I am prepared for lots of pushback on this post, so please feel no hesitation in reacting positively or negatively to my thoughts on this topic.
It starts with the simplest of questions that every child is asked as they grow up: what do you want to do when you grow up?
Yes, that is meant as a chance for a child to express his or her desires about the future and what interests their young minds, but I recently have been reflecting on that question and the type of pressure it applies to kids. Think about it, how many of you are into your adult years and still are not sure what your answer is? How many of us went to college and changed our major or even our college choice? And how difficult is it to deal with that pressure of having to admit you may have been wrong in your initial choice? My gut tells me we are asking the wrong question no matter when we ask someone what they want to do.
My life story serves as one of the reasons I feel the way I do about that question and being six weeks away from my 65th birthday I feel somewhat distressed by just realizing why I am bothered by it. How can this idea managed to escape me for so long? At this point, I cannot worry about that, but I can do my best to make sure I do not continue to ask anyone that question. No more “what do you want to do” for me.
The alternative became obvious recently as I encountered friends and clients that had hit a point in their lives that required them to deal with not what they wanted to do, but rather who they wanted to be or how they wanted to live. The struggle with doing created challenges that impacted how they wanted to live with themselves and the people that matter most to them. When we commit to being the person we would be most comfortable being, and perhaps most proud of being, the options of what we chose to do become exponentially greater. Core values and beliefs can exist in any career or job choice. You can be gracious, kind, successful, reliable, generous, curious, adventurous, humble, loving, and committed as a nurse, teacher, football player, doctor, trash collector, fireman, consultant, parent, bureaucrat, General or President. The job does not dictate the type of person you need to be, but the type of person you are dictates how you do your job.
With this thought as my guide, I am committing to spending the time and effort with my children and grandchildren focusing on who we want to be as opposed to what we want to be as we all grow up. My gift to them and the world will be sharing the results of this effort, helping them live lives they are proud of no matter what they do with their vocation or avocations. I trust they want to be as good a person as I want to be no matter what my business card says I do.