“I’m Jane Smith. I’m an accountant with XYZ company.”
“It’s nice to meet you, Jane. I’m a marketing assistant with XYZ company. You must be on the 4th floor. I’m on the second floor.”
I’m sure you have experienced something like this a few times throughout your life.
How often do we answer the question, “Who are you?” with what we do?
When I evaluate my “career,” I realize that I have done a lot of jobs.
I have performed tasks in: warehousing, computing, marine mammal training, kangaroo keeping, casino dealing, dog training, merchandising, vending machine delivery, landscaping, etc.
However, I am not a former casino dealer, a dog trainer, or an unemployed landscaper. I am not the work that I have done. I am not my past, and I am not the circumstances I find myself in. And neither are you.
When we identify ourselves by what we do, rather than who we are, we identify our shadow lives.
“Sometimes, when we’re terrified of embracing our true calling, we’ll pursue a shadow calling instead. The shadow career is a metaphor for our real career. Its shape is similar, its contours feel tantalizingly the same. But a shadow career entails no real risk. If we fail at a shadow career, the consequences are meaningless to us.”
— Steven Pressfield, The War of Art
With the New Year approaching, I’d like you to consider making a LIFE resolution: Change your identity.
Old: “I am an alcoholic.” New: “I have a problem with drinking and I need help.”
Old: “I am stuck in a bad relationship.” New: “I will find someone who will appreciate me.”
Old: “I am a retired police officer.” New: “I take cooking classes and look forward to owning a food truck.”
Am I asking you to forget the past, sugar-coat your current circumstances, or be dishonest? Not at all.
I simply want to encourage you to respect who you are. By adhering to the labels other people give you, or imposing limiting beliefs on yourself, you are living in a restrictive shadow life.
Believe in possibilities. Let your shadow (life) follow you, but don’t let it lead you!
So the next time someone asks you, “What do you do?” consider answering them this way, “I do a lot of things, but I am: kind, generous, thankful, worthy, the list goes on.”
That is living, working, and showing “career” loyalty to yourself.
Now, go get ’em and enjoy a New You!
Be Kind. Be Thankful. Be Significant.