Whether you are focused on the “do” or the “be” and no matter what age you are, if you are trying to figure it all out, you’re on the right path.
Remember when you were a kid and you were asked that question? I do. Today, it is just as exciting to hear someone ask one of my kids that same question. There is just something about that question that lays the whole world at your feet and makes anything sound possible.
The problem seems to be that it is thought of solely as a childhood consideration. Sure, the concept comes up again as you get a little older, but the context is not quite the same. You may ask a recent graduate what the next step will be or a person who is entering the job market what their focus will be, but those questions never quite invoke the limitless possibilities than does the question of, “What do you want to be when you grow up?”
I wonder why. Is it the time element of the question? When you are older, the “grow up” portion of the question tends to drop off so that may be it. It may also be that when you ponder the question as a child, you think of it in its’ truest sense without putting any limitations on your thought process. My last guess is that the word “be” is heard literally as an adult and translated as the word “do” when you are a child. As an adult, you know that what you do is not necessarily what you are.
Either way, I think the question has a place in your head regardless of your age or the quantity and type of limitations you may perceive.
If you are reading this and you are fortunate enough to be doing what you wanted to do when you grew up, congratulations! I congratulate you further if you are also the person that you wanted to become!
Please take a moment and give some thought as to how you would describe the path that you took and then go share it with people who will benefit from that knowledge. You can be a first-hand witness to the fact that you actually went out and made it happen, it did not just happen to you.
If you are one of those people who are not doing what they want to do and are not the person you would like to be, please consider the possibility that you have the power to change what you do and the ability to become who you would like to be.
From a personal standpoint, I can tell you that I am doing what I wanted to do from a pretty young age. My exact answer may have changed slightly from when I was really little, but I knew early on that I wanted to be in the financial business. I also figured out that I wanted to be part of a team, that I enjoyed working with numbers, and that I appreciate the opportunity to express myself through work whether it be through presentations, writing, or generally interacting with others. I love to strategize and we have already clearly established that I enjoy making decisions.
I am going into some detail here because I want to make the point that these aspects are present in many more jobs and vocations than just the one I currently have, which speaks to perhaps a greater availability of chances and a better opportunity to find the right fit than what would have been the case had I focused too narrowly on a specific industry or
If you feel as though you are struggling to figure out what you want to do, make a list of things that you enjoy doing without trying to categorize them or label them. Make that list as inclusive as you can and then study it to see if any common threads develop that will help you to more clearly identify a role that may better suit you.
It might also be helpful to set your worries or concerns on the side for a minute. It is nearly impossible to derive the full benefit from your thought process if your mind is cluttered with your worries about money, or status, or time. It is also very easy to kill creativity with your real world problems. The value of the exercise is found in allowing yourself to dream a little bit, to consider the possibilities in a way that brings you back to the clarity of your thought when you were a child and not yet influenced by the complexities of life.
You may consider having a conversation or a series of them with someone who you admire. Just about everyone has an interesting story to tell and you will almost always learn something when you ask them to tell it. Often times, you can apply some of what you learn to your own life and decision making going forward.
The goal is not to figure it all out right away. The goal is simply to put yourself in a position to better understand where you are and how you might get to where you really want to be. If you can do that, then you are on your way. You are becoming more open to the possibilities that lie ahead and determining how you might best capitalize on those opportunities.
Being who you want to be is a little tougher than doing what you want to do. While I am absolutely doing what I enjoy doing and want to be doing, being who I want to be is a continued work in progress. I always feel that there is room for improvement and I try to make it a point to learn from my past experiences in order to continue my development as a person.
In the meantime, I derive comfort from the fact that I am enjoying the journey and following my own path. Whether you are focused on the “do” or the “be” and no matter what age you are, if you are trying to figure it all out, you’re on the right path.
This article is part of Scott Arney's educational series, entitled The Serial Decision Maker.