Human “Being” or “Doing” – Who am I?

A lot of people have asked me with shocked and puzzled look when I would tell them that I am retired and have been for a few years.  I am not sure if its because I don’t look like I have reached the acceptable age of retirement or if it’s because I am so comfortable with the word “retired”.

I should start with the definition of the word “retire”.  According to Merriam-Webster dictionary, one of the definition is “to stop a job or career because you have reached the age when you are not allowed to work any more or do not need or want to work any more.”  The next word to define is “work”.  Work to me sounds a look like labour and toil.  Therefore my definition of “retire” is to stop work (labour and toil) because I can and I want to pursue my passion which aligns with my purpose.  I knew that I wanted a change when work became more toiling than enjoyable.  I knew that if I did not make a change when I did, I would end up being someone I didn’t want to be, just drudging along life as life is short and precious.  I made the move in the traditional sense and wanted to see what the next stage of life has to offer.  So now I am in the midst of aligning and re-creating my vocation – I am a coach.  I am a coach because I want to inspire growth in others, to help them achieve their goals, to put into practical steps what they can do to break through barriers and to fulfil their potential.  So yes to me I am retired.  Retired from the labour and toil to aligning with my passion and purpose.

One of the tricky if not hardest question to answer when you are not “working” is “What do you do?”.  This is because for such a long time, I had defined who I was by what I was doing.  So I would say I am the Marketing and Business Operation Director at Microsoft.  Wow, sounds really fanciful and maybe even important.  But really what did it mean?  What do you do?  I am responsible for all the marketing activities and blah blah blah.  All of which made me think about a more important question that I needed to answer and  be clear about which was “Who AM I?”.

The “Who AM I?” question is one that goes to the heart of knowing and being confident and comfortable about being you, not being defined by what you do but for just being you.  To know the answer requires that one be honest about yourself, your strengths, your dreams, your passions and your goals in life.  To get to know yourself in a deeper way and imagine if everything is stripped away, who are you?  If you don’t define yourself with what you are doing, with what job title you hold, and how much things you possess, how would you answer the question.

I have the great blessings of having a number of Christian friends and one of the common attribute that they have is they would answer the question “Who are you?” with the first sentence as “I am a child of God.” followed by their personalities or what they are passionate about and so on.  That’s a great way to be rooted in belief.

Ask yourself:

  • What am I passionate about?
  • What are my values?
  • What’s my life purpose?  Can I describe in one or two words?
  • Is my work aligned my values and life purpose?

Just remember we are human beings and not human doings.  The heart of Human Being vs. Human Doing is to answer the question “Who Am I?”.


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