Are You Your Profession?

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by Ryan

Over the course of your lifetime you’ll spend over 80,000 hours working. That’s nearly 10 years straight with no breaks. Think you have that kind of endurance 😉 You get the luxury of choosing where you’ll spend those hours so does that mean your choice reflects who you are as a person? Are you your job?

According to Tyler Durden of “Fight Club” you are not your job, but when you spend enough time in any situation it rubs off on you and becomes a part of you. If you’re in the military you become military minded, if you’re a doctor you see the world in a whole different light than if you’re a real estate developer. Professions give us selective perception since each profession creates a lens associated with the job. Not only that it creates association for all those we deem titles necessary (99.9% of the human race) and puts us into certain social circles based on who our co-workers and related vendors are.

What do Different Professions Say?

Each profession requires a different skill set, are these skills who we are? Are all accountants introverts who enjoy being left alone to crunch numbers? Are all cops and firefighters out there to save lives each day to the best of their ability? Different professions speak different languages and hold different views. An environmental scientist most likely will not become a full time logger. A nun will most likely not become a prostitute. Why not? Because these professions are not in line with who they are.

So each profession could say something about the person who does it, but does it say enough to judge the person at face value? I don’t mean judge in the shallow sense, but judge in the sense that we already know a bit about them and what they value.

If someone says that they’re a doctor what words pop into your head? Helping, hard worker, rich? How about if someone said web designer? Nerdy, trendy, artistic? Association happens for each profession because each profession is different. They also have completely different connotations based on societal norms, which are then placed on whoever accepts that profession.

Like it or not, your profession is your title, and your title is how others view you because they often have nothing else to go off of. Much like a Janitor could be called a custodial consultant, your title will affect how others perceive you and thus how you’re treated.

Are You Your Co-Workers?

At this point you may or may not agree that you are your profession, but let’s take this one step further. Are you your co-workers? If you spend 40 hours a week with someone I’m willing to bet they might rub off on you a bit. This also tends to be the case with your friends. If your co-workers complain a lot, you’ll probably start complaining too. If you’ve got a great boss, you may turn into one yourself. That’s why if you pick up a new job, the people you work with are just as important as the job itself. You can have the greatest title and position in the world, but if you absolutely hate your co-workers that job is going to suck big time. Should we then interview our future co-workers before we accept a job to save the hassle down the road?

I know that some companies have several of their staff interview the new candidate for this very reason. This has happened to me in a couple interviews. It makes it a bit more intimidating having five people interview you at once, but it also seems to create a greater feel for the organization as a whole. Personalities play a huge role in the cohesiveness of an organization and will play a significant role in who you become, therefore chose your co-workers carefully.

Dating by Profession Only

One of my buddies who’s visiting this week mentioned that he’s specifically interested in teachers or nurses as a potential girlfriend or wife. For work he’s a cop back in Wisconsin. His reasoning was that the profession one chooses says a lot about the person. For example teachers and nurses generally care for the well being of others and aren’t necessarily in their profession for the pay. At least on the surface they’re more interested in helping others and are more giving. These are the traits that he values most.

He went further and stated that he felt he’d have a harder time with a girl who was in business or possibly an attorney because their personalities would be different. I tend to agree with him and when I think of an ideal girlfriend I would be interested in one who values thinking outside the box, is self motivated, and enjoys new experiences. Therefore it wouldn’t be shocking to say I’d like to date an entrepreneur or someone in the business field. Do you choose your dates by profession, or is that a bit shallow?

Whether it’s dating, finding a new position, or simply telling someone what we do at a cocktail party our professions give others an insight as to who we are and what we’re about. What does your profession say about you?

What do you think? Are you your profession?

When dating do you look for certain professions?

Think about your closest co-workers, have they rubbed off on you at all?

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{ 27 comments… read them below or add one }

Mneiae March 18, 2010 at 3:46 pm

My profession is a student 🙂 But I’m between majors. Officially, I’m a business student considering triple majoring in accounting, finance, and international business. But as a result of several things that have happened recently, I’m rethinking what I want to do with my life. It’s in flux right now.

I don’t think that I would date someone just because they were in a certain profession. I’ve met enough teachers and nurses to know that they may have started out caring for others over money, but life happens and sometimes people change. Don’t tell me that you’ve never experienced a bitter teacher.

I’m a business student with dreams of starting a social enterprise. Will this happen? I don’t know yet.

I read a post a few months ago that lamented the fact that bank officers tended to be cold and heartless. The reason for that is that those are the only ones who make it into those positions. A quick weed-out of anybody who cares about others happens in the first 2 years of business school and the b-school dropouts head over to public affairs, where they can do things that are good for the environment or the community instead of raping the earth and plundering the pockets of the unsuspecting masses. The campus reputation of b-school students is that they would sell babies if they could make a profit.

