Beyond 9 to 5: Why My Career Doesn't Define Me

By Gigi Engle

When you're toiling away on that office grind, you can lose track of all the time you've spent working. But while achieving that next promotion and the respect of your coworkers is great, what does it really mean for your life as a whole?

One of my biggest fears is that I’ll wake up 10 years down the road and wonder where the last decade of my life went. I don't want to look back and feel like I wasted my potential.

I know many people feel this way. Our generation fears the monotony of a day job. We want more.

Life happens away from the bustle of your career. It's what you make it, and, in order to make the most of life, you have to go beyond the 9 to 5.

So, repeat after me: My career will never define me.

Because my side-hustle is what I'm truly passionate about.

Sure, I have my career, but that isn't what makes me tick. My career pays the bills, but my side projects give me life. I believe in having side projects so that I never stop creating.

Because you can't discover the world inside an office.

I value traveling and exploring exotic places. I think it’s important to learn about the world by throwing yourself headfirst into it. Don’t hesitate — just go for it. I don't want my views to be limited to what I’ve read or what other people have told me. I want to get out there and experience it.

Because I'm worth so much more than a paycheck.

My value far exceeds my salary. I don't equate my identity with the tasks I perform on a day-to-day basis. My worth comes from what I give back to the world, and I’m confident that I can make a real difference in whatever I do. My career will never be my everything.

Because working for someone else is not what I want to do forever.

When it comes down to it, I'm going to be my own boss one day. Working for other people is for now, not forever. I want to make my own way. I'm an independent person, not a drone. My career should, and will, evolve over time.

Because I know the next big adventure is just around the bend.

I can never stop dreaming. I will never stop believing in something greater, something new. I want to see it all, taste it all and live it all. I can't bring myself to think that my career, my office and this path are the only things out there. The best is yet to come.

Because validation comes from within, not from my career.

Your own approval is the only approval you need. If you have confidence, you can do anything. I know I'm awesome, and that is what matters.

Because the legacies we leave behind are our relationships, not our jobs.

What defines me are the connections I build with other people and the impact I have on the lives of others. No one will remember how many late nights you spent in the office or how many friends you ghosted because you were gunning for a promotion. At the end of the day, it's the people who love you who remember you.

Because the best parts of life don't happen from 9-5.

Those long days you spend working are not where living takes place. Life is about love, family and friendships, not bonuses, bosses and corporate matters. I derive value from being with the people I care about, and I'm fulfilled by the art I create and the relationships I forge. My career could never be enough for me.

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