For the unemployed, underemployed, or miserably employed, this simple inquiry "what do you do?" can trigger a downward spiral of negativity and self-recrimination as our Inner Critic starts the incessant diatribe about our worth, value, competency, capability as parent and/or provider, contributor, citizen, and even human being. In our modern American society, our work and our identity are tightly coupled. There has to be a way to respond to the question "what do you do" when we are in the midst of career transition that is positive, self-validating, and helpful. I believe there is.
In my work with men and women in career transition I have come to recognize a pattern of thinking, choosing, and believing that can be best described as "opportunity tunnel vision." Every day I see talented, experienced, good people simply choose a well-worn career path and not even recognize that they have alternatives. I do not think this is inevitable. I believe we can explore alternatives, make better and more creative choices, and enjoy longer-term well-being by taking the time and opening our eyes, mind, and heart to alternative career futures.
The average American will move 11.7 times in their lives and, interestingly, the average American will hold 11.7 jobs in their lives. While these broad-brush averages may not reflect the pattern of our individual lives, what it does say is that at some juncture we may find ourselves job seeking in a new geographical location.