Heart Led Health by Coach Donna

Sunday / November 27 / 2011

What do you do for a living?

Unabashedly me. General lover of life.
Unabashedly me. General lover of life.

So, what do you do for a living?

Invariably, that’s the first question right after you meet someone, or see them after an extended period of time.

But why does anyone really give a rip what your business card says? …or if you even have one?

In my experience, I’ve discovered only a handful of reasons for the ask.

  • To determine one’s own self-worth based on how he ranks your profession in comparison to his (…most popular at class reunions).
  • Perhaps a girl wants to learn the value of you as a potential future mate, arrogantly consumed with finding someone with a “good job”, who she considers stable, who she can “change, if necessary” once she’s wearing your ring. (For the record… I advise sprinting from this particular breed).
  • If at a networking function, the question is habitually asked to see if you’ll prove of any future professional benefit.

I’d be remiss
if I didn’t point out the other side of the networking coin – which is when you’re fortunate enough to meet one of the ‘extraordinaries’. An ‘extraordinary’ deliberately asks the question to see if he will prove of any future professional benefit to and for you (perfect example is my “WonderTwin” and co-worker, John Marcantonio, Networking Guru of the Northeast).

But chances are, the solid majority of underlying intent for the ask is at worst, self-serving – and at best, bored and disinterested.

I admit I’ve fallen into the motions. Typically when someone asks me what I do for a living, I respond with, “Marketing and public relations, primarily in the realm of not-for-profits.”

Why do we assume the question translates, “What does your business card say?” Chances are that card is going to change in the average two-to-three years anyway.

Don’ judge others by their answer of employer or job title. You can not create a hierarchy of value or worth by comparing job responsibilities.

Starting this week, I’m planning to respond to the question with what I really do for a living… what makes me live… what makes my life worth living. I’m going to respond, “I live life for a living,” answering more along the lines of how I define “me” in my Twitter profile:

  • Unabashedly me
  • Euphoric wife of @PiksEnodlams
  • Founder of The You Evolution™
  • In love with writing
  • ChapStick addict
  • General lover of life

Yes, I battle with depression. Yes, I have extended family dysfunction just like you. No, I can’t sleep in till 11:00am every day (one can dream). Yes, I collect a paycheck as a marketing professional.

But mostly, the first and last descriptors in my Twitter profile serve as the bread of the sandwich that is me.

I love deeply. I try to value others as Jesus does. I am not perfect, and don’t pretend to be. I embrace my journey of self-discovery. I cherish my children. I find comfort in my dog, Zeke.

And I wouldn’t be evolving into me, the real me, without my soulmate, lover, and best friend Skip walking hand-in-hand beside me.

Join me in living life for a living, my friends. Let’s let the world in on it.


6 responses to “What do you do for a living?”

  1. Erica says:

    Thanks for this reminder! Having left a job that I loved to relocate, I know find myself unable to answer this simple question. You always know just what I need to hear. 😉


    • Donna Smaldone says:

      The answer is evident in your move itself, sweet Erica. And your Twitter profile says a lot about “what you do for a living”. You run. You eat. (You run SO you can eat!) You eat veggies. You greet your pup with the same enthusiasm he greets you. And you love and cherish your man and your relationship above all of it.

      Thanks so much for your comment.


  2. Rick says:

    Donna, this post particularly resonates with me at this particular time.

    I “retired” from my job with Canada’s second largest bank, after 28 years, in July ’07, at the age of 47. I haven’t earned a paycheque since. That has been difficult–losing touch with the work-a-day world, being dependent on Chris financially, and losing some of who I worked so hard to become.

    On the one hand, I’m writing. I’m fulfilling my lifelong dream. I’ve never written so much in my life. I have the beauty and comfort of my words. Sometimes, that’s all I feel I really have. Sometimes, that’s not enough.

    I still struggle with who I am minus a job and an income. When I’m asked what I do and I answer I’m a writer, I feel some people judge me. They ask if I’ve published anything. I haven’t, not since late 1994. I feel they’re thinking, will anything ever come of his writing, or is he just fooling himself? Maybe he should get real, find a job, be like everyone else.

    People relate easier to each other when they have jobs. In our culture, that’s how we define each other–and, regrettably, ourselves. That’s how we get put into boxes people know what to do with.

    To follow your dream, especially if has something to do with the arts–that throws people. Perhaps they see you as a moocher. Perhaps you force them to look at themselves and see how far away they are from fulfilling their own dreams, how much they’ve sold out. They don’t like what they see, and they could take it out on you.

    I really appreciate what you wrote in this post. I appreciate knowing someone else believes she’s more than the job she shows up for five days a week to earn an income. And I appreciate your new answer to the question, “What do you do for a living?”

    Living is defined in many different ways. For me, living is about using my words to help disenfranchised people see themselves differently, to see their self-worth (separate from what the world assigns them), and to realize their fullest potential as human beings and children of God.

    • Donna Smaldone says:

      Thank you for your thoughtful insights, Rick. I appreciate your take on this. It really resonated with me when you wrote, “People relate easier to each other when they have jobs. In our culture, that’s how we define each other–and, regrettably, ourselves.”

      I think the key word there is “easier”. You’re right! We live in a fast-food society and strongly prefer quick-n-easy. But as you know, the good stuff in life takes more than that.

      What you are doing with your writing (which I encourage all my readers to check out here: http://thisgayrelationship.blogspot.com/) is extraordinary! You are helping others live into their lives through understanding, accepting, and loving themselves. THANK YOU.

      How powerful.

      (…love the new look of your site, too, by the way).


  3. Sara Mannix says:

    This post really opened my eyes, especially to how other people feel and will make me much more sensitive in the future… I just love to learn what other people do, for example I could never be a writer, I think it’s amazing that someone can think in such detail (I can only dream in detail but when I wake up, my stories are b-o-r-i-n-g! So published or not, I’d be seriously impressed with Rick 🙂 …. I love to share what I do so I always figured other people would too. It used to be a neutral subject and a safe one kind of like the weather but in this economy it might just be a subject to skip… unless at a mixer and then one should think like John M – how can I help this person!

    • Donna Smaldone says:

      You have a contagious spirit, Sara, which is part of the reason you want to share life with others.

      I also think when you do what you love and love what you do, there’s more of a sincere inclination to include your profession in the descriptor of one’s self.

      A book you would LOVE, Sara (and I highly recommend to you and all my readers) is by my friend Tommy Spaulding, “It’s Not Just Who You Know”. It’s all about transitioning your colleagues
      and contacts into genuine, lasting relationships. Check it out here: http://www.tommyspaulding.com/


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