The Consistent Coach Podcast

Pre-TCC: Who are you without your work?

July 03, 2020 Stacie Mitchell Episode 4
The Consistent Coach Podcast
Pre-TCC: Who are you without your work?
The Consistent Coach Podcast
Pre-TCC: Who are you without your work?
Jul 03, 2020 Episode 4
Stacie Mitchell

Do you find it hard to disconnect yourself and your identity from your work? Come listen and reflect on who you are without your work, and how to detach from your work in a healthy way.

Show Notes Transcript

Do you find it hard to disconnect yourself and your identity from your work? Come listen and reflect on who you are without your work, and how to detach from your work in a healthy way.

Hello lovely friends! It’s been such a great last few weeks. We’re settling into the new house, I’ve launched my group coaching program which is already half-way full and I’m so excited about. And while there’s been some trying circumstances through the last couple of weeks, I’m still feeling very optimistic about life and I’m looking forward to what’s next.

After working with numerous clients and helping them heal their burnout, I’ve found one commonality among every single client and it’s this -- an inability to disconnect themselves and their identity from their work. And let me say in the beginning that this work doesn’t have to be a job, it can be your own business, but it can also be your role as a mom or dad too, so keep that in mind as I’m talking today. I’m going to keep it focused on our jobs and businesses as our identities but know that this can show up in other ways too. 

My clients take great pride in their work, they label themselves by their work, they judge themselves on how well their life is going, mostly just by their work. Does their boss like them? Are they hitting it out of the park on projects? Were they promoted? Do they come across as competent?

Now you’re probably listening to me and thinking, “Well of course, how ELSE would they judge their success? Doesn’t everyone do that?” 

But no. Not everyone does. And the people who learn to disentangle their work from their actual real selves are way better off than those of us who never learn how.

This is why being laid off can be as stressful as a divorce or a death in the family - because it’s not just about the money you’re making, it’s about a loss of your sense of self. When you’ve spent over half of your life focused on professional success, when every social gathering starts with the question, “What do you do?” meaning -- what do you for WORK? -- it only seems logical that losing that would put you in the front seat of your own emotional rollercoaster.

But how do you disentangle your worth from your work? How do you maintain your passion for work and not see it as the end-all, be-all of who you are in the larger world? How do you give up the security of your titles, your industry and instead know who you are on a deeper level -- a level that no boss or client or nosy neighbor can ever touch

In a world where it feels like you are judged and ranked by what you do for work, how do you disconnect from that and find your value in something deeper?

There’s a paragraph in This Time I Dance -- a book by Tama Keeves,  a Harvard trained attorney who gave it all up to become a writer - where she talks about leaving her fancy shmancy attorney job to work at a cafe so she can pursue writing. The first time I read it I teared up. I’m going to read it here for you because I think it will really resonate:

“When I walked into the Paradise Cafe and learned how to garnish drinks and peddle appetizers, a reckless feeling hit me. I was not “on track.” Like never before in life, this time would not lead to a degree, a license, a bonus, or a bone. Now I could face myself instead of race ahead. I could explore and nurture my talents without having to sell them before their time. I now had time. I’d secured an adequate lifeboat, the kind of job that would carry me, but not tarry me with temptation or self-inflation. I would save my dearest cargo for my final destination.”

I want you all to reflect on that last line for a second: I would save my dearest cargo for my final destination.

Now Tama was talking about saving her cargo for her creative pursuit, but I want you to consider whether you’re saving your dearest cargo for what’s actually most important in your life. Maybe it’s your family or your health or your friends. Maybe it’s a secret passion you never really allow yourself to think about. 

For so many of us our work is so interwoven with who we are that it's hard to separate it from ourselves. We get so stressed at work because we see work as us -- but what if you could disentangle from it? What if you could enjoy it, do well at it, but also detach from it in a way that saves your dearest cargo for what’s actually important to you. I’m going to put out some mind-bendy questions - at least for some of you -, but I want you to grab a notebook and sit with these questions: 


Who would you be without your work? Without your accomplishments, or degrees, or titles?

