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I was lucky enough to be able to go to my niece’s first birthday this past weekend. Flying out to Kansas, I was a bit nervous about the visit ahead of me. Have I mentioned I have a BIG family? And with numbers comes… issues, complaints, gripes, squabbles, and a whole lot of personality. I was stewing a bit over the lack of “support” I have been feeling from the crew – they didn’t buy my books, they aren’t sending clients my way, they don’t read my blog or like my posts on Facebook, and so on. A whole lot of petty complaints that all stem from not really “getting” what I do for work these days.

I arrived with a gift for my niece, but also paperback copies of my first book for my siblings. And guess what – they cared! They loved the book, were excited for me and they are supportive. And as the weekend went on, I realized that they were not being unsupportive, but that they know who I am fully – outside of what I do. And that my “job” was just that to them – a piece of who I am, not the part that really matters. They aren’t going to remember me for the books I wrote or how many people I coached, but who I am outside of work.

Career is Just a Puzzle Piece, Not the Design

They were proud that I wrote a book, but only because they knew that it was something I had been dreaming of for ages. They are excited that I get to coach others because they know how passionate I am about it. But at the end of the day, they could honestly give a hoot about how I spend my time. They care about ME, not my JOB.

When I worked in a traditional job, I’m sure their level of interest in my career was exactly the same – they had some idea what I did or where I worked, but they were not nearly as invested in my career as I was. Now that I’m an entrepreneur, I changed the game and expectations. My own perspective of how much of my life has become “work” has greatly influenced how I think my family should interact with me – crazy, right? But it’s a great reminder – you are NOT what you do, it’s only a part of you.

It’s the same message that I heard in late October when listening to a very wise man speak about what really matters in the world – these five things (more on these in the upcoming weeks):

  1. Critical thinking
  2. Making your mark in the world
  3. Love
  4. Acceptance
  5. Letting Go

Big ideas, but when you boil them all down, no where do you see, “my job,” or “how much money I make,” or “how many people I manage,” or my personal favorite, “my title.” These are all components of how we spend our time, but they are not reflective moments to create our overall success in life or how we “should” be spending our time on Earth.

This doesn’t mean that work or our careers aren’t important – they are. But they are only a piece of your life, they are not supposed to be the only part of your life. Your family and friends love you for YOU, not your paycheck, your status, or your accomplishments. Remember that when you are frustrated at work or feeling down about you current career status. It is not truly important, and it weighs little value to those who truly care for you. Your career is a part of the puzzle, not the entire design.

And with that in mind, I want to ask you all to take some time to reflect on how your career fits into your world, and are you valuing it where it “should” be? I want to hear from you how you keep it in check and if you have had a revelation recently that helps you stay on track.

P.S. – My niece’s birthday was AWESOME. Who knew that Elmo was so awesome? And guess what? My family DID tell their friends about what I was doing – I can’t even count how many times I was asked about my book and my blog from their local friends. It just happened without me even knowing it – how great is that?

Join the discussion 3 Comments

  • Lee Thrash says:

    I think this is exactly why I felt I should read your book; because when I’m having a hard time, I place way more value on my career (slash job) than is necessary. At those times, it feels like everything wrong with my life is because of my job, and that the ONLY way anything can change is for me to get OUT of it. But then I also have better days, where my job is just what I do from 8 to 5, and I am able to remember that — it’s a way to pay the bills, it’s fine — so I go back and forth.

    I’m glad your family and their friends were supportive after all! 🙂 

  • Krcrocker says:

    Well said Melissa! I enjoyed reading your article.

  • Melissa says:

    My boyfriend and I struggle with this on probably a daily basis. He hates his job and hates it so much that he can’t leave it there. Me, on the other hand, work for a great company, but don’t necessarily feel like I’m where I’m supposed to be. Although, “career is just a puzzle piece” I feel like its a big one. Spending 40+ hours of your life per week that doesn’t fulfill and have to do with “what really matters in the world” feels like a waste. I have some passions, but do not feel strongly enough or confident enough to go in a new direction. We have this feeling of being stuck/lost. It’s awful. Granted I try to be optimistic and realize that there are much worse problems in the world. It’s hard for us to be okay with only having 2 days a week for ourselves and 5 for someone else. If only I could figure out to make becoming an entrepreneur a reality. That’s my goal. I’m happy to hear that people like you have figured out how to make it work. Congrats!