Your Career/Job Does Not Define You

Careers“I’ve learned that making a ‘living’ is not the same thing as making a ‘life.’”

~ Maya Angelou

When you are asked by somebody, “What do you do?” how do you respond? Do you tell them what your job or career is? Do you say, “I’m a neurosurgeon,” or “I’m a circus clown,” or “I’m between jobs right now?” It is normal to respond to this question in this way. But why?

Is what you do for your job what defines you? Is it the most important thing in your life? Is it what gets you up in the morning? Does your career drive you? Are most of your decisions in your life based on how it affects this job or career? In our society we tend to think of ourselves as defined by our career, but I feel that this is a very narrow, and often dim view of ourselves.

While it is true that we put much of our effort in our lives into our career (a disproportionate amount in my opinion) it is not who we truly are. After all, if our career is who we are, then why do most of us so desperately wait for our vacation time? Why do we look forward to retiring? Do you need a break from who you are?

Please don’t think that I am discounting your contribution to our world and our society that comes through your work. I am not saying that your work is not important – to you, and to others – but I am saying that your work is not who you are. I just feel that we need to take a much broader view of who we are on this physical plane.

Although I work as an accountant, that does not mean that “what I do” is accounting. What I do is so much more. I read, I write, I play music, I dance, I spend time having fun with my family and friends, I spend time with nature, I draw graphite portraits, I cook, I volunteer, I advise people, I seek advice, I dream, I pursue my dreams, I spend time in quiet solitude, and so much more. Accounting is just one of the things that I do.

So when I am asked, “What do you do?” how should I respond. All of these things are important to my life, so it is almost impossible to choose one over another – and I really do them all – so what do I choose?

I have determined that my response to this question will be, “I live life to the fullest, enjoying as much of this wonderful world as I can.” If the asker of the question really wants to know how I earn my living, they will rephrase the question to ask that specific question, or they will go away with my unsatisfying, but most likely surprising, answer. That is their choice.

You are not defined by what you do to earn money – not even if you feel it is the most important part of your life – not even if it is your passion. It is only one small facet of who you really are. Don’t sell yourself short. Be a whole person. Live life as it is meant to be lived – with joy and passion in every aspect – and not with one small part defining you.

Do you define yourself by your job or career? Do you agree or disagree with this point of view? Leave a comment and let the community know what you think. We’re listening.




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