Work does not define us

Who I am
Joe Dispenza
@joedispenza
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wikipedia.org

Work does not define us

We are much more than the work we do every day. Letting our occupation define us can limit us and dilute our true potential and inner greatness.

Last update: 24 March, 2022

The work does not define us, yet in many cases it is our cover letter. Let's think about it for a moment. When someone asks us "How would you define yourself?", It is common to start by saying your name and then your occupation. But the truth is, we are much more than our current job.



The human being is so complex, variable, fickle, dynamic and constantly growing that resorting to terms or labels is like putting limits on one's essence. Obviously there will be those who feel defined almost exclusively by their occupation, because it is rewarding and fulfilling.

However, we are all much more than that work that we do on average 40 hours a week. We are beings who dream, creatures who love, who read, who are enchanted in looking at the sky, who love to walk, who set goals on the horizon, who often fight in silence… We are this and much more.

Because work does not define us

Society instills in us the need to be "someone". In fact, many of us have been taught from childhood the idea that in the future we should be "someone", as if the mere fact of being and existing were not enough.

We live in a world where labels are everything, and this sometimes imposes on us unrewarding dynamics. Work is the status you acquire in society, but the truth is that the labor market is more volatile and uncertain than ever.


It follows that our identity is also affected by this characteristic, a subject that has been studied for a long time by the field of psychology. Science has long been investigating the relationship between work and self-vision.


The study conducted by the University of Western Australia shows that people tend to build their identity on the basis of the work done. However, this is mediated by some interesting factors.

We classify to understand (presumably) the other

Work does not define us, yet we continue to use it not only to define ourselves, but also to understand others. In this way, if a person tells us that he is the creative director of a marketing company, we will assume that he is creative, open, dynamic, original and even fun.

Yet even our baker can have these and many other qualities. And you can even go further, maybe that creative director loses or leaves his job and then goes to work in a supermarket or the cop.

This shows us that the mind uses shortcuts to label people and be able to deal with them based on these often ill-conceived ideas. With this resource we attribute to the other not only certain qualities, but also a certain way of thinking.

The idea that work should satisfy us

Many of us continue to nurture the idea that we need to find work to help us fulfill ourselves. Few beliefs cause so much suffering.

You can have your dream job, even though conditions may not be optimal; we fail to pay the rent, stress levels are high, or over time we find that it is not for us.


When we discover that work, far from satisfying us, is exhausting us, it is common to experience a personal crisis.

We have to be "someone" to earn a living

We all have an idea: the need to be "someone" to earn a living. In this way, we believe that those who do not study will be nobody tomorrow. On the other hand, those who are more educated are more likely to become "someone" in the future.


It must be said that university is no longer the secret of success. The securities held do not necessarily meet our expectations.


Therefore, there is no lack of those who think they are worthless. But let's think about it: are we worth less because we don't have our dream job? Are we less deserving if we are unemployed? The answer is no.

Work does not define us

We work to live, but a job doesn't have to be our life. Work does not define us, nor do the clothes we wear or the habit of drinking coffee or tea in the morning.

We are much more than what we do every day, because maybe next week we won't; even so, we will continue to be the same. Unique, exceptional and wonderful.

To remember every day why work does not define us, it is worth bearing in mind the following dimensions:

  • Work does not shape identity. Your identity is determined by the way we treat friends, partner and family.
  • The activities we carry out in our work represent only a part of our daily life.
  • The career or position we occupy in a company does not say who we are. Life changes and suddenly we could play another role.

Last but not least, none is the salary that comes at the end of the month. It is true that we need it to live, but that figure does not say at all who we are.


In that monthly income, there are no passions, benefits, goals, memories, hopes or desires. We are too complex to be represented by such labels.

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