Most of us when asked, “What do you do?” feel compelled to respond to this seemingly innocuous question in creative and profound terms. “Oh, I’m a writer” or “I am a division President,” “I am an artist, animator, director, entrepreneur” as opposed to “I work from home.” It’s not about what you do that defines who you are as a person although I think our society and how we are programmed culturally often portrays a different image. And so it might seem that the “larger than life” your response is to the question “What you do for a living” may further the perception that you are as big as your title and your paycheck.
Not so. You are because you stand for values and attributes not for what you do for a living. This might imply that if you are unemployed you are nobody! Trying to justify your existence by virtue of your employment title, compensation or the company you work for is not a good place to rest. It’s like the man or woman going through a mid-life crises who goes out to buy a sports’ car and drives around town showing off, when in reality their house is about to foreclose and they are out of a job. Trying to prove who you are by what you do or own is not going to make your transition to finding a job or figuring out what you want from your next job any clearer.
So you may enjoy the ride for a little while but the truth is you are who you are because of what you stand for, your qualities, attributes and your integrity. You are not your job. It’s too easy to get caught up with having the status symbols that go along with that all-important job. The corner office, the executive perks, the company car, all attempt to represent symbols of who you are when in reality they are just symbols.
Making the most of the choices you have in front of you whether you are in between jobs or just not happy where you are help to define the road you are destined to travel based on what you want and not what might sound impressive to someone else. Basing your goals, desires and career choices on your fundamental values helps to shape your career in a way that represents your highest good not just your highest paycheck.
The next time someone asks you “What do you do?” tell them “I am not my job” and see what kind of reaction you get. Might sound like you are avoiding the question, but the truth is you are being true to you and not what they’d like to hear. Remember your job is a just a paycheck and will change like the wind, you on the other hand are like a rock, hard, strong and steady.