Three-and-a-half hours north of Los Angeles, the Happiest City in America — dubbed so by The Oprah Winfrey Show in January 2011 — is tucked away on California’s Central Coast, with sprawling Pacific coastline to the south and rolling green hills to the north. This eclectic town, with a population just under 50,000, is made up of a variation of folks, including long-time locals, families, retirees, young professionals and Cal Poly SLO and Cuesta college students.

Embrace.  The dictionary describes this seven-letter word as, “an act of accepting or supporting something willingly or enthusiastically.” Throughout every professional’s career, there are numerous stages that are positively embraced with open arms and a megawatt smile: The job offer, promotion, raise, title change, etc.

But in the years spliced between each of these hard-earned achievements is the sweat, tears, sleepless nights, frustrations and moments of hopelessness that can entice us to ignore the present and fantasize about what could be.

On average an adult, full-time professional spends 2,000 hours each year working*. That’s roughly eight hours a day, 40 hours a week and 166 hours per month. During the in and out of office (whatever the “office” may be) time spent sending emails, answering calls and meeting pressing deadlines, every employee gives a piece of themselves to their job.

In the many hours, days, weeks and months dedicated to seeing a project come to fruition, assuming a title or career as one’s identity can become second nature. Whether or not one has pride in their LinkedIn headline, company or career trajectory, the more time spent (or not spent) in a position, the easier it becomes to allow it to define them.