Tuesday 7 September 2010

The Big Questions: 'So what do you do?' and 'So where are you going to?'

I've been asked the big questions 'So what do you do?' or 'So where are you going to?' many times recently and I've given a variety of answers to people and gauged their reactions. Some people are confused or even baffled, others are genuinely excited. To be honest it's almost impossible to answer but I will give it another try.

Meeting people for the first time it's quite common well pretty inevitable to be asked 'What do you do?'. It helps figure out the person, their income, tastes, morals, attitudes and various other things really quickly. It allows us categorise and assess compatibility based on what we already know about people in that profession or ask further questions if we find it a particularly interesting field.

For me I've always loved that question as I could say something, in my mind anyway, that was quite cool along the lines of 'I work in digital marketing, you might have seen some of the work we recently did with Meerkats/Halo/O2/BT...'. Generally they would have come across some of the work and it would be easy to strike up a conversation about the world of marketing, Mad Men, or some of the brands I'd worked on.

Equally when people leave their jobs, friends will naturally ask 'So where are you going to?'. It's a great way to see if they are moving up the career ladder, if they will be heading a competitor or if it's worth asking for an introduction at their new place.

Again this has been an easy question to answer as I've always been very proud of and excited about the agency or organisation I was about to move to. And often my friends have too.

But now it's a little tricky to answer. Now when I meet new people or bump into friends that have found out I'm leaving my job, I'm struggling to explain what I'm doing and where I'm going.

An easy answer is 'Im going to travel the world', but that's not the whole truth. When one poor guy asked me what I was doing and I said 'Nothing really' it sort of killed the conversation dead, although he did go on to point out that it's strange how we try to define people by their job, a very good point.

So what DO I do now that I don't (after 10th Sep) work for an agency or organisation? Well the truth is that I am doing lots of things and not very much at the same time.

The reason that I've been stashing as many pennies in the piggy bank as possible for the last few years was to give me the financial oxygen that will allow me to enjoy our most precious commodity, time. Time to do whatever I want, time to explore life, time to reassess the direction I'm going in, time to learn new about new things.

So I guess as a very loose label I could give myself the grand title of Life Explorer as that's really what I'm doing, well at least until the money runs out.

In my new job as a Life Explorer I intend to do all the things that I struggled to do holding down office based jobs. Things such as:

  • spend more time with my family and friends, 
  • learn one or more languages,
  • take up some new hobbies, 
  • go sailing, 
  • get really fit, 
  • explore and test some of those business ideas that I've bounced around, 
  • invent things,
  • write,
  • compose music,
  • make a short film,
  • try different sleeping patterns, 
  • avoid rush hour commuting, 
  • get setup to work from anywhere, 
  • declutter my life by getting rid of all the unnecessary junk, 
  • worry less, 
  • enjoy what I have more, 
  • travel for longer than 2 weeks at a time, 
  • meet and spend time with inspiring people,
  • give something back,
  • do nothing if I feel like it,
  • and anything else that comes into my head.

Ultimately I do want to end up with a successful business as that's always been one of my life goals and I don't want to totally run out of money. I'll probably continue with some consultancy work if it doesn't eat too much time, but the point is that I now have a chance to start living life to the maximum just like lots of other people I know have done.

So what do I do? Well I'll still be a digital marketing specialist as required, but if there must be an accurate label then I guess I'm a Life Explorer, that's the best I can do for now sorry.

And where am I going to? Who knows! Right now I'm not sure, and I quite like it that way. I really believe that adding a big dose of randomness into life can only be positive and mind-opening. It's already starting to lead me in directions that I couldn't imagine, and wherever I end up heading, I do know that it's going to be an exciting and educational journey.

If you'd like to see what happens to me on my journey over the next few months then please subscribe to the blog over on the right. Hopefully I'll be able to give you some tips on living your life to the maximum  as I learn how to do it myself.


  1. Hey this post totally resonates. Nothing kills a conversation faster then a response of "nothing much just stuff" to the what do you do question.

    You almost feel ashamed that you've decided to take control of your life. Keep going - I'm sure it will all work out!

    Anh - http://www.smallthingsfirst.com

  2. It's quite funny actually Anh, I thought I has cracked the strategy but even now I still get caught out and end up trying to explain that I'm not inbetween jobs or freelancing! Ah well :D

    What does seem to work is just ignoring the question and then talking about what you're interested in. Then asking the other person about what they're interested in instead of what they do. It throws them and they usually end up having a much more fascinating conversation than they expected :)