I recently finished the book How to Calm Your Mind by Chris Bailey. There were so many great concepts and takeaways from this book. I was discussing this book with a friend of mine, and one of the many takeaways was that we are much more than our jobs. As people we are more than what we do for work. We are mothers, and fathers, sons and daughters and brothers and sisters. We are runners and fitness enthusiasts. Pet owners, and animal lovers. We are cancer survivors and fighters. We are musicians and song writers. The list goes on.
Who Are We?
I had always been associated with my role at my company. My job was my identity. It began early on in my career, shortly after finishing college and joining the workforce. I was a designer, and the technology guy. I was the guy people would come to with these types of questions, thoughts or conversations. Can you fix this? Can you create that? It was who I was.
Admittedly, this is something I enjoy. I liked what I did, and continue to like what I do. Being sought out for my opinion or to help solve a problem at work or my customers is great. I like the feeling of contributing and developing our goals and vision for a company we work for. I feel we align on values, and why we do what we do.
We Are More Than What We Do
However, I began to think more about who we are. Who I am. Really understanding who I am as a person. I’m a son of an amazing, loving father who helped shape me into the man, and caring father I hope I am to my own children. Also, I’m a comic book nerd, and enjoys the conflict between good and evil when watching recent Marvel and DC movies. I am heavy metal enthusiast and live music fan! A divorced single man who has entering the dating scene in his forties. A new cat dad to my Savannah, Malachi! I am an advocate for financial education and understanding personal finance. We also started a nonprofit organization to help families in financial hardship due to medical debt.
I had began to think more about what I do, or who I am other than my role at my company. It is interesting, that as you meet someone at a school PTO meeting, networking event, or other social gathering or when ever we are meeting someone for the first time, the most common question asked is “What do you do?”
We are quickly to respond, “I’m an <insert job title here/> at <insert company name here/>. This is a somewhat normal convention. Maybe this isn’t the absolute best way we engage each other in these situations? This can sometimes cause awkwardness or the feeling of shame or embarrassment too. Feeling that you may be judged. For example, maybe you aren’t particularly proud of your current job. Maybe you’ve recently been let go from your company during a restructuring. Maybe you’ve taken a medical leave due to injury or are caring for an ill family member.
What Do You Do?
There are many reasons, or things we “Do.” by asking the question, “What do you do?” One could easily respond with, “I run Iron Man Marathons, and I’m training multiple times a weak right now.” or how about, “I foster senior dogs, and currently have this adorable French Bulldog. I like taking him for walks! When someone asks you what do you do, maybe you reply with, “I’m a mother to two wonderful children, ages 8 & 10. They are in dance, and baseball. I’m pretty involved with that right now. This can go on and on. It opens up a dialog about more than just what we do for work, and gets to introduce us as people. As humans. As moms, dads, grandparents or care givers.
I recall reading something many years ago about how to engage with others. It was how to network, and connect with people. One of the tricks was to ask people, “How do you spend your time?” This makes so much more sense to me now as I explore who I am outside of my job. I ask, would you to think about doing something similar? The next time you meet someone, ask them, “How do you spend your time?” They may discuss a work project or discuss what they do for work, but this is up to them. It puts this on them how they’d like to respond. This isn’t asking them what they do, as if this is the one single thing that make up their entire identity.
As I’m approaching retirement from W2 employment, and leaving the workforce, I’m going through a little bit of an identity crisis. If I am not my job, who am I? I need to get used to the fact that I’m not my job, and my role at a company isn’t my identity. I’ll need to really look into the many things I do as I spend my time. I will continue to be a supportive father to my kids. I’ll continue to foster and nurture the friendships I have inside and outside of work. I’ll hope to be more, much more than what I am as an employee. Once I’m no longer <insert job title here/> at <insert company name here/> who will I be?
Horns Up my friends! \m/ \m/ Thanks for listening.