With our economy changing daily, and our job status perhaps changing along with it, now is a good a time to change the way we think about how what we do, and where we work, defines us.

When did what we “do” become the definition of who we are?

So often, the first question we’re asked when someone new meets us is, “What do you do?” Has anyone ever started a conversation with, “What are your hobbies? What’s your passion? What keeps you up at night? Where are you from? How do you like living in Halifax?”


Over the last century in North America, what we “do” has become the defining quality of who we are. We’ve become so busy trying to cram everything in, we’ve stopped building relationships. We’ve forgotten what makes us individuals.

Most of us fell into our careers because of the paths our lives took. We were led by where we were living, who we met, how our relationships took form, and the direction our first “real” job led us.

Many of us will admit that what we do is the farthest thing from where our passion lies. More than 75 per cent of participants in a FUSION survey released Jan. 29 revealed that the reason they are driven to live, work and play in Halifax is because of the lifestyle the city offers, and its proximity to family — not their career. If these are the reasons we’re here, shouldn’t they be the same reasons we connect with each other?

If, tomorrow morning, you woke up and could do anything you wanted, would it be what you do today? Likely not. So, why do we insist on defining people by what they do, not by who they are?

The next time you introduce yourself to someone, try this: Ask what brought them to Halifax, their favourite restaurant, or their child’s name. Find out a little bit about them, and not what they do or where they work.

In this time of economic struggle, if you suddenly find yourself without a job, or taking a job to tide you over while you find something that suits you better, don’t feel that it has changed who you are. What you do isn’t who you are; it’s just how you pay the bills. Who you are is so much more than that.

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