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Three Steps to Reinvent Your Work Identity

Three Steps to Reinvent Your Work Identity

Have you ever felt that you were destined to do more than what you are currently doing? Perhaps, you have thought “I have a good life, a good job, great benefits([yes, those benefits matter!), but I’m not satisfied, something is missing.”

If so, you are not alone. Prior to transitioning out of corporate, I woke up many days, dreading getting out of bed and having to go to the J-O-B, while screaming, “There has got to be more to my life!” Well, guess what, there was and is!

If you are asking yourself career defining questions and feeling uncertain about your next steps, recognize that the universe is telling you that it is time to take stock and reevaluate your work identity. According to professor, researcher and author Herminia Ibarra, work identity is how you see yourself in your professional role, how you express yourself to others and how you see your work life. You are a composite of multiple selves; thus, as you work to reinvent your work identity, it is not a matter of simply flipping a switch to a new identity. To transform your career and the lens through which you see your professional self, you must be willing to go through a transition period of discovering possible future selves.

Here’s a little secret I learned over the years. When thoughts and questions of doubt and uncertainty came barreling at me, I learned to become comfortable with the divine discontent. Why? Because every time I faced my discomfort and unease with the status quo, I experienced a significant transformation in my life and/or career, a transformation that brought me closer to who I am meant to be. In sum, these doubts are the universe tapping me on the shoulder and alerting me that there is something bigger and better waiting for me. My role is to be prepared and ready to seize the opportunities when they arise.

How prepared are you to reinvent your work identity?

Below are three steps to help you transform your work identity.

  1. Embrace change
  2. Reflect
  3. Experiment

[Related: 7 Steps to Transition to the Career You Want]

First, you must embrace the questions, doubts, fears, and uncertainties you have about change by allowing yourself to be vulnerable and fully experience the feelings and emotions that surface. Change can be uncomfortable; however, it is a normal part of the human experience. Recognize and have faith in yourself that all will be okay!

[Related: You Don't Need A Career Change, You Just Need To Pivot]

Second, you need to gift yourself time for reflection—time with no distractions or interruptions—and ask yourself two simple questions:

  • Who am I?
  • What do I want?

On the surface, these questions appear simple, but for many they are hard to answer because they speak directly to who you are at your core—your purpose, mission, and vision for your career and your life. Therefore, you cannot rush this step, recognize that it is a process, and dare to dream, nothing is too silly. Also, be sure to journal or document your responses.

[Related: Back to Basics: Do You Know Your Mission and Vision?]

Third, experiment. Your life, your career, it’s all a journey, in which there are no clearly defined paths. True transformation comes by taking action and having the courage to push beyond the fear and the unknown. Any action, no matter how big or small is what is needed at this stage as you must test things to see what works. Please do not get hung up on taking the “right” action or the idea of perfection because perfection is simply that, an idea.

If you are looking for your next career move, remember to: embrace the change, gift yourself reflection time to gain clarity, and take action. It’s a journey, enjoy it!


Demetria Henderson is a career transformation coach, educator, speaker, and researcher. Prior to formally launching her coaching and consulting practice, Demetria spent over 15 years in the corporate world before going back to school to earn her PhD in business management. Her mission is to create and nurture positive relationships and to be of service by empowering others to identify and courageously pursue their passions and dream career in order to live their best lives.

Have more questions? Follow up with the expert herself.