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Ask Izzy: Embracing a life beyond work — A guide to prioritizing your well-being

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Energepic.com / Pexels
Energepic.com / Pexels

Ask Izzy is an advice column about relationships, mental health, and sexuality. Written by Isabel Mata — a Seattle-based lifestyle writer, podcast host, and mental health advocate — Ask Izzy offers tangible expert advice so all readers can have stronger relationships, better sex, and healthier mindsets. Submit your question today by filling out this survey

I was on the phone this past week with a dear friend who was contemplating changing her field of employment. Working in tech, she was tired of being burnt out for a cause she didn't believe in and was over being taken advantage of by the top-down corporate landscape that only profits the already wealthy. In discussing what she wanted to do next, she told me her dream is to find a job that is simply a job, meaning a way to pay her bills and fund her personal adventures. She no longer wanted her identity to be tied to the business she works for.

Just like my friend, in the fast-paced world we live in, it's easy to find ourselves caught up in the relentless pursuit of success and financial gain. Luckily, the winds of change are blowing and a new generation is boldly redefining the meaning of a fulfilling life. Gen Z — a generation I am proud to be a part of — having witnessed the struggles of previous generations, is embracing a paradigm shift: choosing to "work to live" rather than "live to work."

If you, like my friend, are feeling the urge to reprioritize your life away from the constant grind and on to a path to find meaning and stability, here's a guide to kick-start that transformative journey.

Reflect on your values
Begin by reflecting on what truly matters to you. What are your core values, passions, and aspirations, outside of work? Consider the activities and hobbies that bring you joy and fulfillment. This introspective process will serve as a compass for the changes you want to make.

Set boundaries
Establishing clear boundaries between your professional and personal life is crucial. Define specific working hours, and once those are over, allow yourself to fully disconnect. This will not only prevent burnout but also create space for activities that nurture your well-being.

Reevaluate your relationship with materialism
Society often emphasizes material success as a measure of one's worth. Challenge this notion and reassess your relationship with material possessions by focusing on experiences and meaningful connections rather than the accumulation of things. This shift in mindset can alleviate the pressure to constantly strive for financial success.

Financial consciousness
While financial stability is important, consider reassessing your definition of success. If you know how much money you need to make to meet your needs, explore alternative paths that align with your values, even if they come with a smaller paycheck. Creating a budget that prioritizes your well-being over unnecessary expenses can also be a crucial step in achieving financial freedom.

Invest in learning and growth
Redirect your energy toward personal development and learning experiences. This doesn't necessarily mean pursuing a traditional education; it could involve exploring hobbies, joining clubs, or engaging in activities that stimulate your mind and creativity. The idea is that embracing a continuous learning mindset leads to a more enriching life.

Build a support system
Surround yourself with like-minded people who share your values and aspirations. A strong support system can provide encouragement, guidance, and a sense of community as you navigate the challenges of reprioritizing your life.

Practice mindfulness and self-care
Integrate mindfulness practices and self-care routines into your daily life. Whether it's meditation, yoga, or simply taking time for a quiet walk, these moments of reflection can help you stay grounded and connected to your true self in the age of social media and constant comparisons.

Remember, the journey to reprioritizing your life is a gradual process. Be patient with yourself and celebrate the small victories along the way. By consciously choosing to "work to live," you're not just creating a more balanced life for yourself but also contributing to a cultural shift that values well-being over relentless work.