April 26, 2019

A few months ago, I made a promise to myself: I would never let a conversation with a new friend or acquaintance revolve solely around the question, “What do you do for work?”

Anytime a stranger has asked me that in the midst of a party, the conversation always starts and orbits around my 9-5 job rather than all the other things I have to offer the world.

I quickly grew frustrated by conversations that left me feeling like I was defined solely by what I do for work. But then, after some self-reflection, I realized I also always asked the same question, despite how it made me feel when it was thrown my way.

So I tried to understand why I was asking it.

I realized there are so many preconceived notions you can drum up about someone based on what they do for work, including how much money they make and what their status might be in the world. Plus: It's often how we're asked to define ourselves from an early age.

A 2014 poll found that 55% of Americans found their sense of identity from their job.

In a recent piece for the New York Times, organizational psychologist Adam Grant addressed the root of that staggering statistic—and why we need to stop the questions as soon childhood.


You are enough—and if you need a reminder, tap into your Know Your Self Worth meditation, now in the Shine app. Here's a sneak peek:


“Asking kids what they want to be leads them to claim a career identity they might never want to earn,” Grant writes. “Instead, invite them to think about what kind of person they want to be—and about all the different things they might want to do.”

Asking “What do you do?” isn’t a bad question, per se, but to dig a little deeper—and get a better understanding of yourself—you can look at the other parts that make up the whole human.

Asking “What do you do?” isn’t a bad question, per se, but to dig a little deeper—and get a better understanding of yourself—you can look at the other parts that make up the whole human.
Tweet

Here’s a reminder of seven things other than your job that contribute to who you are—and contribute to who other people are, too.

Let’s celebrate them!

Your hobbies

Maybe you care for a garden in your spare time or have just started running. Your hobbies tell the story of how you choose to spend your time, beyond the confines of work. And, oftentimes, your hobbies speak to the skills you have that don't often get to shine during your 9-5.

Your community

Where you live and the people who you spend time with all make up who you are. It’s a part of the fabric of your day-to-day, and there's a special value in the connections you can build through volunteering or spending time with the people in your community.

Your personal relationships

Similarly, you can’t put a price on the ways people care for friends and family. The way you show up for them—whether it’s through acts of service or just texts to check-in—is a beautiful demonstration of your integrity and thoughtfulness. Shout-out to you!

Your values

What you value and how you feel is a big part of how you move in this world. Whether or not you’re religious, finding strength in values like integrity, ambition, or courage are all keys to exploring different parts of yourself.

Your perspective

The lens through which you see the world is uniquely yours. That’s pretty powerful! Remember it whenever you feel small, without a seat at the table, or want to take up space. Your experiences and perspective matters, and deserves to be heard.

Your purpose

Regardless of whether or not you feel like you’ve found your purpose, the passion you may have for a cause or mission is a big part of who you are that isn’t always reflected in your work. That doesn’t make it any less important, though!

Your compassion

The way you love yourself and others can’t be measured by a title or promotion. How you talk to yourself says a lot about your resilience and spirit, too.

If these 7 reminders aren’t enough, consider creating your own list of things that help shape your identity outside of your job. Ask yourself these questions to get started:

●︎ What makes you feel most fulfilled?

●︎ How do you show up for yourself or people you love?

●︎ How do you define success in your life?

Next time you’re at a function, don’t be afraid to ask someone about their job—just remember, there’s more to them, and you, than that.


Read more: Read This If You Ever Find Yourself Doubting Your Worth

Today's recommended meditation:

Tweet