I’m not like that and yet I am pursuing a business degree. Will I ever be a businessperson? I don’t know, but I was willing to give it a shot.

But the time has come to choose whether I want to spend 60-80 hours a week working for corporate America to receive large paychecks to spend on a mortgage and alcohol or choose a path where I don’t make money but am monumentally happier.

Little House March 18, 2010 at 4:17 pm

I have to agree with you that many people do become a part of their profession. However, people do change professions. For instance, I teach, but on the side I help my husband with his graphic and web business. I do care for the students I teach and want to make sure they learn as much as they can while they are my students. I guess that makes me a caring individual. But I also like being creative and trying new things. And I implement this in my teaching abilities too.

Perhaps some of us are just chameleons! 🙂
.-= Little House´s last blog ..Tuesday Tips =-.

Financial Samurai March 18, 2010 at 4:18 pm

There’s definitely stereotypes about people from different professions. Nurses and Teachers have currently positive stereotypes of caring and helping others.

Lawyers? Not so much.

Many of my co-workers are stinking rich, and sometimes it’s hard not to buy that fancy car, vacation home, or pay thousands to donate to a particular charity. But, it is what it is.

When are you starting your 30 days/ 30 nights initiative Ryan?


.-= Financial Samurai´s last blog ..Treat Your Job As If You Won The Lottery =-.

Wojciech Kulicki March 18, 2010 at 4:25 pm

I totally agree with the idea of stereotypes for professions, and the pressure society puts on us to be “something.” The second question at a party, after your name, is usually “What do you do?” I think how you respond tells a lot about you. And people will instantly judge you by it…

“I’m an architect,” for example, sounds much better than “I like to be creative.” But the latter describes me in a much more complete way.
.-= Wojciech Kulicki´s last blog ..How to Sell Your Car on Craigslist =-.

Simple in France March 18, 2010 at 11:33 pm

Initially, I wanted to just plain rebel against the idea that we are our professions.

But I’ve seen a few links:
–you’re likely to chose your profession based at least a little on your interests (I hope??) and so perhaps you can learn something about a person through his/her work that way.
–your profession can affect the way you look at things later. I was a teacher too for a long time and you learn a lot of interesting things: research about how the brain works, psychology, achievement gaps, why people have behavioral disorders. . . all kinds of stuff–whatever you know changes the way you view the world and the way you act within it.

I also have to admit that I found the fact that my husband had just switched from being a micro-engineer to first grade teacher absolutely adorable when I first met him . . . (because he did it to have more time to spend with people instead of more money–a value I like).

I guess I’m more shallow than I thought.

Jarrod@ Optimistic Journey March 18, 2010 at 6:51 pm

Personally I don’t look for certain professions or stereotypes when dating but I totally agree that what we do says a lot about us. Even if we don’t say it aloud there’s a reason why we’re passionate about something and it’s due to something deep down inside of us. Great post Ryan, keep them coming!
.-= Jarrod@ Optimistic Journey´s last blog ..The Benefit of Living an Optimistic Lifestyle =-.

The Simple Machine March 18, 2010 at 7:04 pm

Ryan I can see how people can start to become their profession. I think I have a sense of how this comes about.

When you forget to leave work at work (i.e. you talk about work outside) you start to lose sight of some of your other interests.

I think it is very important to maintain activities outside work, which are done even on weekdays not just weekends. I know a lot of people who if you were to guess their job, they would not fit the stereo types, because they have so much to talk about and don’t even have to bring up their work!
.-= The Simple Machine´s last blog ..Does working from home work? =-.

Alex March 18, 2010 at 9:26 pm

I am an entrepreneur and my portrayed personality is probably passionate. That one sticks out the most for me. I do believe though that each individual had a different personality. We might share similar interests and of course we will if we are in the same field, but in entirety our personalities and attractions are different. You can’t judge a book by its cover.
.-= Alex´s last blog ..The Virtue of Obsession =-.

harvestwages March 19, 2010 at 2:44 am

I agree Ryan,
Most of our personality lies in our profession. It like normal, judging others by their profession.
Most of my friends really can’t tell who i am, from what i do. May be because i do nothing permanently.
Yet, i believe our professions reflects our personalities.
.-= harvestwages´s last blog ..Success patterns that emerge – Guest post =-.

