What do you want to “be” when you grow up?
I have written about this in previous posts, but this concept has been bothering me for some time now. What has been bothering me you ask? Well, the answer to the question I pose in the first sentence of this article is a bear trap, isn’t it? We ask everyone this question at some point in life. Our teachers asked it, our parents asked it, our friends asked it and as we got older and realized that we weren’t living up to our self-imposed expectations, we started asking ourselves that question all over again. Truth be told, I wasn’t ever clear on how to answer this question. Something didn’t feel right about the answers I came up with and more honestly, I never had any clear cut view on what I wanted to “be” when I grew up and I wonder how many people feel the same way?
What do you want to “be” when you grow up?
I am looking at this question from a different angle and have applied some of my recent coaching to see if it makes sense and here is what I’ve come up with. When we have this question asked of us or we ask it of someone else, aren’t we asking the question so we better understand or plant the seed with someone relative to what “job” they might have as adults? That is counter-intuitive to me, because when we get jobs and “grow up” then most of us start fantasizing about ways to not have those jobs anymore and we may begin to look for ways, mid-career, to become something new or refresh the current job we have. In short, I think asking this question implies that we have one choice to make and we should stick by that choice, which doesn’t seem to be plausible in the real world. I want to change the answer paradigm when this question is posed, because if I don’t want to answer this question, even today, how can I expect young children to answer it (and fully understand the implications of those choices). I’m learning what I really want to “be” when I do grow up, but “growing up” doesn’t have to imply that we have to anchor down and stop developing and dreaming. Let’s be careful to not answer the question of what to “be” with professions, job titles, and monetary plans. I think I have finally realized why I couldn’t remember wanting to be anything when I was growing up? I didn’t like having to answer with a job title because it felt to constraining.
What do I want to “be” when I grow up?
I want to be relaxed. I’d like to be a traveller. I want to be nomadic with experiences, but rooted in one community. I want to be a teacher (and it doesn’t have to be in a classroom) and I want to be able to make choices, learn from them, adjust life when needed and never lose the spirit to make new ones. Those are the things I want to “be” and those answers wouldn’t have gone over well in my 11th grade career counselling session. Answering this question with; Doctor, Dentist, Janitor, Recruiter, Salesperson only sets us up to get pissed in the future. I have realized that I want to “be” more involved in life, but when I was growing up (as most of us probably experienced), I thought you had to answer that question with a title (and falsely assumed that this title would unlock doors to the things I really want to “be”). That’s where we are wrong. As I’ve learned, balance is a choice we make every day and it’s no different when you choose what to “be” in life. The sad part, we don’t teach people real options for what constitutes being something. I think we are teaching people backwards and we are teaching them that a job is what will define them and is the only option to have what they might want out of life. We try to say “pick a profession” because it will help give you certain things and although there is some truth to that, I’m starting to believe that you could choose what you want out of life and then build plans and make life choices that afford you your “be”ing (relaxation, compensation, cultural experiences, etc).
Spend some time thinking about what you want out of life from the perspective of experiences and then work to build a plan that enables you to achieve those things. Don’t get hung up on what you do for a living as most of us do, just do whatever it is you do so that you can find the deeper and more powerful aspects of living life and it might help you in the long run.