Relationships are important to us as humans. Belonging and having social connections create stability and purpose in our lives. Our physical and mental health depends on the strength of those social connections. Being a connected, social creature is in our DNA. We know there is safety among the pack. We grow and flourish when surrounded by love and support. We reach our biggest goals and most audacious dreams with others in our corner, cheering us on.
 
Many of us relate a large part of who we are with what we do. We do it at home, getting wrapped up with being a parent and a partner. We do this at work by defining ourselves by our sacrifices and accomplishments only.  The opposite happens, as well. Overwhelm and stress leak out into our lives at home when the tasks we do become personal. Work influences our emotions and behaviour.
 
It is why, as employees, we look for work cultures and environments which support us. We long to engage and connect at work and is one of the top reasons why we stay with the same employer.
 
We spend over 90,000 hours at our jobs so it only makes sense that we entwine who we are with what we do. Being connected doesn’t mean we are working 80-hour weeks or at the beck-and-call of our leaders 24/7.  I’m talking about a connection to our purpose.

We are more connected when:

1. we love our companies and our jobs when we are emotionally invested in our work (greatgame.com ).

2.  we feel we make a difference. When we make a personal contribution, and we are a part of something special, we enjoy our jobs more.

Our values and ideals become mirrored and entwined within the company’s values. It is a ton of emotional investment. So, what happens then when we no longer have one of our most connected relationships?
 
When you quit or leave a job, we are cast out of our pack and left to fend for ourselves. We are often severed from our largest social network and it is devastating.
 
In Canada, management career/occupations have a tenure, on average of 12.5 years (Statica.com). That’s a significant amount of time at a company; enough to build some pretty strong bonds.
 
Take a moment to think about how connected you are with your company and co-workers.

How do you identify with your company?

 

Do you own company clothing you wear when not at work?
Are there decals on the car you drive?
Maybe even the car you drive represents the company you work for. The food you eat? The coffee you drink? The technology you use?  
Even when we choose to leave a place of employment, we are often not prepared for the change ahead.
 
When I left my career at a not-for-profit organization, I left my family. Twenty-two years for the same company and with many of the same co-workers. I was deeply connected to the place where I grew up. It is where I built my career, my credibility and my authority. When I headed into the transportation industry, I was not prepared for what I left behind. My circle of influence shrunk, and my social connections severed. I went from being a well-equipped hiker to naked and afraid. I had to navigate a new industry, a new culture, new social structures and an environment without support. I took some pretty big hits to my confidence at first, and I started to realize how much of i was wrapped up in what I did.
 
This type of identity crisis is going to happen as it is in our DNA. So, instead of fighting our nature, let’s use our need for connection and safety to expand our roots. Let’s build a strong foundation so we don’t topple over when the hurricane winds come sweeping over us. Building a network of roots is how trees weather the storm and it is how you can stay attached to your identity.

 

Growing Strong Roots

Growing roots is invisible work at first, but the effects are lasting. Whether you are considering leaving your job or staying put, consider these tips to a strong foundation.

 

  1. Have other activities outside of the 4 main roles you play in your life. What are you doing that doesn’t involve your job or your family? Seriously.
  2. Keep work relationships at work. If you do have a social relationship with someone you work with, create healthy boundaries about work and non-work time.
  3. Expand your professional network to contain people outside your place of employment. Heck, even outside your industry. Build a strong network of like-minded individuals. This will not only expand your foundation and social circles but also expand your mind and your opportunities.

 

While expanding your foundation, think of who you are more than what you do.

When you start to notice it might be time for a pivot or a re-invention in your career, start setting yourself up for success by expanding your network so the change doesn’t feel so much like a loss and more like an evolution.

 

 

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This is a chance for us to connect and talk about what is really going on and what I can do.

It’s important to get started on the right foot so there are fewer missteps along the way. That is what a clarity call is all about, getting clarity! 

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