What do you do?


Image by alice_ling via Flickr

You’re not your job. You’re not how much money you have in the bank. You’re not the car you drive. You’re not the contents of your wallet. You’re not your ******* khakis.  -Tyler Durden 

“What do you do?”

They typical answer is usually something like “I’m a computer programmer.”  Or a DJ, a cop, a barista, a stripper, or whatever.

The answer is always given in the context of work.  Is work the center of your life?   Is your career the most important thing you have?   For many, it is.  Our jobs become a fully integrated piece of our identities.  Even when we pay lip-service to putting our families first, all too often, we spend more of our waking hours working than actually living.

We spend 40, 50, 60 hours each week at our jobs.  It’s natural for that to become a part of us.

We go too far.

I am not my job.  I am not my career.

I am a father, a husband, a writer, a blogger, and more.  I have hopes, dreams, and ambitions entirely apart from my career.

I hope you do, too.

The next time someone asks you what you do, try responding with your passion.

“I’m a parent.”

“I grow freaking awesome roses.”

“I travel whenever I can.”

“I obsess over politics.”

Leave the tradition work-centric script behind.  You’re going to confuse the people who are expecting it.   They think they are asking about your job and you are responding with something that truly matters to you.

What do you do?

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    1. Great point. If you think of relatives who have died, when you describe them, you describe their personality, how they interatcted with family, etc. What they did as a job is usually second or third to their other attributes.

    2. I cook really well!!

      Love this, it’s a great response for those without a career too.

    3. What a powerful post. I have often struggled with this as I came from a very image orientated family. The motto being “you are your stuff’. In my adult years I have tried to change that attitude but only after going through a period of emotional spending and debt. I have since cleaned up my act and am a much happier person. I also try to put less emphasis on my job too but that is a hard one. I am a very career driven person but I am working on it.

      To answer your questions:
      I am a wife.
      I am a sister.
      I am a best friend.
      I am a health care worker.
      I am a world traveler.
      I love photography.

    4. YES!! FINALLY you’ve pointed out what should be obvious to all of us (but never is). If I keeled over and died suddenly today, I’d hate for my family to refer to me by my job title.


      I am a girlfriend.
      I am a sister.
      I am a daughter.
      I am a best friend.
      I am a lover of eclectic music and running in the rain.

    5. I have to say that I totally agree with this. There are some people that just dont understand – and what are they going to do when they retire, now that they are no longer a truck driver or whatever.

    6. I’ve been doing this for awhile now, it’s fun to see the responses. I also like to answer other questions literally.

      For example, “do you mind if i interrupt?” Yes, yes I do mind. But you already have interrupted to ask the question, so go ahead.

    7. Totally agree with this. I always answer this question with what I do in my real life.

    8. I’m a football fanatic! haha good thing they worked out a deal.

    9. When people ask what do you do? They are asking about work right?
      I’ll say I’m a new dad next time someone ask. 😉

    10. I’m a blogger. 🙂 I have been saying that for about 6 months and have only been self-employed for 2 weeks, so I truly believe in the power of positive thinking and defining yourself with your passions. 🙂

    11. Ha! I just noticed the slug in the URL!

      Anyway, I am a writer, friend, businesswoman and an observant person.

    12. I never answer with anything but what my employment is from 830 to 6ish 5 days a week. Actually if I asked the question and someone answered me “I am a dad” I would probably think they are being smug and don’t really want to entertain a convo with me!

    13. We study hard from childhood, we work hard during initial years to get a good job and good living, whats harm in saying what I do if I am well positioned. Agree that shouldn’t be the only one we say we are.

      • If that’s your passion, run with it. Something like 80% of people dislike their jobs. Why would they want to self-identify as something they hate?

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