I recently took a weekend trip to Vermont with my boyfriend. We both live and work in New York City, so we often get the urge to escape the city and get out to nature (or anything far enough from tall skyscrapers and taxis honking their horns incessantly).
While we were there, we went hiking, kayaking, swimming, and basically just enjoyed being outdoors — It was definitely a much needed trip.
We rented kayaks from a local outdoor retail shop and the guy who had delivered the kayaks for us told us about how he lived in Manhattan for ten years and had recently moved back to Vermont a few years ago.
He told us about how his love for the outdoors outweighed the stress of living in the city.
My boyfriend and I immediately looked at each other and both thought the same thing — This sounded a lot like our situation and was very much relatable to our personalities.
He brought up the fact that in Manhattan, the common question upon meeting someone new would always be “So, what do you do?” whereas when you meet someone anywhere else outside of the city, the more common question was “So, what do you like to do?”
This realization hit me like a ton of bricks— In particular, because I’ve been asking myself this question a lot lately.
A lot of people tend to identify and attach themselves to what they do for a living.
Their job is ultimately who they are as a person.
In some [rare] cases, it’s because those people actually love what they do. Unfortunately, that’s not always the case for many people.
For many people, myself included, what I do for a living is not definitive of who I am as a person.
What I do outside of my 9–5 is much more meaningful to me and much more fulfilling.
What I do for a living is not what I like to do in life.
For me, work has become more of a means to an end; A vessel for building the kind of life that I want to live.
For others, work is just work. And that’s all there is to their lives.
If you honestly ask yourself the question of “What do you like to do?” rather than “What do you do?” then what would be your answer?
Would you be satisfied with your answer?
Does your answer bother you?
Do you feel content?
Is what you do the same as what you like to do?
Finding purpose in this world can be one of the most troubling goals to achieve.
And some of us may never find it.
However, if you truly do want to figure it out, then you can start by narrowing down the list.
Ask yourself what you like to do.
Write down the things that make you happy and the things that don’t make you happy.
Write down your skills, what you enjoy doing, and what kind of work-life balance you want to achieve.
Paint a picture for the kind of life you want for yourself.
Once you’ve done that, then your answer to “What do you like to do?” can eventually align with your answer to “What do you do for a living?”
Figuring it out is the hard part.
“Go confidently in the direction of your dreams! Live the life you’ve imagined” — Henry David Thoreau