemic really taught us that it is okay to step out of our comfort zone. It's okay to find. Something that we're going to spend a lot of our week on that fulfills us. That is something that we truly believe in. If you choose to transition into something new, be sure to view this as something that's exciting and not really ever flection on leaving one job at a boredom or haphazardly, getting a new one. You want to know that whatever you're pivoting into is something that truly means something to you. Again, it goes back to remembering that career transitions. Don't define us either. If anything, career stability is less and less [00:12:00] common these days. So I always advise people to have a backup plan brewing while you are working.

For example, a number of my friends and former colleagues at MTV. Jess got laid off. Due to the recent Paramount Network, the parent company of MTV laying off about 25% of its staff. They also closed the entire MTV news department after 36 years. There were people who have been there for a bulk of their career. And now the department is closed. They thought they had stability with a company that's been around forever and clearly they don't. Not anymore. This shakeup at the company where I began my career has really kind of opened the eyes for a lot of my friends and colleagues. Who have been at the company since they graduated college. And now they're out of a job and they don't have experience outside of that company. They will be forced to have these career transitions. But it does not define [00:13:00] them.

My goal really is to normalize, changing careers and not allowing career transitions to have any kind of stigma. If anything, it gives us an opportunity to grow. As people learn new skills and embrace new experiences that we may not have had. If we see it at the same. Company in the same position for life. Switching up your career, shifting to a new position, moving even internally to a new department, to get a new challenge, all of that should not be frowned upon. In my opinion, it should be looked at with admiration because you are willing to try something new. You're wanting to learn new skills. You're wanting to use your experience in a new way to help a new team. So that is actually really cool.

Also it's okay to change careers multiple times throughout our lives. As we grow and evolve as individuals, our worth is not tied to a specific job or career path. Don't let fear hold you back because of [00:14:00] what you think you should be doing. Or what you think your identity is or what you think people know you as. People know you. And what you do for a living to support yourself and your family is a small part of who you are.

Overall it's time to redefine what success means to us. Oftentimes we defined success by external measures, such as job titles and salaries yet. I really, really encourage you to define success on your own terms. Success can be defined by personal growth, fulfillment, happiness. It can be about pursuing a passion project or volunteering on the side or spending time with loved ones. It's really important to recognize. Success is subjective and it can change throughout our lives. What we veered as success in our twenties is different than success in our thirties, in our forties. And so on. Success for us should continue to [00:15:00] change. As we challenge ourselves and we grow and we evolve and we should be able to look for success. In a variety of ways beyond our jobs. Maybe success is finding a new hobby that you do with your family on the weekends. Maybe it's learning how to run a marathon. Or trying to write that book. You've always jumped about. Or starting a podcast. Whatever it is, let that goal become the success that you are striving for outside of what you do during your nine to five.

As I wrap up this France on careers, not defining us, I'm reminding you one more time that our careers are only one aspect of our lives. And they should not define us as individuals. It's important to prioritize our personal lives and find a healthy work-life balance at all times.

And additionally redefining success on our own terms and recognizing that the value of our transferable skills can lead to greater fulfillment and happiness in all [00:16:00] aspects of our life. I just want to leave you with one more message in your ear.

Remember that our careers. Are not the sole measure of our worth as women. We are complex individuals with a variety of ideas, interests, skills, and identities. That extend way beyond our jobs.

All right. Thanks for hanging out with me, my friend. I hope this pep-talk has given you a lot to think about as you head into your day, and I will be back for another episode of the Second Act Success Career Podcast. Very soon. Make it a great one. My friends.



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Episode #79: Reality TV Producer Turned Mental Health Therapist with Melody Murray

Episode #78: From Earning 33 Cents To Building a SAS Company with Nosheen Khan