What should I be when I grow up?
What should I be when I grow up must be the biggest myth we fool our children with.
Sure there’s Santa, the Boogie Man and the Tooth Fairy, but those are mostly harmless. The biggest myth is the most harmful. It leaves students with unrealistic expectations and doesn’t help them focus on what truly matters.
I first remember being asked the age old question in second grade and about every year after that until I was in college. Of course by the time you are in college you HAVE to know what you want to do when you grow up… right?
There is always an aura of awkwardness when someone says “I’m an English major” and then someone replies “so…what are you going to do with that?”
In order to avoid this we begin to make up answers to make ourselves feel better.
What better way to fight a myth than with another myth?
“I think I want to be an investment banker, a consultant, or a brand manager”.
Or maybe you take the easy way out and just say you want to do what one of your parents does. “My dad’s a lawyer I guess Law School sounds cool?”
Please tell me, what exactly is the day-to-day role of an investment banker, consultant or lawyer? You probably have no clue.
Now I’m not saying we shouldn’t prepare students for careers, quite the opposite in fact. What I’m suggesting is that we stop focusing on the “what do I want to be” myth and focus on the things that actually matter.
1. Your strengths (what are you naturally good at)
2. Your interests (what things you like to do)
3. And your actions today.
The truth is your strengths, your interests, and what you do today matter in order to get to where you want to be tomorrow. Five year plans? Hah.
The world is changing so fast the jobs that are here today probably won’t be in 20 years. (or they won’t be recognizable in their current form)
The truth is there is never a day when you finally “grow up”.
Ask any successful or interesting person you know this question and they will probably tell you they still don’t know what they want to be when they grow up.
Your career path is something that unfolds everyday. The important thing is to not focus on hollow titles or job descriptions, but instead focus on what your natural talents are.
For example – I love helping others, coming up with new ideas and solving problems.
Figure out what you have to do today to put yourself in a better position to utilize your strengths and pursue your passions tomorrow.
The career path is a series of steps on a ladder. With each new step comes a new level of understanding that may have been hidden on the rung before.
Take one step today and you’ll be what you want to be tomorrow. Remember, you can own your career path.
So.. what do you want to be when you grow up?