What do you want to be when you grow up?

A question that is all too familiar for most. You may have been asked this when you were young or even asked a child this question to start innocent conversation. School teachers are known to set this as an assessment to their students, as I’m sure most of you have laughed at a poster with all your future career aspirations written in your 7 year old handwriting.

But the truth is – some of us still don’t know what we want to be even when we are “grown up.”

There is a quote by John Lennon that depicts the answer of what we should be focusing on when prompted with this question:

“When I was 5 years old, my mom always told me that happiness was the key to life. When I went to school, they asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up. I wrote down “happy.” They told me I didn’t understand the assignment and I told them they didn’t understand life.”

In the ever changing world we are currently living in, gone are the days where one would stay in the same job or with the same employer for their entire career. Businesses, trends, education and technology are constantly re-structuring our labour market. Without the help of a crystal ball it would be impossible to expect children and students to know exactly where their career success leads – yet society puts so much pressure for them to choose “the right” degree and electives all through school.

So, what should we be asking children, students, and even ourselves when we want to discuss, reflect or challenge what we want to be?

  • Tell me about your favorite subject in school and your least favorite.
  • What does success look like to you?
  • What activities do you enjoy doing?
  • What are three things that are important to you?
  • Describe yourself in three words.
  • How would your friends and family describe you?

Understanding your own beliefs, values, strengths, and weaknesses is the foundation to allow you to lead a fulfilled, meaningful and successful career path.

Decide the person you want to be and then spend your whole life doing that in a whole range of fun, exciting, challenging and sometimes exhausting jobs. You may end up in a role you didn’t even know existed having the time of your life!

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