One of the best pieces of career advice I’ve ever gotten was to think of jobs as verbs, rather than nouns. So, for example: I do journalism, rather than I’m a journalist. Or: I do youth education, rather than I’m a teacher.
Yes, it feels like a silly, arbitrary little word swap, and you’d never actually say that at a party. (Imagine how weird you’d come off telling someone, “I cut people open,” rather than, “I’m a surgeon.”) But it is a mental shift that can help to disentangle who you are as a person from how you spend your days to make money for rent and groceries.
That balance is difficult to strike even in normal times. But now the home has become the office for millions of Americans, and working hours bleed into personal hours in ways that, a year into the pandemic, many of us are still struggling with. So it’s more important than ever not to tie your entire identity — and, in particular, your life satisfaction — to the thing you do for money, experts said.
“Work life, generally speaking, you ride a roller coaster,” said Art Markman, a professor of psychology and marketing at the University of Texas at Austin, and the author of the book “Bring Your Brain to Work.” “Not every day is a good day, there are projects you work on that don’t always go well, and if you’re doing anything interesting that has to be the case.”