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Tough Question No. 2: What Are You Doing With Your Life?

Many of us have felt the effects of the worsening economy, so if you've lost your job as a result, I bet one of the questions you'll be asked this Thanksgiving will be what you're planning on doing now. Not only can that question be invasive, but it can end up making you feel even worse about your situation than you already do. To see my suggestions on how to answer that uncomfortable question,


  • If you are in fact unemployed, as annoying as it may be to talk about (let alone think about), it's always a good idea to let as many people as you can know that you're looking for a job. They could be privy to an opportunity or they might be able to point you in the right direction.
  • Know that you don't have to have an answer to this question, and if you don't, be honest and say just that — sometimes change takes a little soul searching.
  • If your family members keep at you, politely ask them to back off. Tell them that you don't have all the answers right now but when you do, you'll be the first one to let them know!
  • Use interviewing as a distraction, or tell them you're researching new careers. Sometimes all they really want to know is that you're actively looking for a new job.

Have any of you had to answer a question similar to this one? If so, what approach did you use?


Join The Conversation
hockeygirl08 hockeygirl08 8 years
I always give some joke answer like "Sex, drugs and rock and roll baby!" stick out my tongue and pretend to play air guitar. Then I say "I"m working, going to school, and just doing my thing. I'm really happy. How are things with you?" Of course looseseals answer of "I killed the president of paraguay with a fork. How have you been?" is much better. haha
GScott86 GScott86 8 years
"I don't know, what are you doing with yours."
looseseal looseseal 8 years
The movie Grosse Point Blank has the best answers for this question: "I killed the president of paraguay with a fork. How have you been?" "I'm a professional killer." CaterpillarGirl's "off meds and feeling homicidal" answer is pretty awesome, too. Oh, I just thought of another one: "If I tell you, I'd have to kill you." Basically any response having something to do with killing is instant gold. To be serious though, I'd use it as an opportunity to market my business. Either they'd be interested and that'd be good for business, or they'll learn never to ask again on pain of getting a sales pitch. Heehee.
WeTheLiving WeTheLiving 8 years
The most annoying question ever! You feel bad enough if you're not where you want to be career-wise, you don't need people reminding you every time you see them, and especially not on a day you're supposed to be enjoying!
CreateMagic CreateMagic 8 years
Whether its a good thing or not, my family is EXTREMELY close. They all know exactly what's going on in my life at all times, because if one person knows, the rest of the fam knows within a few days. Literally. But they've all got good intentions, and its kind of nice that they all scan the papers for job openings in my field for me :)
AlexE70 AlexE70 8 years
I usually just tell people I'm still working towards my Masters and generally just enjoying life, taking each day as it comes with no major plans. They usually don't ask again after that. Family on the other hand, I usually tell to bite me. ;-)
momma-tikita momma-tikita 8 years
I love that whiplash! How about a simple.."none of your fucking buissness". I can't stand nosy people, I know they aren't ignorant and knowing you'll be uncomfortable with that question they still ask you?! honestly!!!
WhatTheFrockBlog WhatTheFrockBlog 8 years
I just saw this on and it cracked me up.
bluesteyes bluesteyes 8 years
I think people who are married get this questions from their in laws. I really do think your in law family can never be your family anyway. They're so kind to me which i'm grateful but no way I would spend time alone with in laws, i think these people can say things when my husband isn't there to suss stuff out or sometimes to hurt me (my mother in law can be really difficult and so far people have told her already), on one hand she's absolutely wonderful to us, but on the other hand she judges everyone (my sis in law and I both know this well). I am always suspicious of anyone saying I get on great with my in laws, I really do, none of my mates get on with their husbands' mums.
Kat-E Kat-E 8 years
Oh man, I quit my job a week before I went to a wedding for 2 friends I hooked up - one my high school friend and another my college friend, making it a big high school/college reunion - and I got this queston A LOT. I did a lot of talking about other aspects of my life, like my great relationship and friends, and tried to get away from the question as quickly as possible haha.
GScott86 GScott86 8 years
Turkey Herder...this year I'll respond by saying I just got a job as a Shepard specializing in Turkey Herding. :-D, When someone finds the reason why family has a need to know every detail of what you do with your life, please let me know :).
pippins_halfling pippins_halfling 8 years
"Moving to Ireland to become the muse of an unknown band." That is what I am doing with my degree when I graduate. :P
macchiatolove macchiatolove 8 years
