Is it inevitable that our self-identity becomes dependent on our professional identity? Why should this be and how does it come about?  Here are some thoughts:

Professional work provides status, identity and structure: some people are psychologically addicted to work because it gives them a status, identity and structure they can’t find elsewhere.

A profession provides you with a “safe” place in the worlda valued attribute, skill, or ability may  reassure us about who we actually are and where we stand in the wider world.”

A professional workplace provides you with social norms: an extended ‘apprenticeship’ period, ensures the professional internalises an extensive set of norms which over time becomes an integral part of their identity’.

Although your choice of career was perhaps simply a matching of certain aptitudes against tasks to be delivered, or even purely random or accidental - you were laying the foundation of your very identity, for your future self.

If you have doubts about this, take a look at your working peer group.  As yourself what values you have in common? what behaviours are expected? what ways of working are common amongst you? how do you dress? what jargon do you use? What is it exactly that make you "belong" in that group?

So, its no wonder that so many of us struggle to change direction in our working life.  Its not simply an issue of re-training and findng a different job, it's about re-discovering your true identity and creating a new place in the world.



Leave a Reply