When I was a kid, I knew for sure what I wanted to be when I grew up. I wanted to be a doctor because I wanted to help people. I never fulfilled that mission in life. I can’t tell you just how upset my mother was at the time when I changed course in life to follow my dreams. But when we’re young, we often have an exterior-influenced view of what we should be when we grow up.
We listen to parents, guardians, teachers and other people who profess to tell us what the noble routes are for careers in life. We’re saturated and inundated with knowledge about societal norms, but we’re never given that hard-knock education about the realities of life. In my opinion, you should never sacrifice what you what want to be when you grow just to satisfy someone else’s desires for you.
The thing about your choice of career is that you need to do what makes you happy. While everyone might want to have a say in that, you should never allow it to cloud your judgment because this is your life that we’re speaking about, not someone else’s. It’s easy for others to chime in, especially those that live in a box of rules and perceptions on how they think life should be lived.
I have never followed those traditional rules of life that say we have to pick a career and work our entire lives just to service our over-burdened debt. It’s not that I don’t agree with them. I just believe that societal norms have shaped us in a way that’s skewed towards what others expect of us. Since our parents did it this way, we have to do it this way too, right?
If you’re sitting there wondering what you should be when you grow up because you’re faced with the pressure of that decision, here’s my advice to you: follow your heart. Find something that you’re passionate about, and I mean really passionate about, and pursue it. In the beginning, you won’t make much money. But over time, that will change drastically.
What You Should Be When You Grow Up
If you’re trying to figure out what you’ll do for the rest of your life and you’re dealing with the pressure of family or peers trying to push you in one direction or another, there are some questions that you need to ask yourself first. Once you answer these questions, you should all but know what you want to do with the rest of your life.
Keep in mind that whatever you pick, it won’t be easy. Don’t give in to the temptations that have you sacrificing your passions just for a paycheck. Believe me, it’s not worth it. While a paycheck might be good at the outset, it will stick you into the cycle of either being a slave to some big corporation, or simply having to rely on time worked for income produced.
This isn’t to say that you should never work for someone else. As long as it’s really early on, I think it would be okay. You could also use it to learn the ropes. But you have to be careful not to get sucked into the rat race. If you get a job, keep your expenses at the bare minimum. If you live with your parents, keep it that way until you’ve saved up enough to start your own business and pursue your own passion.
The fact is that we live in a consumption-driven society. We’re all consumers. We look at things and say, “Give me. Give me. Give me.” But the truth is that this is the same way we get sucked into the rat race. Credit is cheap in most countries, and it’s easy to buy something now that you’ll pay for later. But this is also enabling the shackles of modern 9-to-5 life.
When you have debt and need to service that debt by paying monthly payments towards both fixed and variable loans, notes or lines of credit, you’re essentially trapped. You need to earn money every month to pay back that debt and if you don’t, you’ll suffer the consequences. I’m not saying that debt is bad if it’s smart debt, but most debt created in the world isn’t smart debt.
Smart debt would be things like mortgages to buy an income property or a credit card to pay for upgrades to existing real estate or business investments. That’s smart debt. Not going on vacations and buying fancy cars. If your automatic income doesn’t outpace your expenses, then you need to be smart until it does.
I know that this is getting into more of a financial discussion about money rather than what you should be when you grow up, but it’s part and parcel in my opinion. Don’t get trapped in the rat race. Enjoy freedom by making the right moves early on so that you don’t have to have the same worries that your parents might have had their entire lives.
Okay, so back to the questions…
I’d like you to take out a notepad or launch one on your laptop, smartphone or any other device you might have handy, and honestly answer the questions below. You need to actually write the answers down to this because it makes all the difference. When you write things down they’re real. When you keep them in your mind they stay in the abstract.
#1 — What are you passionate about?
When we’re talking about what you should be when you grow up, we’re really talking about the rest of your life. How are you going to feel doing something for the rest of your entire life. While something might seem enticing today, I assure you that after decades of doing it, you just might get fed up. So you need to find something you’re passionate about.
