One of the biggest traps you can fall into in your professional career is placing too much of your self worth on your performance and treatment within your office.
It was not that long ago that primarily men went to work – just to pay the bills in order to enjoy their ‘real’ life outside of the office. Over time, the demands of modern life have driven both men and women into very stressful and demanding roles which mentally can be very difficult to leave at work once you have retired for the day.
Modern technology also allows work to encroach on your personal life. The lines between home life and work life are often blurred as emails, instant messaging and Skype/Zoom make people accessible 24 hours per day from anywhere in the world.
As a result of the extended hours and pressures placed on you as a professional, it’s highly likely that you will draw a great deal of your self worth, confidence and drive from the validation you receive from work. However, herein lies the major problem. Everyone at work is feeling the same pressures and thus you have to just hope you have a good manager who has the time and energy to give you praise and recognition for a job well done.
It is for this reason that the best way to cope with the stress of everyday work-life is to not look for your self esteem or self worth through your job by separating yourself emotionally from work. It is also important to see it for its inherent value – as an exchange of goods, services and ideas for the betterment of society. Whilst it is a basic human need to feel self-actualized through the pursuit of excellence, in order to maintain a high self-esteem it is much more beneficial for you to seek your validation internally first and then from the people you love and trust most. We all want to be respected and to feel as though our work is valued, but the best way to judge this is by the outcome of your work, not on the amount of praise you receive. If you have a great manager, of course that helps, but if you treat this praise as a bonus, rather than a need, you will assess your self-confidence at work on the work itself, rather than on the amount of praise you received for a job well done. For instance, if you developed a new policy that your boss recognised you for, promoted and it made real change in the lives of others – this would show you what a great job you undertook on that policy. The work itself is praise enough to boost your self-worth.
Yes it is important to feel valued and respected at work, however widen your net. By all means seek constructive criticism and validation from your colleagues and from people you respect, however do not judge your self worth
against these potential validations. The sad fact about many modern day offices is that it is often not until an individual leaves that senior executives really learn how valuable they were to their organization. Thus, a paucity of praise is more likely to reflect an office culture than it is to be an indication of your intelligence or ability. If you happen to be a manager, take the time out to let your staff know what a great job they are doing and create a culture of respect and trust within your organisation. Be specific about the tasks well done and seek feedback on areas where you can improve as a manager aswell. As a staff member, ask for feedback on project outcomes and on how your work has been received (it’s impacts) and base your professional judgments on the evidence of a job well done.
Put work into perspective and regularly internally praise yourself for all the jobs you do brilliantly on a daily basis. After all, that little internal critic can at times be the harshest of all.