September is a time when we put away the sunscreen and get back to the “business” of life. During this time, it’s easy to fall prey to the popular concept in our culture of defining ourselves by what we DO.   Walk into any elementary school classroom and you’re bound to hear the question, “What do you want to be when you grow up?”   Go to a dinner party and you will hear adults introduce themselves by their jobs.   We have to ask ourselves, when did we buy into the idea that what we do for work defines us?

Too often in my coaching practice I come across adults who are unhappy.   Often they are burnt out.   Other times they are feeling little balance and no sense of joy or purpose.  It’s as if something is missing, even though they have what most would define as “success.”   Also, most have such an emphasis on career that they have little time or life force left to do anything else.  When I started my practice 15 years ago my solution was to help everyone change their job to match their passion.    I have been fortunate in my adult life that I have always had jobs that aligned with my deeper calling.   But soon I realized that having a job that matched your passion was easier said than done, for many.  Then it hit me.  The point was not necessarily to change one’s job.  The point was to liberate ourselves from the concept that our passion must be our career.   Today I tell my clients that we do not need to have our JOBS be our passion.   What we need is to have our LIVES express what it is that we are passionate about.

Take my client Mindy.  Mindy owned a company and was very successful.  She made a good living and had the things that went along with it – but she lacked fulfillment.  She had achieved her goals, but felt something was missing.    We worked to expand her definition of success.   We explored the things she could bring to her life outside of work that she valued which would bring her joy and passion.   Soon she found herself doing meditation, playing the piano, traveling, taking cooking classes, and initiating going to concerts and doing more with friends.  Suddenly her LIFE looked totally different, even though we did not change a thing about her job.

When we see ourselves as our work, we tend to judge our whole life by it.   We need to let go of this mindset that we ARE what we do.  Imagine how the world might change if instead of asking kids WHAT they wanted to be when they grew up we asked them WHO they wanted to be!  Most of you reading this are not kids, but the good news is that it’s not too late to change your mindset.


  1. What is missing? Ask yourself, “What do I love to do, but I am always making excuses that I don’t have enough time to do it?
  2. Break those items down. Travel is a great example.  Most of my clients want to travel more.  But they get stuck thinking travel needs to be a two week vacation to Europe.  Travel could mean a day trip, a weekend in your area, or packing up the family and going camping.
  3. Commit to action. Pick one thing above that you’d like more of in your life.   Look for ways at work and at home to be more efficient, so you can carve out just TWO HOURS in your week.   Now experience it, and realize how simple it is to create joy in your life.

As always I’d love to hear how you’re putting this advice into action.  Leave a comment on the Facebook post that contains this blog and let us know what you’re up to!

If you’d like to have a partner to help you identify these types of issues and develop a detailed plan with accountability, sign for a complimentary coaching session today.

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