What You Do Is NOT Who You Are

History has demonstrated all along–that people with carefully defined missions have always led and surpassed those who have none. ~ Laurie Beth Jones

identity-crisisIt’s easy to tie your identity to your job, especially if you love your work.

But your job description is not who you are. It’s what you do. If, for whatever reason, your job should cease to exist, what would happen to you?

Who are you outside of your work life? If you don’t know the answer to this question, you could have an identity crisis should you suddenly find yourself unemployed.

I know from personal experience just what this feels like. A few years back I was employed in the job of my dreams. Unfortunately, my identity was tied to my job and when it all came crashing down, I was devastated.

To learn more about this story, check out  When It Comes Completely Undone .

So how can you distinguish who you are from what you do? Following, are two tips for your consideration:

1. Create a personal Vision Statement and Mission Statement

It works for organizations. It keeps them on track and prevents them from drifting off in a million directions. Making decisions is easier when measured against a mission statement. It will also work for you. You can work with a career coach or access any number of books on the subject to assist you in building your personal vision and mission statements. I found  The Path by Laurie Beth Jones to be very helpful.

2. Develop a Personal Role Description

You have a job description that pertains to your duties at work. Why not create a personal role description that aligns with your values and who you are at work, home or anywhere else? A personal role description is more encompassing than your job description. It speaks to your core values and how you interact with your family, friends, the guy at the gas bar, etc. It outlines how you conduct yourself and reflects who you truly are no matter where you are.

Your vision/mission statements and personal role description will simplify your decision-making and help you to more easily recognize opportunities that line up with your passions and values.

What you do is not who you are. How do you differentiate between the two? What processes have you used to create a mission/vision statement and/or define yourself?

The purpose of The Other Bottom Line is to facilitate discussions that will help us all to better engage with our communities. Your participation and feedback are most welcomed and valued. Please join the discussion below.



  1. Wyrd Smythe

    You’re tapping into a key Existentialist idea that labels do not define you (although they may sometimes describe you). The canonical example is that one may have been a “thief” for many years, but at any given moment can decide to never steal again. Or someone who’s been “honest” all their life can at any moment decide to steal. Labels change in an instant. Your existence persists.

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