For many of us, our idea of who we are is often intertwined with the work we do. Finding yourself through a job change can be hard. Regardless of the profession, we typically identify ourselves as a lawyer, an electrician, a teacher, etc…our worth is associated with our productivity.
For decades we considered that being a good employee meant putting in 40 plus hour weeks, working at night or on the weekends, and getting in early or staying late. The idea was that the more we did at work, the better off we would be in the future. The pandemic provided the backdrop for people to question this approach and what they want their life to look like.
According to a recent article in The Atlantic, “More and more Americans are realizing that voluntarily leaving your job today isn’t always just about securing a better lifestyle; it’s also about the redefinition of self.”
The changes brought about by the pandemic provided an opportunity for overworked Americans to question their assumptions about how much they work and what they are getting out of it. Instead of accepting what we believed we had to do to get ahead, the pandemic and the advancements in technology have opened up new avenues to a meaningful work-life balance.
For those with children, working from home has profoundly altered their relationships. Eliminating the time to get ready and then commute to and from work has enabled families to spend more time together. This is illustrative of the many reasons we are seeing record numbers of people voluntarily quit their jobs to find ones that better fit their new view of what they want their life to be and how they see themselves.
According to the article, “Devotion to an employer is often a one-sided romance. “In many industries, the pandemic revealed just how transactional the workplace is,” Lauren Rivera, a sociologist who studies company personnel practices, told me over the phone. “When the jobs won’t love you back … it makes you rethink things.””
Disassociating your view of yourself from your work is a new paradigm and may take some getting used to. Changing that entrenched view may cause some trouble initially as you seek to rediscover yourself. Be prepared to adjust and be aware that there will be some bumps in the road as you go through the process.
The changes we’re seeing in the workforce today are more about people finding themselves first and knowing what makes them happy, then finding work that meets their expectations of how they want to contribute their skills and ideas in the workplace.
Smart companies should view recent developments as an opportunity to reevaluate how they think of their employees. Seeking to understand what employees want out of their job and providing them with opportunities to grow and develop as a person as well as an employee provides value. “The people who have found new fulfillment outside their career remind us that tectonic change in American society begins with individuals realigning their life to reflect their deepest values.”
For more information about the great resignation and the current state of the jobs market, check out our blog.