On average an adult, full-time professional spends 2,000 hours each year working*. That’s roughly eight hours a day, 40 hours a week and 166 hours per month. During the in and out of office (whatever the “office” may be) time spent sending emails, answering calls and meeting pressing deadlines, every employee gives a piece of themselves to their job.

In the many hours, days, weeks and months dedicated to seeing a project come to fruition, assuming a title or career as one’s identity can become second nature. Whether or not one has pride in their LinkedIn headline, company or career trajectory, the more time spent (or not spent) in a position, the easier it becomes to allow it to define them.

While each person has innate interests and passions that should be pursued, put to practice and honed, it’s important for professionals not to confuse who they are as human beings for the career badge worn in a 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. role. No matter how big or small the paycheck, whether granted the ability to make company-wide decisions or not given the authority to purchase paper clips for the employer’s supply cabinet, always remember this: You are not your job title.

 … it’s important for professionals not to confuse who they are as human beings for the career badge worn in a 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. role.

Though one may be wildly good in their role — their career may even be the reason they’re well-known in an industry — it’s important to be mindful of labels according to personal success in the work field. Hinging identity on a job title is as risky as placing happiness on the stock market; it isn’t constant, it fluctuates, and it isn’t sustainable.

If you resonate at all as an employee who finds personal identity in a profession, remind yourself that you are a daughter, a friend and a woman full of talents, dreams and goals and any job, great or fulfilling as it may be, is not  what defines you. Your job might fill a few empty puzzle pieces that make you into a whole picture, but the pieces are only a small fraction of the parts of your life that make you uniquely you.

Instead of turning to your career for security, hope, purpose and identity, frequently ask yourself in each season of life: Regardless of my title, and if I didn’t work in this specific job, would I still be joyful and thankful for being who I am?  With it being the time for New Year’s resolutions, now might be a good time to think and reflect on where your identity is stemming from and reorient it if it’s anchored in your career. Maya Angelou said of identity: “I would like to be known as an intelligent woman, a courageous woman, a loving woman, a woman who teaches by being.”

*8 hours/day x 5 days/week x 50 working weeks/year (2 weeks are counted as vacation) = 2,000 hours.

Is placing identity in career a struggle for you? What is one way you can release that this year?

Image via Madi Ellis


  1. When I began my first full-time job last year, I struggled quite a bit with not allowing my identity to become my job, which at the time was as you would expect an entry-level position – hardly the wholly satisfying expectation I had put upon it. But from these struggles, I did learn exactly what this post says: I am NOT my job. Hard lesson, but an important truth nonetheless.

  2. As a business owner working from a home office, it feels impossible not to tie in my identity with my career. I know that I tend to work too many hours, but working in a creative field feels like being myself for a living. I appreciate this article for reminding me that I have other things in my life that contribute to my identity.

  3. While I do think it’s important to know your identity regardless of your job, I would have to disagree with this thinking. John Mark Comer has done a whole series about how our identity is tied in with our work/what we do (Garden City podcasts are awesome!). Since so much of our time is spent working, I think it’s impossible for our identity to not be related to that even in the smallest of ways. So yes, you’re totally right that our worth is not tied in to our job title. But our identity is influenced by what we spend the majority of our time doing. Just some thoughts!


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