Two years ago, I had a life altering event. I lost my job. Never having lost a job before, this was devastating. In my mind, the job defined who I was. After working in the computer field for over 25 years as a network administrator,  I was a good one. It was a high paying job, and I was proud of myself for choosing this as my career and mastering it. Whenever someone would ask  “Tell me about yourself” I would happily tell them I worked in the computer field.  My lost job made me feel lost, I was no longer “Gary the network administrator”.  But I soon learned your job does not define you.

After being let go from my work, I still had a nest egg saved up to last me a while. I decided to reset my outlook in life. I had a pen-pal who lived in Thailand, and without a job holding me back, I decided to go and relax for a couple of weeks and meet my pen-pal.  I booked my trip, went to Thailand, and fell in love with the country.  The Thai people have such a wonderful outlook in life. They taught me how to smile again. I spent only two weeks there, but I came back a different man. I was no longer “Gary the network administrator”.  I was Gary – the guy with lots of friends and the guy who smiles and laughs all the time.

With my new outlook, I landed my next job in about a month after getting back home.   Working in the computer field meant I wouldn’t be unemployed for very long.

But my life altering moment did not stop there. I decided I did not want my career to define who I am. I started volunteering in my community. I wanted to make a difference and help others. I had heard they needed help at the local community theater. So I asked them what I could do to help. Very soon, I was helping build theater sets and helping with the lights. It didn’t take much skill, all it took was a willingness to help.  I also heard about a retirement center who needed help with fund raising events. So I volunteered to help with their golf tournament. Soon afterwards, people started recognizing me as a person who would help in his community.  People would say to me “Haven’t I seen you somewhere before? You look really familiar.” I would answer back “Yes – I’ve seen you at the community theater.”  I no longer thought of myself as “Gary the network administrator.”  My job was something I did to pay the bills. I am much more than that now.

When people retire, it can almost seem that you have lost your job. You have been doing the same thing for many years when you were in the work force. You come home every day, and get up in the morning and do it all over again. Maybe when you retired, you felt kind of lost, like I did when I lost my job. You lost your identity as a worker. Some of you might even go back to work, out of boredom.

I am here to tell you, your job does not define you. It is just a way for you to pay the bills.  Helping others, making friends, and how often you smile is what defines us.  

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