Recently a coworker I was speaking with asked me, "Where do you want to be in ten years?" And that question kind of blew me away because the 5 year horizon is usually the one that I hear about, and it's the one i've asked in job interviews, I'm sad to say. But ten is a little more interesting because it's a little ways out. I have a boilerplate answer for the 5 year stuff - it's even less defined now - and it's, "In 5 years I want to be CXO at a Fortune 500 company." That's what I told my current boss and everything like that, that's kind of where I wanted to go.
We started talking about what year it's going to be in ten years and it's going to be 2013 - hah! - there you go, it's going to be 2023 in 10 years. In 10 years I'm going to have a 13 year old son and I'm going to be married for just about 20 years at this time. That's the more important stuff for sure.
Jobs are obviously a part of my life and they always will be to some extent, and the work I do will be a part of my life. But there are bigger things and more important people involved in my life than my job and the people at my job - whom I like and sometimes love very much. That's what's important to me. And it's really easy to say that your job is your identity is your job. Traditionally it had been harder on guys for this; that's changing a lot and now it's hard on everyone. We're all getting defined by our jobs.
But what we need to do is own that and run it and say, "I'm going to be defined by this, instead" - no matter what it is. It might be your job or it might be something else. It might be the hobby that you've always wanted to do, or it might just a part of yourself that you want to get out and have out there more.
Letting your job be your identity is kind of risky. You have to ask yourself, "Does it really, really give a full picture of who I am?"