Fun fact: I worked in a human resources office for almost 4 years before I went full-time with my private practice.
With HR comes a lot of fun things, but a personal dislike of that job: handling job descriptions.
My hot take: job descriptions are boring. The language is dry, the formatting is tedious, and maintaining consistency between all of the different positions and different departments is tough.
But what about the utility of job descriptions? What are they meant to do?
They outline your job position. They list your duties and responsibilities. They keep you on track. They essentially outline your mission for your specific position and sets the expectations you’re meant to adhere to. It helps you to evaluate what’s most important in your job and how you’re meeting what you’ve been challenged with. It gives you meaning and purpose.
Well, I’ve got a gift for you. Are you ready for it? Here it is:
I am gifting you with the opportunity to WRITE a job description.
Are you excited yet?
You should be, because this will be the most important job description you will ever write.
Have you ever imagined what your job description would look like if it were based on your life?
What if you gave yourself a job description, but for your life and how you want to live it?
You might start seeing a conundrum here. There’s the job description you would like your life to emulate vs. the job description of what your life actually looks like. Maybe you want to have fulfillment and purpose in your life, but you're actually just drudging along and have a never-ending focus on life obligations that aren't any fun for you. And that can be a hard pill to swallow. It’s the push-and-pull of what you WANT to do in this life vs. what you are ACTUALLY doing.
So, what's the problem?
Have you ever had a job where your job description doesn’t match up with what you’re actually doing? Where you find yourself taking on a huge job task and you think, “this isn’t in my job description...". It's an uneasy feeling, right?
Now you get it.
This idea was born from a phrase I find myself using often with my anxious or depressed patients. I usually find that many of them have blurry personal boundaries and they expect to be everything to everyone else. So many of them say things like:
- I have to make sure he's not mad at me.
- I have to do her work or else it won't get done.
- I should make time for her or else she'll feel lonely.
- I have to make sure everyone is happy.
- I shouldn't be the reason someone is unhappy.
- I can't let him feel bad about himself.
- I'm the peacekeeper between all of my family members.
Know what I say to my clients every single time?
“THAT’S NOT YOUR JOB.”
It’s not your job to please others.
It’s not your job to put off your hopes and dreams because it inconveniences everyone else.
It’s not your job to let others walk all over you to avoid confrontation.
It’s not your job to make everyone else happy by foregoing your honest opinions.
It’s not your job to ensure everyone gets to live their best life at the expense of living yours.
So, now you're asking, "what IS my job?"
Back up. Instead, I want you to ask yourself, "what is my life's purpose and meaning? What fulfills me?" Whatever your answer is, that's your job. That's what you need to write down.
Everyone's job description will look different. The end goal of this exercise is to have a "job description" that outlines 1) what values you want to live by, 2) what fulfills you and how to show that to the world, and 3) what makes you proud of the person you are.
Some ideas to start you off.
Here are some examples from my own personal “life job description”:
1) Live a life that represents the values my parents have always taught me.
2) Help every client who walks through my door and de-stigmatize mental health in my community.
3) Treat those close to me with kindness and display unwavering loyalty and encouragement.
4) Show others how to be authentically themselves at all times.
5) Minimize regret, maximize lessons.
Real talk: Have I always fulfilled some of these items on my job description? HA – no way.
My college partying antics definitely did not live up to #1.
#3 often has me toeing the line between being generous and subconsciously seeking approval.
#5 is a daily struggle sometimes, as my inner critic tends to pick everything apart.
So my challenge to you: Think about the job description you want for your life. Write it down. Make it a thing.
The point here is to not "fulfill" each of your "duties" on your job description at all times. Throw the idea of 24/7 adherence into the trashcan. What matters is that you identify these things, and then intentionally find opportunities to live by them.
That's all for now. Thanks for being here.
PS - If you feel like you've been focusing too much on everyone else and not enough on yourself, click HERE to grab my free people-pleasing guide! It'll teach you some of the nitty-gritty signs of people-pleasing that you may not realize, offers some space for personal reflection, AND provides some good tips (that you probably haven't heard before) on how to adjust behaviors that aren't serving you well!
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Greta Aronson, Licensed Professional Counselor
Greta manages her own private practice in Blue Springs, MO providing to therapy women who struggle with anxiety and perfectionism.
When she's not working, you can find Greta watching Big Brother with her husband or cuddling with their golden retriever.