How to answer the question that everyone dreads

Have you ever had an inspiring conversation that changes how you respond to a really common yet uncomfortable question?

This happened last week whilst hosting a retreat in Mayo. I thought it so valuable that I wanted to share it with you today.

The question is regarding what you do. Your “day” job and we get asked it ALL THE TIME…

“What do you do?”

Uggghhh, No matter what you say, you can see people judging and labelling you. Putting you into a box filled with assumptions and expectations.

When I used to answer with “I’m a life coach but I also teach mindfulness and meditation” people used to literally find ANYONE else at the party to talk to or they’d look for free coaching!

Thankfully that was 10 years ago and now people are much more comfortable to enquire more. However I am lucky, my job is my passion.

But what if it isn’t? What if your day job, like most people, is to pay the bills, fulfill responsibilities?

Do you ever find yourself answering this question while a part of follows us with – “I am not just what I do, that pays the bills, I am more than that, I am more than (insert job title here)”

Why do we define people by what they do?

Its societal, it’s human behaviour and it helps us to know what people do so we know how to communicate with them

But you’re right, you are more than what you do. So much more.

“It doesn’t interest me what you do for a living. I want to know what you ache for, and if you dare to dream of meeting your heart’s longing.

It doesn’t interest me how old you are. I want to know if you will risk looking like a fool for love, for your dream, for the adventure of being alive.”

As I read the words out after our morning meditation it sparked a conversation and an exasperation from everyone – why do people ask that question?

It’s probably a habit, and a way of making small talk, but the judgement and labelling is there.

Michelle shared her alternative response with us.

What she told us is a great way of answering the question and avoiding the rest….

“My day job is working in this company, but my passion lies in music and the performing arts”

What an incredible response!

We all gasped!

When you listen to that response don’t you find yourself thinking

“Oooh I want to ask her all about her passion

Doesn’t it open up a really interesting conversation? Instead of talking about your job you end up talking about what really interests you.

And if you’re not sure what your passion is you could say:

“I work in sales but what I’m passionate about is creativity. I’m currently exploring different avenues of expression which will hopefully lead to some new interesting hobbies for me”


“I work as an administrator in an office but I’m passionate about nature. I just love being in the outdoors.”

They are just some ideas for you. Make up your own or try different ones every time you’re asked.

I thought it so wonderful I wanted to share it with you and maybe you might use it you next time someone asks you that dreaded question!

If you do please do let me know how you get on, I’d love to hear. And thank you to Michelle for allowing me to share this.

Until next time


P.s. My new response is: “My passion is working with people to inspire and facilitate change, growth and empowerment”

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