you are the secret formula

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I seem to have made a habit of leaving good jobs.

The first good job I left was 15+ years ago. It was my first job out of college, and it had taught me everything I knew about business in the real world. One of my then-colleagues, a member of the group I’d secretly dubbed my SOWs (Successful Older Women), pulled me aside a few days before my exit and gave me a good word: ‘This place didn’t make you who you are.’

It was perhaps the best parting gift I could have received.

Jobs take up a huge part of our lives. When people ask who we are, we often respond with an answer that describes what we do to make money. It is very easy, then, to begin to associate your worth, value, degree of success, your you-ness with the job you have. Especially when others around you continually re-affirm that by saying things like,

About your decision to leave: “Why would you ever leave that good job?”

About your working a non-traditional job or freelancing: “You’re not working a real job now, so you must have tons of free time.”

About your side project or self-imposed time off: “That sounds great, but when are you going to get back to work?”

For some, having a job that defines them is a perfectly acceptable state of affairs. But, if you have a worry or growing fear that you’ve lost yourself in your job and want to change that, ask yourself these questions to start:

  • What are you doing for yourself outside of what’s required for your job to help you learn, grow, and be of service to those around you?

  • How are you investing in yourself in ways that are not solely tied to how you can be a better worker or employee?

  • What personal goals and desires are you postponing because they interfere or conflict with your job?

  • What other social circles or communities do you belong to that represent who you are and offer a place for you to contribute?

The work of understanding yourself, defining yourself for yourself and finding ways to express yourself and improve upon how you engage with the world is continual. It’s this work that has helped me realize both my innate value and my very specific uniqueness. Armed with this self-awareness, I’m less hesitant to leave a so-called good job, and less receptive to questions from those who question why I would.

Once you make the commitment to work on yourself as your primary work… you come to realize 2 very important facts:

  1. No job or title can give or take away the value you bring to the table.

  2. You. Are the secret formula.