haha, I'm currently completing my masters, looking at possibly doing a PhD and even studying overseas. People learn not to ask me that question unless they want to hear all the intricacies of organising all of this stuff!
pink-elephant pink-elephant 8 years
God! That sounds like EVERYONE in my family! and lucky me I get to be asked this question AGAIN over christmas!!
bastylefilegirl bastylefilegirl 8 years
I'm sure since the people that may be asking the invasive question is probably a member of you family, I would be less "gentle" with my response. I would tell someone who asked me that I'm looking as with the housing market and wall street the job market in my particular field is slow however I do have other experience do you think there are any jobs open at your company. I would also have resumes ready. Hey if they are going to ask about my job they should be willing to assist in getting you one!
krae85 krae85 8 years
I get this every christmas and I consider for a few moments whether I should just show them the finger and walk away but that wouldn't be very nice, would it? I just grin and bear it, and talk to them as little as possible, gah those people are such a-holes...
lily3484 lily3484 8 years
dreading this...and the when are you two getting engaged question!!!!!
GScott86 GScott86 8 years
LoL, can't wait till Thanksgiving, o boy. I'll just avoid everyone. All I'm doing with my life is looking for a job and trying to figure out how to get a MA/MS/MPA w/e, and pay for all the bills that will pile up soon. Hahah, screw family and their prying :-P.
aprilmayjune4 aprilmayjune4 8 years
I have a condescending cousin who asks this. There are only six years between us, but she treats me like I'm eight. Luckily, she thinks our side of the family is poor and so she visits only once a year, for Christmas, when my grandmother gives envelopes with money inside out to everyone. I need to say something like, "Oh, it's so good to see you! Did you come for your envelope?"
le-romantique le-romantique 8 years
Families are really rude to one another. Everyone has that aunt that is like "Wow, you really got fat since the last time i saw you", and yes, they say it that bluntly/rudely. My family, in particular, is really into business and money.. so as you can imagine, all they talk about it what all us "youngins" are gonna "do with our life." If anyone asked me "what are you doing for/with the rest of your life" or something to that extent, i would go on forever, as you can see in the majority of my comments here, i like to talk. Unlike most people my age, or any age for that matter, i saw this coming and decided to stay in school. Now taking an online masters degree and interning (soon working) a paying job, as well as getting housing loans, I'm actually at my financial best. I'm planning on attention a huuuuge Thanksgiving soiree with my entire maternal-side of the family... because they all live in Florida (minus my immediate family and uncle.) Anyway, to answer their question, i would tell them i'm either working a spring internship or getting a job at the company im interning with now would be my answer to my family, but they all find my life more interesting than theirs anyway since i've always been involved in the entertainment industry... So It really isn't a burden if they ask, say- over thanksgiving dinner... But if it was my fathers side of the family... that is a different story because they don't understand the entertainment industry.
bluesteyes bluesteyes 8 years
Anyway my mother in law is just sitting there and does nothing so what's the problem? It's not like I do nothing all day, I go after big clients and I get them (not always but most of the time I do when I persist), what does she know about running a business? Really what does she know? She thinks she's not rich when she lives in a massive house! Oh god..don't let me start on this, I love my small house, our life in the city together, we do art, we do shit load of interesting stuff, we mingle, shut up pleasezzzzzzzz
bluesteyes bluesteyes 8 years
Oh this is a killing question! lol, I reply stuff, you know here and there. I don't think it is any business how well my business is doing. My other half usually says well actually she does this and that for me. I think he feels it as much as I do, he runs a business also. Anyway both of us are fine! It's nobody's business how much we have and how much we freaking spend!
geebers geebers 8 years
Ok it is one thing to ask "What do you do" or "What's next" if someone just graduated or something- but to ask "What are you doing with your life" is the most condescending question I have ever heard. It is way more insulting to me to have to answer than "are you dating" or "when are you getting married?"
melizzle melizzle 8 years
:rotfl: CG.. now I have a plan for the in-laws.
MeggyPoodles MeggyPoodles 8 years
Marni, I am in that situation right now! uuuggghh I hate it. I graduate college in about a month and EVERYONE wants to know what my plans are. Am I really suppose to have my whole life/career mapped out at age 22? It is just a constant reminder that I have no FREAKIN' clue what I am doing with my life, lol. I tend to always answer completley honestly - that I just don't know!
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