Why It’s Counter Productive to Take Our Work Personally

Why It’s Counter Productive to Take Our Work Personally

Many current contemporary sentiments encourage us to take our work personally.

By being told to follow our passions and to do what we love, we easily misunderstand this as ‘find validation in your work’ or ‘place all of your self worth in your work’. I admit that I do this. I put so much of my worth in my work that when I fail, I’m hit hard.

Things aren’t progressing fast enough. We didn’t get that promotion, or didn’t close that client. We launched a product and it didn’t do well. We start to feel stressed, apprehensive and ask ourselves questions like “Why am I not deserving of this? Why is this happening to me?”

When times are difficult, we start to feel miserable.

In this situation, remove yourself from your work. Remove the self attached to how the work’s validation is boosting you.

I believe we should never call our projects our babies. By doing so, we’re holding ourselves back from being able to criticize them objectively.

Focus simply on the work at hand. Meditate in its meaning, and exactly what good it is giving to the world.

What problem are you fixing? Who’s lives are you actively improving?

Instead of looking inward, look out.

There is absolutely no need nor benefit for you to be personally ultra-attached to your work. Your work’s effect on others remains the same regardless of your own attachment, which doesn’t effect is as much as you think.

“But Jen,” you may argue. “When you write about such personal, vulnerable stories, how are you not emotionally invested?”

Sharing personal accounts and being emotionally invested are not mutually exclusive. Being emotionally invested in my writing means I look to you to give me validation for it. It means if you give me negative criticism, I’m stung by it. I may not feel like writing again tomorrow. Seeing your work with less emotional investment means my ego has been lowered enough to digest your criticism and apply its validity into improving my work.

100% of the time, my work improves from doing this.

Withdrawing your emotional investment in your work means you’re able to see your work objectively and critically, eliminating as much bias as you can so that it can ultimately progress in its quality.

Next time you start to feel crippled by your work, ask yourself these three questions:

1. How is this work benefiting this client? Write down specific, tangible ways in which it does.

2. Why is this work important? What larger problem is it actively fixing?

3. Is my level of attachment to this work actively increasing its quality? 

Jenny Gao

Founder of Other Worldly—Creative Entrepreneurship for Free Spirited Millennials

Jen is the latte-obsessed founder of Other Worldly, where she teaches millennials how to start creative businesses that they care about and live fulfilling lives. A bit of a creative 'jack of all trades', she uses the medium of photography and writing to create mindful stories about her experiences as a traveler and creative, making a point to showcase both the real bits too, not just the highlight reel!

No Comments Yet

Comments are closed