Investing Newbie March 19, 2010 at 4:03 am

I don’t think I am my profession and I don’t think that people are their profession. Unless we are talking about doing what you were “born” to do and no one knows that until they are on their deathbed. I am currently in a job because my employer felt I was qualified enough to do that. But I don’t identify my job as what I am. This could also be because I don’t see myself in this job forever…

I’m through with dating ;-). But that is interesting that your friend would look for specifically teachers or nurses. Isn’t that the same mentality golddiggers use when choosing their mates? I thought dating was about finding someone whose goals and thoughts aligned with yours… Maybe I’m wrong?

I believe people, in general, are infectious. I feel like I can go through 8 different sentiments when I hang out with different groups of people. My co-workers have rubbed off on me big time! And even you, even though we’ve never met!
.-= Investing Newbie´s last blog ..The Trade-In =-.

Moon Hussain March 19, 2010 at 4:11 am

I’m not so sure these stereotypes hold up. Nurses have a stressful job and can earn a great deal of money.

What if a good number of people are looking for the “Easiest professions”? You just never know. You could come across an abusive nurse or a harsh teacher.

I don’t k now, maybe you’re right–to a certain extent.
.-= Moon Hussain´s last blog ..Clash Of The Titans: Pros & Cons of Various Types Of Passive Income Streams =-.

Newbie March 19, 2010 at 4:14 am

I am an accountant and most people I meet are shocked to hear this. I am often told that I don’t fit the standard mold for accountants as I’m very outgoing, always up for a good time and I am very involved in my community, volunteering at local schools and being a co-chair for a social organization. While I have always known the stereotype for accountants are loners who tend to be introverted and possibly anti-social, I do not see this as being the norm for generation X and Y. My boyfriend is also an accountant and we go out to bars and clubs with his friends often.

I never considered that people date certain occupations, but after reading this I think it’s true. When I was dating I dated individuals with advanced degrees who were in specialized fields (doctor, lawyer, engineers, accountants, etc). After thinking about it I think these are individuals/ careers that show my values, as I put a lot of emphasis on education and hard work and people that have a drive to do something few others have achieved (these are not easy professions!).

Experimently March 19, 2010 at 5:55 am

When people are like their jobs, it might be time to take a break. It’s not all about the job, so don’t be your job either. Sure it might be extremely interesting, but as with everything.. there is such a thing as too much, it’s all about balance. Balance in everything (over a long period of time anyway). Balance between fun and work, even though both may overlap at times.

Kristine March 19, 2010 at 9:16 am

I agree. When you first meet someone at a party, what is one of the first questions that is asked? “So…what do you do?” It’s funny, but yeah, we are defined by our professions! I think the thing to remember is that how we respond to the typical stereotypes is what really matters.

My profession is a nurse. I recently stopped working to care for our first newborn child. When I tell people that I’m a stay at home mom (SAHM), they give me a “look.” 🙂 At first, I was offended, but then I remembered that how I am defined is not by someone else…it’s by me. Thanks for the article!
.-= Kristine´s last blog ..The 529 Plan – Get Educated on How To Save For College =-.

Monevator March 19, 2010 at 2:16 pm

Nurses are wonderful human beings in my experience, though they can be quite savage when they want to be. I think it’s a halo thing – you expect them to be perfect and to have the tolerance of a Saint, and they’re ultimately only human.

I could never date someone like me. I’d rather date a nurse any day! (Not that I’m all bad, I stress…)
.-= Monevator´s last blog ..Earn more money by tackling your mental beliefs =-.

Search Engine Viking March 19, 2010 at 2:37 pm

It’s funny you wrote about this, because I just had a conversation about this topic a couple of days ago.

When people ask “What do you do?” I say I’m an entertainer. They look at me really funny for a while then confusedly ask, “No, what do you do for a living?”

I’ve never associated what I do “for money” as what “I do.” I’ve managed to partition my life between the two. I realize I’m in the minority here, as most people either can’t or don’t want to do this.

Anyway, another great post!

Rock on

Boris March 20, 2010 at 12:03 am

People perceive us through different lenses: Where we were born, which our first language is, which our zodiacal sign is, our gender, our sexual preferences, our level of fitness, our profession, etc. To say that we are our profession is as precise as to say that we our the color of our skin. We are a rich mixture of multiple forces, however, we are free to act regardless of al those forces. A good way of knowing who we are is to see what we do day by day, not to ask for our profession.
All the best,
.-= Boris´s last blog ..Google Wave – An update =-.

LeanLifeCoach March 20, 2010 at 1:57 am

I can’t disagree with you entirely. But our professions are not always who we are. In a large corporate environment I worked we had many associates that never expected or wanted to be doing the job they had. Most liked what they did, they just never set out on that path.