What are you passionate about? Every person is unique in this manner and not everyone likes the same things. For some people, they enjoy the challenges that come along with doing something different every single day. Others want to ensure they’re contributing or adding value to the world. Still others might want to have more certainty in their daily tasks.
Whatever it is that you’re passionate about, write it down. Not sure what you’re passionate about? Well, think about it for a moment and consider what it is that you really love doing. I mean, really really love doing. Playing video games? Writing stories? Traveling and seeing new places? Meeting people and speaking with others?
Get down to the basics of who you are. Remember, this is the rest of your life we’re talking about. If you’re not passionate about whatever you’re doing, it’s easy to lose total and complete interest in life. While that might not happen every day, if you settle for something now rather than making sacrifices so that you can do what you love, what’s the point and purpose?
When something pops into your mind, write it down. Then, next to it, write down why you’re so passionate about that thing in particular. What does it remind you of? How does it make you feel? What’s the reason you’re so passionate about it? The more time and detail you put into this, the better it will be to help you determine what you should be doing for the rest of your life.
#2 — Who or what inspires you the most?
While passion is part of it, inspiration is another part of the recipe for what you should be when you grow up. Who or what inspires you? Whatever you want to do or be in life, you should ensure that it inspires you. What’s the cause that you’re after? It can’t be something superficial like money. If you say that, you’re wasting your time.
Money can’t inspire you. Money is just a byproduct. The end can’t be money. There has to be something more; something better and greater that’s pushing you. Why? When we focus solely on money, we tend to veer off course. When we fail or come up against huge obstacles, when we’re inspired by only money, bad things happen. We give up and throw in that proverbial towel, lose hope and motivation to go forward.
There has to be something else that inspires you. It can’t be material whatsoever like cars or houses or jewelry. That’s just another way of saying money and the things that money can buy you. You have to dig deeper than that. I’m talking about invoking a feeling. Maybe love inspires you. Maybe freedom inspires you. Maybe it’s contribution, security or any number of other things.
Write down who or what inspires you, and then write down a paragraph on why that person or thing inspires you so much. Where does it stem from? Why are you willing to do anything in your power to achieve your goals? Much of what we should be doing for the rest of our lives has to do with how we feel and why we do the things we do. Get precise about this now so you don’t question your decisions later.
#3 — Where do you see yourself in 5/10/20 years from now?
Achieving any goal or accomplishing any one thing that’s notable in life, has much to do with your ability to envision yourself doing that. If you can’t see yourself doing it, you’ll be less likely to follow through and achieve it. The results in life have very much to do with what’s inside your mind and what direction your thinking is geared towards.
If you think in abundance, then you’ll live a life replete with abundance. If you think negatively, then your life will gravitate in that direction. This is about the Law of Attraction as much as it as about the permeation of thought types into the mind, and how they either fester bad things or foster good things through an expectation of what’s to come.
Stand in front of the mirror and look at yourself. Really look at yourself. Then, picture what your life will be like 5 years from now. What will you be doing? Who will you be spending your time with? What picture comes up in your mind? What will your hair look like or your skin? Will you be smiling or frowning?
This is an important experiment, one that’s integral in helping you determine what you should be when you grow up, or simply what you’ll be doing later on in life. 5 years from now, will you be living out your dreams? Or, will you be working towards digging yourself out of a self-induced hole? What will your job be? What car will you be driving? What city will you be living in?
Next, project that out 10 years from now. What does your life look like in 10 years? What are the things you’ll be doing or the places you’ll be going? What does your family look like? Kids? Spouse? Friends? Career? Will you own your own business or will you be working for someone else? Put some careful thought into it.
Finally, think about 20 years from now. How will your life look like then? Is it too difficult to think about things 20 years in the future? While the world will be a much different place then, how different will your life be? Take the time to write this down. All of it. What did you picture? Be sure to get it on paper. You absolutely have to write it down if you want to manifest your dreams.
#4 — What are your values and beliefs?
What do you value and believe in? What are the types of things you heard from your parents or guardians while growing up? What sayings stick in your mind? Your values and beliefs define who you are as a person. They evolve through experiences and upbringings, and they also are at the heart of who we are and what we do.
