ARE YOU WHAT YOU DO?

When you first meet someone that is unfamiliar with your day to day activities or you have known someone a short while and they have become curious to how you spend your day you will certainly be asked: “what do you do?”

Prior to having my scrumptious babies, this question was easy to answer, I had my 30-second elevator speech down like a pro. It rolled confidently and eloquently of my tongue whilst leaving me feeling proud of what I did and certain of who I was. Do you have an elevator speech? I’m sure you do, it’s that 30-second speech that we give without a second thought that encapsulates what we do for a living. Hopefully, once you’ve said it out loud you want to give an air mic drop. If not you might want to re-think your speech!

Life after kids has made this question unbearably frustrating for so many of us. Our identity changes immediately once we become parents. Kids change the balance of the household, you’re paid and non-paid working hours change dramatically. We are faced with more commitments than humanly possible, we are no longer defined by our careers, we are shed loads more.

It’s got me thinking why do we ask each other “what do you do?”

What information are we looking for?

I find being asked this question “what do you do” leaves you open to being ranked and filed according to the person asking the question’s criteria. Um no thanks! What someone does isn’t who someone is. Don’t assume their answer means everything. People are so much more and have more going on today than a 9 to 5 job.

Let’s look at it this way, its estimated Gen Ys (those born between 1981 and 1994) will have about 10 career or job changes in their lifetime. Gen X’s (that’s me, those born roughly between 1963 and 1980) are estimated to be as high as 17 career or job changes by the time they retire. If you’re curious I was born in 1980, best year ever, just saying. So if we are staring down the significant job and career changes over our lifetime how can we possibly answer the question “what do you do?”

Does your job make you who you are? Sure you can have a solidly accomplished career that you are proud of and that’s amazing, but what about your interests outside of your career? They are a significant part of who you are. You can also have a job, not a career and have hobbies that are fulfilling and define who you are more than your job.

Producing quality work has many benefits, it certainly contributes to a stronger sense of identity and purpose but what about your values? Do they count?

Asking someone that question in this day and age is not going to give you an accurate description of who they are. Perhaps we need to change the question, like tell me about yourself, you might just get the information you were after and a whole lot more.

If you are on the pointy end of that question and you don’t have an elevator speech that’s mic drop worthy it’s time to re-think what you say about yourself. Try something like this:

“I’m a coffee loving hippie who refuses to leave the house without makeup. I hate everything that isn’t organic and LOVE being around fabulous people. I gave birth to the most amazing little humans you have ever seen. I confidently run an empire that continues to blow-my-mind, but occasionally vodka is required.”

(insert mic drop)

“Why what do you do?”

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