Last week I stumbled across an article published in French (here it is, in case you are interested) titled “Find a verb of your life, not a profession but a verb” by Sarah Roubato. It sounded simple, yet genius!
The idea of finding a verb instead of a profession is especially relevant for those of us, curious about many things, not just one. It goes like this (here a short excerpt in my loose translation):
“There are people whose interests lie in different fields, who are capable of shifting their attention from one field to another, who know how to adapt to new contexts and how to find other ways of doing things. There’s something that makes their bifurcations logical – it’s their verb. If your verb is to help, you could be a lawyer, a doctor or a volunteer. Or do you want to discover (archaeologist, historian, chemist, biologist), to invent (engineer, magician), to express (writer, musician, artist) or to analyze (columnist, political analyst, sociologist)?”
If like me, you’ve already chosen your profession(s) and just searching for a new direction or a way of making sense of your many interests, finding your verb could be equally helpful.
I must say, I struggled a lot to come up with just ONE verb. Now that I’ve chosen not to define myself as one thing, why would I pick only one verb? So eventually, after jotting down a list of verbs, after crossing out and adding some new ones, I came up with two verbs that surprised me a little but made complete sense:
to tune in and to connect!
Tuning into situations, topics, surroundings, people in search of connection – that’s what I’ve been doing for as long as I remember. Being a choreographer and dancer, I tune in and connect to my own body, to the dancers I work with, to the people I teach and to the audiences I perform for; being a translator and language teacher I love tuning into the richness of the language that I use to the point that I can almost taste it, and it also allows me to connect with others.
These verbs do not define us – they just describe how we do things, rather than what we do. Just figuring this out gave me some understanding and clarity about why some things worked and brought satisfaction and some didn’t (for example, why it was so difficult to work with large groups of people as opposed to smaller ones, why regular self-promotion always felt so draining and seemed artificial etc.).
It could be that you don’t even have to think about it, you may already know your verb. But if you are still in search of one, try this:
- make a list of all the activities that you love doings professionally or as a hobby;
- next to each activity write as many verbs as you can think of about what makes this activity meaningful and special for you (e.g. learn, discover, connect, share etc.);
- Do any of those verbs repeat? Do they have something in common? Is there a pattern?
PS. And if like me, you can’t pick just one word right away, don’t worry! What is more important is that they make sense to YOU!