In a coaching process group I run called Full Contact (you’re invited!), a conversation came up about potentially losing our job. There was a shared question: “Who would I even be without my work?”
So I dove in. I said, “Let’s interrogate that. Who would you be without your work?”
Someone said something along the lines of “Without my work, I’d be lost. I’d have no meaning or purpose.” (Not exactly that because I don’t want to quote the group members. But along those lines).
I said, “What is your work?”
The person said, “I’m a _______ .” (Like I said, I don’t want to break confidentiality. It’s enough to know they said their job.)
I said, “That’s your job. What’s your work. Your personal work. Why do you wake up in the morning?”
The person said, “Oh, my work is helping people.”
I said, “So how could you lose your work just by losing your job?”
Now, I am not saying it isn’t hard AF to lose a job. But to lose your job does not mean to lose who you are.
Our job is not who we are. Our work, our soul work, is who we are.
My group member could lose her job. But she could never lose her work. Her work, she said, is to help people.
Here is the thing: There are some circumstances we cannot change (like losing your job). Sometimes, you have nothing to say about those circumstances.
But you have everything to say about who you are going to be in the face of those circumstances.
What do you want to give the people you encounter?
What are your values?
What are the qualities of experience you want?
What do you want your interpersonal connections to be like?
If you keep hold of these questions and move in the direction they point you, you will always have your work. You will always have your direction. You will always have yourself.
If your direction and your work are clear and you are committed to them, this is your true job. Your true job can never be taken from you.
For about the last three years, I have been dealing with a family crisis that requires so much of my attention that I haven’t been able (until now) to put 100% of my effort into my “job job”—growing my coaching business. But never for a moment did I stop doing my work, my true job.
I know my true job and no one and no circumstance can take that from me. If it can be taken away, it is not your true job.
So, what is your true job?