Reclaiming Your Identity: The shift from overload to purpose

Mar 28, 2024

The grind culture has many leaders believing that their value is measured by their workload and accomplishments. This mindset leads to a common scenario where personal identities are swallowed up by professional personas, creating an imbalance that affects not only personal well-being but also professional effectiveness.

Finding Yourself Again: The Leader’s Guide to Life Beyond the Office

It’s super easy to get so caught up in hitting targets and ticking off tasks that you start to forget who you are outside of your job. That’s something a lot of us talk about on The High-Performance Leader Podcast. You spend so much time being “the boss” or “the go-to person” that one day you wake up and realise you’re not sure who you are when you’re not at work. So, let’s take a walk through what it means to get back to being you, not just the boss you.

When Work Takes Over

You know how it goes. You push harder, do more, stay later, all to prove you’ve got what it takes. But then, doing more starts to feel like you’re just spinning your wheels, not really getting anywhere, especially not closer to the results, rewards and recognition you can enjoy when you clock out. It’s like your job is your whole identity, and that’s a risky place to be. What happens to you if that job isn’t there anymore? I have met many leaders who have been made redundant in their careers and one of the things that is most bruising for many is that they equated their self worth, with their job title. 

Why We Get Stuck

A lot of this comes from the world telling us that our worth is all about that job title and how much you can do. It’s like if you’re not knocking it out of the park at work 24/7, you’re falling behind. Plus, there’s this voice in our heads saying we’ve got to be the superhero who can do it all. But here’s the thing: believing you have to carry everything on your shoulders is the quickest road to feeling lost and burned out. Believe me - I know from personal experience. 

What’s Really Important

Getting back to you starts with figuring out what makes you tick—what you’re really about. And it’s probably not your job title. It’s about asking, “What do I love? What gets me out of bed in the morning besides my alarm clock?” That’s your purpose. It’s not about the paycheck; it’s about what makes you happy and fulfilled, whether that’s spending time with family, picking up that old guitar again, or getting out into nature.

Getting Back on Track

  1. Take Time to Think: Spend some quality time with yourself to really dig into what you love and what you value. It might feel weird at first, but it’s worth it.
  2. Draw the Line: Work is work, and life is life. Make sure you’re setting boundaries so that work doesn’t invade every part of your day. That might mean turning off your work phone after dinner or not checking emails the second you wake up. Interestingly to science shows that this makes you MORE productive than less. 
  3. Learn to Let Go: You don’t have to do everything yourself. Trust your team. Delegating isn’t about dumping tasks you don’t like; it’s about giving others the chance to step up and shine.
  4. Do What You Love: Make time for the things you love outside of work. Rediscover old hobbies or find new ones. This is what helps remind you of who you are beyond your job.

Everything I have shared here isn’t about shirking responsibilities or not caring about your job. It’s about finding a balance where you can be awesome at your job and still have a life and an identity outside of it. It’s about remembering that you’re a person first and a leader second. We call it "preparing to perform" an you can learn a lot more about it in Chapter 5 of Beat Burnout, Ignite Performance - plus a heap of other ideas. 

Getting there isn’t a race. It’s okay to take it one step at a time. The goal is to make sure that when someone asks you who you are, you’ve got an answer that’s all about you, not just what you do for a living.

Your Mission, Should You Choose to Accept It

So, here’s the challenge: Start today. Take one small step towards finding that balance. Maybe it’s as simple as leaving work on time or spending an evening doing something you love. Whatever it is, make it about reconnecting with the parts of you that got buried under all those deadlines and meetings.

It’s time to remember that being a great leader isn’t just about leading others; it’s about leading yourself to a happier, more balanced life.


If you enjoyed this blog, here are a few ways we can connect:

  1. Want personal results in one hour? Book a Breakthrough Strategy Session
  2. Read my latest book - Beat Burnout click here
  3. Listen to the High-Performance Leader Podcast - click here
  4. Read our blogs - click here
  5. Learn more about Ways of Working, click here

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