April 5th, 2011
“So what do you do for a living?”
I’m not sure why this is something society finds so important or fascinating, but perhaps ‘what we do’ clandestinely defines ‘who we are’. You can argue this if you want, but think about it: if you spend 40+ hours a week shuffling papers in an office or swinging a hammer on a job site, that role shapes a lot of what you do outside of work. Working in an office makes me feel different that when I was working construction. Being an artist is different than painting murals at the Olive Garden. How you choose to spend your waking days is a mirror of how you choose to spend your life. So I’ve begun asking my friends and co-workers what their dream response would be to that question.
When you meet someone for the first time and they ask, ”what do you do for a living?”
How do you wish you could answer that?
My friend Marty answered without any hesitation. “A scientist”. He quickly explained that he doesn’t even like science, but that being a scientist just sounds impressive. Other notable responses were: the President of the United States of America, a CEO, a famous musician, an inventor, an Astro-Physicist, a beer taster, and someone who makes shit happen. Yeah, I liked that one too.
No child grows up dreaming they would become the Senior Analyst of an insurance company or the Lead Manager of the Marketing Team. What happens between the ages of five and forty that life slips away and dreams stay as dreams?
By defining how you wish you could answer that question, you’re closer to realizing what it is you ought to be doing with your life. It doesn’t matter your age or life responsibilities. And before you rant about having a spouse and kids and a mortgage, look up Leo Babauta. He took an ancient, simple theme and now leads a tribe of millions. Oh, and that man has six kids, a wife, and he moved from Guam to San Francisco.
So what do you do for a living?
I don’t know how I want to answer this question yet, but I want to be someone who makes life happen. I wonder how Derek Sivers or Seth Godin or Tim Ferriss would answer that. I think they could say that they make change happen. That sounds good to me.
So what is your answer? What do you do for a living?
Okay. Now get there.