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102: Self-definition

f (John Garvens)
5 questions to ask when you dont know what to do with your life (Greatist)

Who are you? The answer to that one, seemingly simple, oh-so-deceptive question is a question that demonstrates a lot about how you think. After all, no matter what definition you choose, you’re choosing a set of assumptions and understandings that both you hold and others hold to align yourself with.

No one set of definitions is ever complete, nor is it perfect.

Negotiation coach John Garvens, in his blog, quotes a college professor of his about defining yourself by your work:

“What you do is not who you are. They are 2 separate things. Certainly, who you are influences what you do and how you do it. However, who you are as an individual is determined by the values you embrace, not by what you do. Financial or occupational success is irrelevant without a sense of who you are and what is truly important.”

Work may seem like the natural place to start with a definition – after all, it’s what most of us spend most of our time doing. Yet a Gallup poll recently found that only 13 percent of people felt truly and fully engaged at work — and I’m not entirely convinced this is a bad thing. After all, some things just need to get done, even if they’re aren’t fully exciting or engaging. So how about your passion?

Pay attention to self-help shelves, and you’ll find millions of digital and physical pages on how to “find your passion.”

Almost universally, the answer there is that your passion is what brings you joy, what you enjoy doing, what you gravitate towards when given the option. It may not be something “normal” or it might be. But whatever it is, it probably speaks to something else in you — something, just maybe, worth exploring. It might not be a definition, but it might be a good place to explore a potential starting point.