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Celebrating Personal Identity and Fostering Well-Being at Work: A Talk With Evan Kardon, MFT

A Talk With Evan Kardon, MFT, with a picture of Kardon.

As proud agency peeps who are often telling inspiring career stories (aka employer branding), we know work accomplishments are a big deal for all of us. As creatives, this is true in the sense that our careers lead us to some pretty amazing experiences.

Oftentimes, creative careers can come with the desire to meld our personal and professional lives. Overidentifying with our careers in this way can lead to consequences like burnout, strain on relationships, and loss of motivation.

With May being Mental Health Awareness Month, we wanted to learn more about keeping the awesome in our career lives while avoiding the tendency to conflate our sense of worth with our work.

This is what led us to Evan Kardon, MFT. As an opera-singer-turned-therapist, Kardon joined BNO for a speaking event, applying her expertise as both a creative and a mental-health expert to give us some how-tos and how-not-tos when it comes to attaching to our wins and rejections and creating more balanced identities.

Here’s what we learned.

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Regulate with mindfulness

Successes and setbacks alike throw us off our emotional centers, changing how we feel about ourselves and how we show up for others. Mindfulness can be a powerful tool for staying grounded through it all. This can look like noticing thoughts without judging them, centering in the present, and tuning into your body rather than the busyness in your mind.

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Reframe setbacks

In our personal and professional lives, setbacks are inevitable. We can’t always control them, but we can change the way we look at them. Reframing rejections and setbacks as redirections and opportunities for growth can help us radically accept the present just as it is. Gratitude and positive self-talk are small things we can do to make a big difference in the way we feel.

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Reclaim your time

A huge part of untangling your identity—and worth—from your work lies in balancing your career and your other passions. This means practicing seeing yourself as separate from your performance at work and giving time to other restorative activities, be it running, baking, woodworking, kitesurfing, or anything else that floats your boat.

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Reflect regularly

On your own and with people you trust, set aside time to reflect on your values. Thinking about our passions and goals outside of our career in conversation, meditation, or journaling can help us refocus on and realign with our paths forward.

In short: Yes, our careers are important, but they are not the beginning and the end of self-worth. True self-worth comes from within and is based on an unconditional acceptance of ourselves regardless of external circumstances.

When we take self-compassion with us in our briefcases and commit to building more well-rounded lives, we are better for it. And because we know workplace culture is all about people, we know showing up for ourselves first is how we win together.