Has your job changed who you are?

It was 10 years ago this month that I left my steady job at The Globe and Mail to try something new. As the newspaper’s marketing reporter, I had been writing a lot about the infancy of social media and how brands were using tools like YouTube, blogs and MySpace.

I had the chance to join a mid-sized public relations company to launch a social media practice and I jumped on it.

My exit couldn’t have been better timed. In 2007, nobody could have predicted the implosion that was about to rock the worldwide newspaper industry.

But I was also happy to be leaving a career that had changed me more I anticipated when I’d started reporting a decade earlier.

My personality had always been rational, and I never accepted anything without proof. But I had allowed journalism to harden me. It had become more difficult for me to see the good in the world.

This is nothing against journalists or journalism, a profession I continue to respect immensely.

But it is extremely difficult not to be hardened in a profession where, to be successful, you have to:

  1. Assume everybody you are interviewing has something to hide
  2. Cover murders, floods, plane crashes and other tragedies without letting your emotions get in the way, and
  3. Avoid being a fan of whatever you are covering no matter how noble or fun.

Journalists prided themselves on being detached, sober and skeptical. To be a “hard-nosed journalist” is a badge of honor. But there’s a fine-line between being hard-nosed and being unhappy.

Gretchen Rubin writes about how some people choose to be unhappy in her book The Happiness Project.

“Of course, it’s cooler not to be too happy. There’s a goofiness to happiness, an innocence, a readiness to be pleased. Zest and enthusiasm take energy, humility, and engagement; taking refuge in irony, exercising destructive criticism, or assuming an air of philosophical ennui is less taxing.”

There is magic in the world. But it’s hard to see it when you’re living in a world of skepticism.

Every job I’ve had has changed my personality in ways good and bad.

At the PR agency, there were times when I felt so happy and energized from a job that felt so fun. But there were also deep, depressing lows.

Working as the social media lead for a large corporation, I needed to go out of my way to be outgoing and positive for the team I was leading, and that made me feel more outgoing and positive.

And although running my own business – a small publishing company with no co-workers – can be lonely, it is also extremely satisfying and energizing to create something amazing all on my own.

What’s your experience? Has your profession changed who you are?


  1. A few years ago, I was on track to run a 300-seat callcentre serving the mobile cellular and Internet hosting space. We were so busy it took me some time to realize that it wasn’t bringing me happiness. It changed who I was. My job forced me to become more reserved, less outgoing. Everything I said was judged and interpreted by my teams. Eventually, after much introspection I realized I was on the path to power and responsibility— but not happiness. I quit later that week and began seeking something new. I’ve been making slow but steady progress, inching toward happiness and fulfillment every day.

    • Thanks for sharing your experience Ben. Often we are so determined to climb the ladder that we don’t stop to ask if we even care about getting to the top. It’s great that you took the time to think about this and made the choice that was right for you.

  2. Reblogged this on My Instruction Manual and commented:

    Hey friends!

    Today I’m reblogging one of my first posts, which most of you probably haven’t seen yet.

    Remember to click through to the original post and let me know how your own career path has impacted your happiness!


  3. Fascinating read! Thank you for the re-post. When I was young I used to dream about being a journalist, and there is nothing out there that I have seen giving the perspective on it that you have shared. Valuable information for those who may be considering it as a career going forward.
    I know my job has changed me a lot. I think mostly for the better, in my case.
    I work as a court reporter/court services, and have for the past 13 years. It has made me eschew some things I used to take an interest in, such as crime and legal shows and the news (print or otherwise), and has made me somewhat more sensitive and aware of my surroundings and the people I encounter. However, it has also taught me a greater respect for people – all people – that I am ashamed to admit I did not have so much before. It has opened my eyes to the world outside of just the bubble I live in. It has taught me patience and has tempered my personality. Because of the obvious rules, code of conduct and all of the pomp and circumstance, it has polished me, my mannerisms, my speech, my behaviours in a positive way. It has made me a more grateful and caring person.

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