If you had to tell someone about yourself, with as much detail as possible, but without ever mentioning work, what would you say? 

I know you’re probably wondering, but “HOW Stacie??” “How can I detach from something that is my identity?” But before we get to that, question it more -- is it really your identity? 

Do you want your tombstone to read: She sure did great at her job! Or “World’s Best Project Manager” or “Always the first to respond to emails!”

Really, truly, ask yourself! 

I’m about to drop a hard truth for some of you: Your identity as your work, as your job, as your career, is a bandaid. It’s a bandaid for the real legacy you want to leave on the world. And that legacy is bigger than sales numbers or performance bonuses or promotions or titles. It’s more important than how you look and how you’re perceived.

A good friend introduced me to the Cultivate What Matters yearly planner, which I absolutely love by the way, and one of the first exercises is to answer this question: “Where do you want to be when you’re 80?” and the point of that question is to get you to think about the big picture of your life. So many of us are so wrapped up in the stress and overwhelm of our daily lives that we never zoom out to make sure we’re creating the lives we really dream of living. 

We are so stuck on the stories of needing to be successful at work, on keeping the security we think we have by working our tails off, that we don’t stop and go, “This is JUST a job!” 

And I know some of you are like, but wait --- my job is my calling! It IS my legacy! Maybe you’re a coach like me or a counselor or you teach or you're a mom. And that may be part of your legacy, but I guarantee you that the stress and burnout you’re feeling means that you likely got sucked into the trap that the work you are doing is your ultimate value to the world and that just isn’t true. 

You are valuable to the world regardless of how good of a counselor or coach or teacher or a mom you are. You will make more of a difference in the world if you’re able to disconnect yourself from your work. If you can begin to set goals from a place of fun instead of a place of pressure. If you decide to see what’s possible instead of feeling stuck with what you have. If you can learn to care for your children, to serve your clients, without strapping all of their desires and failures and neediness to your back and carrying them with you, but instead - trusting in yourself and in the process, trusting in your skill, and knowing that you did your best.

Things started to shift the most for me when I started to see myself differently. Coaching is a calling for me, so I get it. I am a coach. But at one point I realized, there’s no taking it away from me. It doesn’t matter if I have clients, or a job title that says I’m a coach, I just am a coach. I don’t need a podcast or a blog or thousands of followers or a bestselling book. I just am a coach just as much as I am human. And when I took away any need for outside reinforcement, it got a lot of more fun. 

It also shifted in my job when I realized that the problems and stress I face in my job each day are usually incredibly insignificant to my overall life. I can’t remember the problems I was facing in my job 5 years ago. I’m sure I had stress, but I can’t really tell you what it was -- because it really wasn’t that important. 

I’ve found that my work is just one component of the very complex puzzle of who I am in the world. My legacy will be deeper than my business and than any job that I’ve ever had. It will be about more than making money or fancy titles. It will be about making a difference, but also about being present with the people I love.

How many of us are glued to our phones and incredibly responsive to our texts and emails and only really half-listen and half pay attention to our partners, our families, and our friends?

And for what?

I honestly think that if you want to live a life of incredible joy, all you really need to do is be present for it. And 99% of aren’t. There’s a quote one of my friends who is a health coach posted recently that I have to share. This is from Anthony DeMello, a Jesuit priest:

“Most people, even though they don't know it, are asleep. They're born asleep, they live asleep, they marry in their sleep, they breed children in their sleep, they die in their sleep without ever waking up.”

Gosh, isn’t that just the truth??

Most of us use work as a shield from enjoying our lives, from being present. We sacrifice our joy for what we think we have to do to find security, to be safe, to be GOOD.

But the real safety is in knowing who you are under the shield, and realizing that you have everything you need to feel safe and secure already.

I want to finish this with a story from The Dao of Pooh......

If you just heard that and want to know how to live in a different way, I’d love to have you joinmy new group coaching program spark+soul. It’s 8 weeks of coaching and coursework to heal your burnout, reconnect with your soul’s purpose, and reignite your spark. We start August 2nd. If you want to know more, head over to 

Until next time, bye friends!