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Building an independent identity separate from your job

Inevitably, there comes a time in formal employment when you cease working in the office, whether by choice or circumstance.

Retirement, retrenchment, or a change in career trajectory can all lead to the dissolution of our professional identity, leaving us to grapple with a sense of loss and uncertainty.

When this transition occurs, your job-related identity dissipates. You may no longer hold that title except as a former boss/staff. This loss may entail a decline in your social network, including friends who were tied to you through your job title. Yet, amidst this transitional phase, lies an opportunity for personal growth and resilience — a chance to build an independent identity separate from the confines of our job titles.

The primary impact of the job loss or retirement is felt by your family - your spouse and children. Hence, it’s essential to ponder: “What comes next after leaving formal employment?” Begin planning for your future endeavours that will sustain both you and your family. Identify activities you can proficiently engage in outside formal employment.

Consider where your acquaintances will seek you out and where you can continue offering your services. If consultancy or any company is viable for you, establish it now and promote it among your contacts. Utilize your existing network to publicize your forthcoming identity, which will prove invaluable in the future.

Don’t postpone planning until the last minute or until you’re already out of work. Contacts in your network tied to your current job might easily lose touch, yet these could be the very individuals crucial to your independent ventures, consultancy, company, or organization. This is a move that proves invaluable in garnering support and clientele down the line.

Treat everyone you encounter with respect. Individuals seemingly insignificant now might become your foremost allies later. Share your vision and mission, and make known your side projects or personal services outside your corporate role.

Cultivate your personal brand now for easy recognition later. Leverage your current position to gradually market it. The only challenge might arise if you’re building a brand too similar to your current one, which could lead to conflicts with your employer. However, if it is slightly different and does not conflict with your current job, feel free to share it. It poses no harm.

Nevertheless, remember to honour your commitment to your current employer, as outlined in your contract. Whether governmental or private, you have obligations specified in your appointment letter. Neglecting your job duties due to your independent pursuits could exacerbate your problems.

Involve your family in shaping your identity. They will carry on your legacy when you are unable to manage it, or even collaborate with you presently or provide counsel. After all, your endeavours are for their benefit, making them primary stakeholders.

Though they may not fully comprehend your activities now, deliberate mentorship will foster their understanding, benefiting you in the long run. Don’t face any challenges alone when you have a family. As the saying goes, “home is where the heart is.”

These are the individuals who will embrace you first during any life changes. Therefore, include them in every step. Enhance their skills and understanding of your pursuits now, so they’ll know their roles and responsibilities in due time.

Don’t wait until it’s convenient to involve them, only to remember when it’s too late. Such panic may subject you to unnecessary pressure. Your family should always be your top priority when planning for sustainability in life and self-reliance. You invest in their education to add value to your life, so why exclude them when planning your future, you will still include them in your will?

The writer is the executive director of Hope Regeneration Africa, a parenting coach, marriage counsellor, and the founder of the Men of Purpose mentorship program.

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