From the very beginning of higher education, we are taught to find a job that we love, so that when we are working it doesn’t really feel like work. In fact, teenagers in America polled in a recent study feel that having a job they enjoy is more important than getting married.
Despite the popular belief that working in a field that aligns with your most passionate aspirations is ultra-important, there are some clear advantages in separating your work life from the activities that get your creative fire raging.
One of these advantages is being more resilient and not taking reviews of your performance to heart. If there is a high level of personal investment, both in productivity and personal investment in a cause, it makes it very difficult to face criticism without taking it harshly. The job becomes a source of self-validation and routine career events can be seen as a personal affront to self-worth. By finding a career that doesn’t put such a heavy emphasis on your ultimate reason for living, you can take these routine events as what they are: evaluations of your work, mistakes and all—and not a reflection of your failure/success and reason for living.
Also, if your job entails all the things that you would normally find stimulating and fulfilling outside of work, it will leave little room for anything extracurricular. Constructing a healthy and well-rounded life outside of work is vital for reducing stress and maintaining a higher quality of life. Americans are some of the world’s hardest workers, and they have the least extracurricular activities. A few reasons for this include the competitiveness of the American image, job insecurities, and a reluctance to be seen engaged in anything that is unproductive in the financial or educational sense.
Researchers also believe that it makes it extremely difficult to turn off and unplug from your career if you live and breathe for it. It’s nearly impossible not to “bring your job home” if you are completely enmeshed with your career. It has also become commonplace in society to take working vacations and to always be on call even on your personal cell phone, among many other blurred lines between work life and personal life.
Connecting with activities and people outside your normal working environment will actually benefit your career in the long time. It can sharpen social skills, expand networks, and inspire you to pursue different goals or even different careers. It’s not easy to get out of our heads, off our screens, and out in the real world, but you really owe it to yourself to disconnect from the ideal image of a modern career person. Following your heart in a career doesn’t have to mean that you give all of it away.
- Horowitz, Juliana Menasce, and Nikki Graf. “Most U.S. Teens See Anxiety and Depression as a Major Problem Among Their Peers.” Pew Research Center, https://www.pewsocialtrends.org/2019/02/20/most-u-s-teens-see-anxiety-and-depression-as-a-major-problem-among-their-peers/#fn-25890-1.