May 28, 2007

What Do You Want to Be When You Grow Up?

My girlfriend recently gave up a job as a principal at a well-known design firm to start her own jewelry business, and it made me start thinking about how we decide what we want to be when we grow up.

It used to be that you could graduate from high school, go to college and somehow have some semblance of what you wanted to do for the rest of your life. And then again, maybe this notion has always been a farce, since it seems like more and more baby boomers are experiencing mid-life career changes than ever before (including my own mother). So if parents and grandparents are struggling with their career choices, just how are young adults supposed to traverse their own rugged, winding trail of career options?

The truth is I got lost on some of the switchbacks in my own career trail. I thought I knew what I wanted to be when I grew up, but as it turned out, this kept changing. First, it was a singer. I tried that on for size, and it wasn't half bad. However, I felt like there was something more for me. What that "more" was I couldn't tell. Then, it was various roles in business that taught me even more about what I needed in a job. And this cycle kept repeating for quite some time, as I hopped from job to job trying to better define my "dream career."

It wasn't until my thirties that I felt I had enough clarity to really decide what I wanted for my life. The one thing that I can honestly say I did was follow my heart. As soon as something felt wrong, I started working on the next stage of the game. More than anything else, I think this was the truest measure of the direction I needed to take. But just how do you figure out what your heart wants? I put together a list of questions that I used to ask myself in case it could be of any help to others in the same quandary.

  • What do you enjoy about your current job?
  • What do you like to do in your spare time?
  • What are you good at?
  • In what areas do people ask you for advice (i.e. in what areas do others consider you to be an expert?)?
  • What do close friends and family see as your talents?
  • What do/did you dislike about current/previous jobs?
  • What are your life goals?

Regarding this last question, if you don't know what your life goals are, then, it's time to start thinking about them. Your life goals will define what you want to accomplish with your life, and may help you figure out what career could facilitate meeting all your expectations. Go to our website to get a free copy of our Dream Explorer E-Course , which will help you define your personal goals. Otherwise, you can just start making a list of things you want to do or accomplish during your lifetime.

Next time we'll cover the issue of money and career changes, which I'm sure was somewhere in the back of your mind. It's used to be in the back of mine as well.