Does My Job Define Me?
A perspective from Kristine Odaiyar, Account Executive at Advantage – a sponsorship and brand experience agency.
According to a research study conducted by Gettysburg College, the average person spends 90,000 hours at work in their lifetime. Crazy, right? To try and put this number in perspective let’s think about how much a person sleeps on average. Say throughout a person’s lifetime from infancy to adulthood they average 8 hours of sleep a night. Life expectancy is now roughly 71-72 years, and about a third of that time is spent sleeping. That amount equates to just under 8,700 days or 209,000 hours. In the average person’s lifetime they spend roughly 209,000 hours sleeping and a little less than half of that time they spend at the office.
Over the past 25+ years, hundreds of articles have been published, dozens of case studies presented all arguing that at the end of the day your job does not make up who you are as a person. Maya Angelou, famous author, actress, and civil rights activist said, “I’ve learned that making a ‘living’ is not the same thing as making a ‘life.’” My argument is that with as much time that is dedicated toward a person’s occupation, how can it not be a critical part of who you are as a person?
Though many may argue that your job does not define who you are as a person, I do believe that with the amount of hours willingly offered to one’s own profession that there has to be some sort of direct correlation between a person’s job and their character, interests, and personality. To me, your career isn’t just about working the standard 9-5 job and getting a paycheck. It’s about constantly being challenged, learning new things, building relationships, collaborating, and at the end of the day truly loving what you do.
Forbes published an article back in 2012 discussing the rarity of a person actually loving their job and the importance in truly enjoying what you do for a living. The article goes on to discuss how people’s hatred for their job has actually been one of the main reasons behind a country’s economic downturns. Albert Schweitzer, a past humanitarian and philosopher states, “Success is not the key to happiness. Happiness is the key to success. If you love what you are doing, you will be successful.”
I love the way Schweitzer describes success and happiness but I still think that there is a good amount of give and take with his statement. Yes, I believe that loving what you do will lead to success and in time increased wealth. But increased income does not always guarantee happiness, what it does grant you is peace of mind.
I believe that there is something very liberating in being passionate about your work. It frees you from the everyday demand and expectations that are commonly set on people. I find myself fortunate that through a career in events and sponsorship, I’m able to drive impactful engagements for consumers and brands in this ever evolving industry. Every day I am faced with new tasks that allow me to learn and develop new skills, cultivate and sustain relationships, and gain better insight into the marketing industry as a whole. Each day I am presented with the unique opportunity to take a client’s vision and bring it to life.
I will admit that no job position is enjoyable 100% of the time. There will be stressful moments and tight deadlines. But I do think there is something about a person’s occupation that grants them a sense of purpose. The job itself highlights a person’s talents and gifts. It provides transparency into who that person is, how they handle certain situations, deadlines, and so on. I do not think that your job defines you entirely, but I would like to think of it as a critical piece in a constantly changing jigsaw puzzle.