"So, what do you do?"
When someone asks, “what do you do?”, it can be easy to identify ourselves with our careers. After all, our “day jobs” occupy a substantial amount of our time and head space, however, when asked this common question what do you really want to say? Many of us naturally jump into talking about our jobs and the daily grind of the 9-5. This is a safe and comfortable way to easily relate to others rather than take the leap in being vulnerable and talk about what matters most to us. But, if we allow the answer to come more from our heart rather than our head, we can begin to honestly respond to this question. For many of us, if we look inside ourselves, we will find we are so much more than our careers.
After countless networking events...
Over the years, at countless networking events and company outings, I have spent a lot of time recounting what it is I do to others. Answering this question over and over. This becomes difficult when I am miserable at my job or not proud of the company I work for. I became really good at delivering canned responses with a contrived smile on my face to hide how apathetic I was about what I did. After answering, I would quickly reciprocate the question, shifting the subject off of me, asking the other person, “what do you do?” I hoped they were better off or would have something cool and inspiring to say. Many of these conversations ultimately turned into complaining sessions - bonding over tyrannical bosses, grueling hours, and unfulfilling work.
I started to ask myself
I started asking myself, what changes do I need to make so I can answer this question differently? If I am so unhappy in my day job, what can I add to my life so I can be proud and excited to answer the “what do you do” question? Imagine the high vibes conversation potential this could bring, and what would the other person talk about in return? Maybe I would learn something about another person that many people don’t know! Maybe we could bond over something else rather than the office! Oh, the possibilities!
Reflecting on how I answer the “what do you do” question, begged a bigger question. What could I start doing to occupy my time that aligns with my values, goals, and what I really care about?
How about a slash?
A slash? “Slash” has a definition other than that of your favorite heavy metal guitarist. Your slash is that thing that you do or love deep down to your core. For many of us, our slash is IN ADDITION to our day job. It’s your plus, ampersand, in addition to. Perhaps at a party you introduce yourself as, “I am a <insert day job here> SLASH <insert your slash here>.”
It’s what you hope people want to talk to you about about rather than your day job. It’s the thing that ignites your spirit, the thing you can do for hours and not even notice the time flying by. It probably makes coping with your soul-crushing day job a little easier. Maybe because of your slash you take life less seriously. It helps you keep life in perspective, not sweating the small stuff because you have something much bigger happening! It’s the thing you would do for free, it’s what you talk about to anyone who will listen. It makes you, YOU. It is the fire in your belly. You might already be known for your slash. You might even be planning your escape from the office to fully pursue your slash. Yes...that’s right...your slash!
But what if I have no idea what my slash is? Not to worry. It’s important to just take the first steps of asking and exploring. If you do know what your slash is, it's time to activate your superpowers now and get your business started!
5 questions to help you find your slash:
What am I insanely curious about?
What would I love to spend all of my free time doing?
What do I know more about than most people I talk to?
What am I doing when I totally lose track of time?
When I daydream about leaving my day job, what is it that I would do instead?
I would love to hear from you! What is your slash and where are you taking it?