Personally, there could not be more difference me and my job. By nature I am an introvert, by profession I am a facilitator, educator and consultant. I love my job though, I would almost be willing to pay for the opportunity but it is not the kind of role most introverts would seek.

Split personalities maybe?
.-= LeanLifeCoach´s last blog ..Combat The Closing Techniques – The Ben Franklin Close =-.

myfinancialobjectives March 20, 2010 at 4:08 am

I love this post. I have thought for years about how I would love to try differnt jobs for a few months, just to gain the perspective you gain from doing that.

I like this: “If you’re in the military you become military minded, if you’re a doctor you see the world in a whole different light than if you’re a real estate developer. Professions give us selective perception since each profession creates a lens associated with the job.”

I totally agree with that. I just finished a two week intense training period with the Navy performing SWAT movements, lot’s of shooting, etc., and I definitely can tell that I look at things slightly different now, and that was just two weeks…
.-= myfinancialobjectives´s last blog ..Warrant Buffett’s Humble Abode =-.

Jeremy Johnson March 20, 2010 at 6:12 am

My profession during the day is that of a web developer. While I find it interesting, I don’t have any friends that are really into web development as much as I am. Most people I find myself wanting to talk to nowadays are people who are looking to make big positive change in their lives, achieve financial abundance, or create their own website/business.
.-= Jeremy Johnson´s last blog ..The Insightful Valerie Mondesir =-.

MyFinancialObjectives March 20, 2010 at 2:53 pm

“I find myself wanting to talk to nowadays are people who are looking to make big positive change in their lives, achieve financial abundance, or create their own website/business.”

As am I Jeremy, it seems my friends of the past however many years have slightly different ideas as of right now.
.-= MyFinancialObjectives´s last blog ..Warrant Buffett’s Humble Abode =-.

bigjobsboard March 21, 2010 at 2:29 am

Nice post. Actually, I am dating a girl very far from my profession. She’s a singer and I am an engineer. LOL. Anyways, I also am a blogger but I can say that being an engineer is being my personality.
.-= bigjobsboard´s last blog ..Extra Cash at your free time / Earn from home by A =-.

youngandthrifty March 21, 2010 at 10:08 am

Interesting post and great discussion!

I think one can’t help but be associated with your profession. You live it and breathe it, and when you tell people what you do, the stereotypes can’t help springing up.

It’s like when you meet someone, you talk and talk, and then the question always comes up, “So, what do you do?”

Then you say ______ and then it’s either a deal breaker or deal maker.
.-= youngandthrifty´s last blog ..Carnival of the Young and Thrifty Edition #3 =-.

scottbarrononline March 21, 2010 at 6:15 pm

Yes, I was my profession. I was an underpaid, over stressed workaholic. My job was my life, which was exactly my plan. The successes at work fueled my life. The motivation I received from my coworkers lead me to work harder. 90% of my waking thoughts were about focused on work. What I didn’t get done, what can I do better, who else needs help, what more can I do.

Then I was fired! My new profession is unemployed! You mention dating? I have lots of free time now, but who wants an unemployed 42 year old? Saying I have potential is like saying I have a good personality, or the check is in the mail.

It’s sad to say, but we are defined by our jobs. I now shy away from the question, “What do you do?” Society tells us: employed = success & unemployed = failure.
.-= scottbarrononline´s last blog ..ONE campaign =-.

Roman Soluk April 29, 2010 at 4:00 am

I must say that my profession greatly influences my life, but I can’t say that I am my profession. It’s still a difference for me.
.-= Roman Soluk´s last blog ..Music and its impact on our life =-.

Darren June 4, 2010 at 7:55 am

I definitely agree about the quality of your coworkers. Working with people you get along well with makes a world of difference.

To a certain extent, I do think your profession defines who you are and what you’re trying to do with your life.

But for other people, they just do a job for the money, and don’t think as much about what they’re trying to accomplish. And still for others, they don’t define themselves by their job title, but have a bigger purpose for their life. They could flip hamburgers, but they’re using their time and money as a means to another end.

And somewhat related to your coworkers rubbing off of you, I heard it’s been said that your income is usually within a close percentage of the people closest to you. What you do guys think of that?
.-= Darren´s last blog ..Use Math To Alleviate Fear Of Stock Market Volatility =-.

Gregory July 2, 2010 at 8:54 pm

I think most people end up in a profession that does not use there talents. I’ve always tried to look at my strengths and weaknesses. I train all the time in many skills so that I can always have work as a freelance programmer and graphic artist. Always train and reinvent yourself when necessary.
.-= Gregory´s last blog ..What are Structured Settlement Brokers =-.

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