“So, What Do You Do?”

UnknownHow many times have you met someone for the first time and they ask you “what you do” for work?

Our work, to a great extent, defines us.  The answer to the question “What do you do?” has the potential to open up a huge can of worms.  All of a sudden our work becomes our identity, whether we like it or not.

I’ll be the first to admit that I connect my work with my identity.  It is why I have always strived to do work I love.  But think about someone who is out of work (millions of Americans are right now):  In a sense, they are cut off from their identity.  They cannot explain what they do, and thus who they are.

We should never see a person’s talent wasted.

Ideally, our work should allow us to take what is great inside of us and share it with the world (again, I am very lucky in this regard, but it hasn’t always been this way!).  Our work should give our life meaning and dignity; it doesn’t matter if we fix sinks, raise children, or are artists.

How do we view our work?

We all have a clear choice.  We can view our work as a set of “must do’s” and obligations, or we can view it as a challenge.  If we don’t enjoy what we do, how is anyone else going to respect it?

Many people I know equate a good job with salary, benefits, and security.  When I decided to quit my job, the first questions people asked me dealt with how I was going to live without a pension!  Thank goodness my musician and educator friends judge their careers by whether or not they can express their talents appropriately.  Benefits is not how I judge whether or not my job is “good”.

This is how we find ourselves in the “dead end job” and stuck in our own life.  We become so caught up in the materialist mindset that we put ourselves in a serious bind.

Choosing a job that aligns to our passions often means that we will take a (temporary) pay cut.  If you have bought too much house (I was SO close to doing this several times), have a car payment that is too high, or a lifestyle built on keeping up with the Joneses, having a dream job often gets put on the back burner.

Stuck in work you don’t love because of fear.

We may not want to admit it, but most of the time fear is the reason we stay with work that is unsuited to our passion and potential.  While planning to leave my job, fear constantly whispered in my ear that I would not be able to afford to make ends meet, even though I lowered my overhead significantly over the past year.  Fear has the potential to crush our soul; I have felt that the work I love must be reserved for someone else before…and ignored the feeling.

Money is not the object here.  You will find that the happiest and most driven individuals are those who are deeply involved in their work, even if their time is unpaid.  Our work is our natural outlet for our life energy; it is most enjoyable when we love “what we do” and feel that it matters.

We shouldn’t measure our work by the stuff we get in return, but by the people we become in the process.




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