When your sense of self-worth and identity are attached to your work, what do you do when the world asks you to stop?

A foundation of our society in the 21st century is to work, save money, buy a house, build your wealth and then continue working until you retire at 65 (for the average Australian). It gives us a sense of meaning and for many of us, including myself, a sense of self-worth and identity. 

Suddenly, we find ourselves in a precarious position where some people can’t work at all and others need to navigate working from home and having their entire routine thrown out of whack.

As an extrovert, I get my energy, stay motivated and feel positive by being around other people. As someone who is career driven and loves their work, I also attach a lot of my happiness and sense of identity to my work. So, as you can imagine, when I can’t be around other people, whether it be my friends or work colleagues and my business is impacted significantly by the effects of COVID-19, it’s challenging. These have been trying and testing times for many of us.

I was raised to strive towards financial independence and financial freedom and as a result, attach self-worth and identity to the very thing that helps me achieve that – my work. 

I’m not very good at sitting around doing nothing. It’s not that I can’t sit and be alone with my own thoughts or that I don’t enjoy my own company, it’s that I love being productive and busy and I love the feeling of accomplishment and achievement. 

So how do you cope when the world, for the greater good of humanity, asks you to sit at home? 

You have to find other ways to feel fulfilled and productive… Ways that traditionally haven’t been rewarded by a capitalist agenda.

There’s not one approach for everyone but for me, the following things have been working:

  • Staying connected virtually – Organising virtual drinks with friends and work colleagues over Facebook video chat, Zoom or House Party.
  • Cooking – I had it on my 2020 bucket list to become a great cook, this time has made that possible. I wouldn’t go so far as to say I’m auditioning for MasterChef but I’m far better off than pre-iso.
  • Offering help to others – Figure out what value you can add at a time like this to the people around you. For me, I realised that I can play a key part in keeping the work force moving so I can add tremendous value to people right now. Take the time to recognise what value you can add and then lend a helping hand.
  • Yoga – I’ve always struggled to meditate but this has been a great time to practice and has really helped me switch off my whirling thoughts and reconnect with my body. I’ve also started doing Yoga on FaceTime with friends. Namaste.
  • Resetting goals – If you’re in the same boat as me, your 2020 plans have been thrown out the window but take the time to reset and re-evaluate them. And don’t forget to be kind to yourself. 
  • Exercising – I’ve never exercised this much in my whole life. I have set goals around minimum km’s to walk or run each day and set weekly challenges for myself and my partner. This helps fuel my competitive side 😉
  • Personal development and learning – Watching webinars and speaking on live webinars where I can, listening to podcasts and reading. 
  • Puzzles – Lots of puzzles to fulfil my need for problem solving.
  • Ticking much procrastinated tasks off my ‘to do list’ – Finished our website and started writing for our new blog. 

We’re starting to see the light at the end of the tunnel now with restrictions starting to lift but there’s still a little way to go. Many of us are still forced to sit at home and relearn what our priorities are. Take the opportunity to discover who you really are and what you truly value. And remember to have fun along the way.