No matter the social setting — whether it’s a date or a networking event — if someone asks you the question: “What do you do?” or “Tell me about yourself?”, the socially acceptable and automatic answer is usually a job title.
This answer is very telling. We tend to tie our entire lives to our professions (even outside of the professional world). Our jobs or businesses often become the centerpiece of our entire identity, self-worth, and purpose.
When society repeatedly tells you that you are your job (and constantly asks you about it) you tend to believe that it’s all that matters. The trap here is that you can limit yourself to new possibilities and stay inside your comfort zone with this thinking.
The problem with solely tying yourself to your job
It’s like you have blinders on that block the outside world, and you can only see that next promotion or new product launch as the key to your fulfillment. According to Psychology Today, this affliction is known as “work-role centrality”, and it increases your likelihood of depression and anxiety — and can make you feel like you have less purpose in your life.
Focusing your entire life on your job can also lead to burnout, which The World Health Organization has officially recognized as an “occupational phenomenon” — and ultimately will place you further from those very goals you’re grinding to achieve.
Furthermore, many top leaders make the mistake of chasing job titles and prestige, which keeps them inside their comfort zones and often entails sacrificing their true dreams.
How to take off your blinders and embrace your whole self
My self-imposed blinders were ripped off when I was told I had a terminal disease and that it was game over. At that moment I realized I had become my work — and in doing so I had completely missed life. I was grief-stricken in this realization.
Growing up thinking I had to prove myself to be loved drove me to become a super-achiever but the truth found at this moment struck me like a lightning bolt. Achieving is not the path to fulfillment. I made the decision that if I was going to die, I was going to die happy and fulfilled.
By all means, I’d achieved society’s measures of success. And I could certainly keep up a vibrant conversation about it at cocktail parties. But I’d been so caught up in the race to the top that I’d never opened my mind up to what would truly make me feel fulfilled.
When I started listening to my gut, rather than staying inside my comfort zone, I snapped out of autopilot and started living my life rather than trying to survive it. Thus began the journey towards creating Vista Caballo.
You don’t have to face your own mortality or open up a 160-acre horse ranch to help others transform as I did. Here are five simple steps to transform your life from surviving off of a job title to achieving personal fulfillment:
● Know your personal purpose. If you didn’t have to earn a living what would you do, and why? Your purpose is not a job title, and as a leader, it goes beyond KPIs. It’s the North Star of your life. Make every decision with your purpose as the lens. Don’t let any excuse stand in your way. Challenge yourself.
● Once you’ve identified that purpose, you can focus on living your life, instead of just surviving it. Step number two: live life on purpose. This is a key difference. Give everything you do your full undivided attention. Instead of leading until your well runs dry or working on short-term goals, you’re developing your ability to be present and opening up your mental, emotional, spiritual lens to the holistic picture. You’re looking at the bigger possibilities and sensing opportunities for transformation.
● Give up immediate gratification and develop patience. Stay focused on your North Star. When we have our job blinders on, we’re always focused on that next goal. It gives us a rush, almost like we’re beating a level in a video game. Adrenaline is addictive; time to detox.
● Practice balance. Every athlete knows that rest is part of the workout, and even Olympians take a break. Your work can add meaning to your life, but it should not be your whole life’s meaning. Purpose is different than work and it includes rest and rejuvenation periods. Ten minutes of being mindful and present can make a world of difference. Choose one day and go completely offline. Failing to have some form of conscious rest during the day can impact your balance and feelings of fulfillment.
● Don’t rely on your job for your self-worth. Instead, you need to adopt a new mindset and make personal fulfillment a habit. This can start with a few minutes a day — whether that’s chunking out time to spend time with family, or getting more sleep so you can be a more effective leader. Pick something now that you can commit to doing to develop your personal fulfillment. Humans are habitual and adaptive, so set your North Star, reset your mindset and just get started.
Reframe your thinking; revamp your life
As Steve Jobs aptly said, “The people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world are the ones who do. Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life. Don’t be trapped by dogma — which is living with the results of other people’s thinking. Don’t let the noise of others’ opinions drown out your own inner voice.”
Unstoppable leaders find a North Star that guides them, and this starts by divesting themselves of societal pressures and taking off the blinders.
Your North Star doesn’t have to be audacious (at least to start). It can be as simple as wanting to have a life full of creativity or curiosity. Once you’ve identified it, you can unleash the transformative power that’s been lying dormant within you.
Billion-dollar companies aren’t created by those who chase the rat race to the top. They’re formed by unstoppable leaders who are emboldened to change the world.
Thankfully, when I started living life fully, the disease vanished. I’m grateful that I’m as healthy as the horses I live with and love to this day. Facing death allowed me to truly focus on experiencing life. It made me realize that regardless of where you’re at in your life, it’s never too late to start living the life you were meant to live.
Want you to learn more about becoming an unstoppable leader? Visit my blog and explore The StillPoint Experience — an interactive digital experience that shows you how to lead the life you were meant to live.