6 Things That Define You More Than Your Work

BY Katie Medlock TIMEJune 22, 2016 PRINT

“What do you do?” may be the most common follow-up question to “What is your name?” when meeting someone new. Perhaps our responses make for good small talk, but even in more sincere exchanges we talk about our professions as if they are an extension of our innermost identity.

For some, this may certainly be the case, as deeply connecting with your career can be wonderfully fulfilling. Yet, there is much more to us than just what we “do” for a paycheck. If you have been having a difficult time reconnecting with your identity outside of your 9-5, remind yourself that the following aspects also make you whole:

1. How You Treat Other People

LUBIMOVKA, UKRAINE - MARCH 04:  A Ukrainian soldier inside the Belbek military base gets an affectionate pet from a woman who was among approximately two dozen who spent the night outside the gate in support of the men on March 4, 2014 in Lubimovka, Ukraine. Tensions at the base, where between 300 and 400 Ukrainian soldiers are stationed, were high overnight as a 4pm deadline the day before reportedly given by Russian troops for the Ukrainians to surrender passed and the troops feared the Russians might attack the base overnight. Many of the soldiers have family that live in apartment blocks just outside the base and about two dozen family members braved the cold ready to block the road to the base entrance should the Russians appear.  (Photo by Sean Gallup/Getty Images)
(Sean Gallup/Getty Images)

My most strong worldview is that all of the problems we encounter in our communities boil down to how we treat others. Practicing compassion toward the people around us and even making boundaries with others so we are also being compassionate with ourselves, transcends the limitations of the walls of our workplace.

2. What You Do to Create Happiness in Your Life

Perhaps working makes you happy. But, it’s probably not the only thing. What sets your soul afire? The things that excite us to the core or allow us to truly let go of the noise we encounter every day have an important role in our lives and in understanding ourselves.

 (AP Photo/Kamil Zihnioglu)
(AP Photo/Kamil Zihnioglu)

3. What Makes You Laugh

There’s nothing like belly laughing with wild abandon. What triggers our giggle fits, the way we laugh and how often we embrace it speaks volumes about who we are. Especially if we are faced with serious situations day in and day out, reminding ourselves to partake in a carefree cackle is most highly important.

4. How You Treat Animals and Nature

Mahatma Gandhi is credited with saying “The greatness of a nation can be judged by the way its animals are treated.” This can be said about Mother Nature in general and individualized for our own self-reflection. What parts of the natural world do we revere? What actions do we take to make sure we are treating it well? These traits help us understand ourselves and our station as beings who share the Earth with others.

(Jonas Vincent/Unsplash)
(Jonas Vincent/Unsplash)

5. Your Most Important Core Values

What knee-jerk reactions do you feel when you hear about a wrongdoing? Is it dishonesty, selfishness or passing the buck that offends you to your core? Conversely, what actions do you admire—togetherness, personal responsibility, creativity? Deep down we each hold many values dear, which all help shape us to become the people we are today.

6. Your Impact on the World

If your time were to come to an end tomorrow, what parts of your legacy would make you feel warm and fuzzy? Considering how we will be remembered can help us with Scrooge-level transformations of character, but it can also shine a light on our best qualities. Engage in the activities you feel most positively impact the world around you.

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