When you become your career

According to the Harvard Business Review (HBR), many people with high-pressure jobs find themselves unhappy with their careers, despite working hard their whole lives to get to their current position. What happens if you identify so closely with your work that hating your job means hating yourself?

Psychologists use the term “enmeshment” to describe a situation where the boundaries between people become blurred, and individual identities lose importance. Enmeshment prevents the development of a stable, independent sense of self. You can become enmeshed with your career, too.

The work culture in many high-pressure fields often rewards working longer hours with raises, prestige, and promotions. Also, certain careers or career achievements are often highly valued in an individual’s family or community. When high pressure jobs are paired with a big paycheck, individuals can find themselves launched into a new socioeconomic class.

So what can you do to fight enmeshment? Delegate tasks at work to free up time, and fill that time with non-work related activities. Also, for your new activities outside of work, start small and try out some hobbies you have had your eye on. Reach out to friends and family to revitalize your social circles. Finally, decide what’s important to you. Establish and review your principles and values.

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