Weeks ago, I experienced unpleasant but interesting feeling as part of my career journey so far. I felt that I lost my identity – broken the trust and respects I gained, disappointing many people – and heavily stressed because of that. However, above all – I learned a lot and hopefully this experience could fuel my next career journey.
I never thought that losing your identity could lead to a severe stress. I learned that identity is perceived as “central for issues of meaning and motivation, commitment, loyalty, logics of action and decision-making, stability and change, leadership, group and intergroup relations, and organizational collaborations” (Sveningsson & Alvesson, 2003).
Identity is addressed on multiple levels: organizational, professional, social, and individual. In many situations, however, one might need linked identity levels (e.g. organizational and social) to construct her/his desired identity. The construction process usually forced into a tendency of two extremes: fixed and stable or fluid/movement. The good news is, we don’t have to choose between those two (Dunne, 1996 in Sveningsson & Alvesson, 2003) – as to my opinion, identity might be stable in one period of life – and need to be fluid/changed in other periods of life.
In my case, I might be in the period of (identities) movement – which led me to feel that I was losing them and needed to reconstruct into something new. I might need to say this: those things probably only in my mind as some friends said that I actually did okay. Nevertheless, sometimes it matters of what we really think and feel that need to be fixed, not merely what others said about us.
The process of (identity) movement that I experienced brought such pressure and stress, which I must admit that I couldn’t able to handle it ‘in professional way’ on that period. This led to another discovery of myself: how I needed to improve my skills in managing my own stress in workplace (caused by any factors).
Here are things I learned from this experience:
- In re-constructing our identities; we might need to step back from current ambitions and to reflect on what we really feel about ourselves and what do we want to do. Some meditations and ‘me-time’ would help to rethink our identities.
- The way we challenged ourselves should be SMART (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, and Time-bound). Challenged ourselves too hard would only lead to unnecessary pressure.
- We need to make sure that our career journey is accompanied by aligned goals and philosophies (between you and the organization), clear information of resources, and importantly supportive leaders.
- It is also essential to be relaxed in achieving what we aspire, as this will help us to manage our own stress easier.
- Be alerted on our own mental health, and weight our thoughts on things by thinking, re-thinking, and un-thinking, to manage our stress.
Ref: Sveningsson, S., and Alvesson, M. 2003. Managing managerial identities: Organizational fragmentation, discourse and identity struggle. Human Relations, Volume 56(10): 1163–1193: 039823