“So, what do you do?”

It’s one of the first questions we ask people when we meet them.

And we all know they’re asking about work.

We ask kids, “What do you want to be when you grow up?” And we mean work.

We ask our spouses and our friends, “How was your day?” And we mean work.

This is such an interesting time to be thinking about the concept of work and the way we explicitly and implicitly define it and ourselves. We live in a system where a job can give or take a lot from people – pride, power, boredom, money, connection, security, challenge, belonging.

Even words like “essential” vs. “non-essential” and “skilled vs. unskilled” are entering the public conversation as COVID-19 changes work for so many.

The official definitions…

Skilled vs. Unskilled: In a very technical definition, the distinction between these is typically educational requirements for a given position. At the core of that is a frame of how quickly someone can learn these skills/job duties and be fulfilling the job in its entirety. All jobs are on a continuum of ramp up times and “skill levels.”

Essential vs. Non-Essential: Essential typically ladders up to food, energy, money, health, safety and/or transportation. These are considered such big cogs in the life we’ve constructed that they cannot stop. Non-essential is where the “everything else” gets lumped together.

But the names really don’t capture the nuance of these labels.

Jobs that we put into the “unskilled” bucket can be and are still – difficult, demanding, important and hard work! Professionalism, talent and experience still matter in these roles.

Jobs and industries that we may call “non-essential” for policy decisions can still be a cultural heartbeat and an important source of joy, service or work for others. They matter.

This has never been more apparent.

This new sudden shift is also prompting personal reflection. Whether your workload has changed or you’re at home facing your own thoughts more than usual, our ideas around work and priorities are being challenged. Some of us have less time now. Some have more. Many are faced with tough choices from a furlough or layoff.

“We are experiencing, for the first time, the collision of our many roles—worker, partner, caretaker, parent, child, friend, teacher, CEO and CFO of our personal lives—all in one place.” – Esther Perel

So, how do we balance the significance of work with the truth that work also isn’t everything?

We’re excited to be launching a new five part series for individuals to explore their goals and confront their ideas about what work can and should be. In this series, we’ll be blending the tactical toolkit from our career coaching with the networking and connectedness of a Newaukee experience. Full and partial scholarships are available.

For those who prefer 1:1 support, our free resume reviews and 1:1 coaching options are open for online booking.

Stay well,

The Newance + NEWaukee Team

Written by Amanda Daering, CEO of Newance


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