For example, a person that believes that money is the root of all evil because their parents repeatedly drilled this into their minds as children will operate far more differently and want different things in life from someone who believes that money is the source of contribution, giving and freedom to do whatever, whenever and wherever.
What do you believe about other people? Do you believe people are inherently good? Or do you believe that they are crooked? Do you value integrity and honesty, or do you value respect and courage most, in example? Of course, you’re unique, and your values and beliefs are likely unique to the next person as well.
If you can identify your values and beliefs, you at least have a jumping off point to determine what you should be when you grow up, or be doing for the rest of your life for that matter. How is that possible? It helps to create a foundation for building a life atop of. Maybe you value courage and respect the most, so you want to do something when you grow up that will help you fulfill that. Maybe you’ll become a police officer or an FBI agent.
If you value contribution most in life and believe that people are inherently good, maybe you want to work in a mission, the Red Cross, a monastery or some other group that gives to others. Can you see how this will be helpful in determining what you want to do when you grow up? Write down everything you value and believe in right now on a sheet of paper so you know where you stand.
#5 — Growing up, what’s the most important lesson your learned?
Life’s lessons play an important role in who we are by shaping and molding us through things like failure, growth and contribution. All of our experiences have helped us to become who we are today. We’re all unique individuals that have lived unique lives. Those lives are filled with experiences and lessons that provide a glimpse into our personalities and characteristics.
Think about this for a moment. What is the most important lesson that you’ve learned so far in your life? What happened to you that helped instill this lesson? Did you have to suffer through some pain? Or, did you learn the lesson through some other means? Maybe, just maybe, this is a lesson that can help others in the world. Maybe it can even provide a platform for economic, spiritual and emotional growth.
Take out a sheet of paper and write down your life’s greatest lesson. Recount it on paper. What did you go through and what did you learn as a result of it? How can you use this information to help you determine what you want to be when you grow up or what you want to do for the rest of your life? Really think about it and take the time in writing this out.
This isn’t something to be embarrassed about. You can use this knowledge to enhance your life and the lives of others in some way, shape or form. It might sound idealistic at first, but I assure you that this is invaluable knowledge, and provides intense insight into helping you determine what you want to be doing the rest of your life.
#6 — How far are you willing to go for your dreams?
If your dreams don’t scare you, they aren’t big enough. Or so the saying goes. You’ve likely heard this before, but you might not have subscribed to this school of thought. If you don’t have big dreams, why not? If you’re living in fear, or you’re filled with anxiety, stress or nervousness for the future, now is the time to bring that to light.
Lots of people dream big. They have dreams they keep in the abstract, filling a void in the back of their minds. They say things like, “Some day I’m gong to do that.” Well, that some day is today. Be sure to write out all your goals, then consider how far you’re willing to go to make those dreams into a reality. What are you going to do in the face of major obstacles or intense failure?
Are you going to pick yourself back up and try again? Or, are you instead going to be so broken down that you’re going to head for the ropes? Write out how far you’re willing to go for your dreams. The earlier on in life you do this, the better it is. Keep in mind that failure isn’t something to shy away from. In fact, failure is a sign that you’re heading in the right direction — it’s a stepping stone.
Whatever you want to be when you grow up, know this — you’ll likely fail along the way, especially if it’s a lofty dream. If you say you want to own a sports franchise or a big company, it’s not going to be an easy road. Just keep that in mind. But also write out what you’ll be willing to do to make it into a reality. It’s easy to dream, but it’s not as easy to stay persistent and achieve those dreams.
Making the Right Decision
Now that you’ve done the exercises, you have all this information in front of you. Read it over again and again. Look for congruencies and parallels that will help you determine what you want to be when you grow up, or the shape and direction you want your life to go for the remainder of your years.
Remember, life is short. Savior it. Do something you love and that inspires you, pushing you to become a better person and giving back to others. How will you add value to this world? That’s the question at the heart of it all. It’s your overall value that will determine your ability to succeed in life, whatever it is you decide to be when you grow up.