What Do You Do?

Why is it that when we meet someone for the first time one of the first questions we ask or are asked is, “What do you do?”  Not only that, how do we typically answer this question when asked?  Here is how it might look in real life.

“Hi, my name is Johnny Miller.  What’s your name?”  You of course would answer with your name and then I may ask you, “and what do you do?”  If you are like most people, you would answer with your job title.  So you might say, “I’m a teacher or an artist.”

Truthfully, there is nothing wrong with this question or wrong with answering with your current occupation.  However, we should challenge ourselves to start broadening our personal view of ourselves to more than just our J-O-B-s.  Why not answer with something like this : “My name is Johnny Miller, and I am husband to the most amazing wife, Kimberly, and father to our crazy puppy and our calico cat.”

Look beyond your job and dig deep to reveal your priorities.  What things are most important in your life?  For me, I would say my faith, my spouse, my family and friends, my church, and my career are most important.  I am challenging myself to begin restructuring my answer when asked “what do I do?” and honestly, it has been very difficult.  Our culture places high importance on careers to such a degree that our careers can become the only thing that defines us.  This is why it can be incredibly difficult when we lose a job or do not get that promotion at work or a business we start ends up failing.

Do not let your career define you, even if you love the work that you are currently doing.  Begin finding balance by investing time and energy into your spouse, your family, your health, your spirituality, and your creativity.  When we all take time to do this, we can start answering this question differently and begin to see life in a different light.

Step back from the way that you earn a living and go forward into actually living your life well and with purpose.  What we pay attention to multiplies, so let us all make sure we are making deposits in other areas of our lives.  Only then can we appreciate others more fully and find contentment that brings our lives clarity.




  1. Janelle G April 29, 2016 at 1:00 AM - Reply

    So great and so true, Johnny!

    • Johnny April 29, 2016 at 12:00 PM - Reply

      Thanks, Janelle!

  2. Marques September 11, 2017 at 12:58 PM - Reply

    BOOM! I can’t talk about this enough. My favorite questions to ask people (when I have the courage, because believe me it isn’t always), “What is it that you really want to do?” or if I didn’t have the courage to ask that and give them the boring, “What do you do?” depending on how they respond I then ask, “Oh interesting, why did you choose that?” Keep up the great writing!

    • Johnny September 12, 2017 at 1:24 PM - Reply

      Exactly! We tend to associate who we are with our current work situation which makes sense in a way. But it’s so much more interesting to dig deeper. I love that follow up question you ask, “why did you choose that?” Thanks for the encouragement, Marques!

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