What do you want to be when you grow up?
Do you remember being asked that question as a child, by your teacher or parents?
How did you respond?
Did you pick a profession e.g. a doctor, a fireman, a policeman, a baker?
As a child I had no idea what I wanted to be when I grew up. For a while I thought I wanted to be a vet, but deep down I didn’t really know.
Fast forward twenty years.
Ask the same question (minus the “when you grow up” bit).
How do you respond?
Your answer may not be the same as when you were a child. You may have a clearer idea of what you want to be. But my guess would be that your answer will still involve a profession, career or lifestyle e.g. I want to be a writer, I want to own a business, I want to teach etc.
We all have goals, dreams and aspirations. These goals, dreams and aspirations often include a chosen career – what we want to be. There’s nothing wrong with that.
What I want to challenge today though is whether it’s actually the career that we’re after or whether it’s something more fundamental.
It’s not about what you want to be
I have dreams.
I would like to change my career.
I am working towards that change by paying off my debts, so that I can pursue a career of my choice.
What is my dream career?
There are many. I am open to all of them. I would like to:
- be a writer
- be a teacher
- run a small-holding
- work part-time
- work and live in a different country
At the moment I work a 9-5 office job. I need that job in order to pay down my debt. This is going to take another couple of years to clear. So for the time being I am where I am.
In thinking about what I might do once the debts are paid and I’ve handed in the resignation letter I have realised that it’s not actually the new career that I’m after.
It is but it isn’t.
It’s not about what I want to be, in the traditional sense.
The same will be true for you.
It’s about what you want to be
Let me explain.
As children we’re asked what we want to be when we grow up. The standard answer is to pick a career, from train driver to nurse. We bring this with us into adulthood. We believe that it is the career itself that holds the answer. It’s not.
It’s what we think the career brings with it that we’re really after.
Let’s take one of my dream careers – being a professional writer.
In a way I already am (a professional writer) – I write at work every day – I produce papers and documents, papers and documents that get published. That’s not what I’m after though in wanting to be a professional writer.
What I’m really after is: being able to write about subjects that I’m interested in, about helping others through my writing, about being able to live and work anywhere, about being my own boss.
Let’s take this one step further.
If I realise my dream career what will it bring? This is it. This is what I’m truly after. I think that my dream career will bring me:
I think that in doing something that I love I will feel:
These words could equally apply to any of the dream careers/vocations that are currently on my list.
It’s these things that I’m really after, that we’re all after. Your list might be different but you will have a list like the one above. This is what your heart is after.
It’s really simple: you can have all these things right here, right now. You don’t need that dream career to experience them.
I’m not advocating giving up on your dreams or ambitions. I’m certainly not giving up mine. What I am saying is that you can experience all that you think your dream career will bring you wherever you are right now.
In fact, the more you bring these experiences into your life now the quicker and easier it will be to transition to the career and lifestyle of your choice.
The simple answer is: alter your perception.
Stop living your life fighting your current situation and placing all your hope in the “it’ll be better when” pot.
Start living the life of your dreams now.
I want to be: happy, joyous, fulfilled and free. I can and do have all of these things now.
The first thing to do is to stop saying “I want”. Instead say “I am”. It’s subtle but it works.
No career is going to make you feel happy, joyous, fulfilled and free unless you decide that’s how you are going to feel. You can feel like this in your current job. You just have to make that choice. Don’t let anybody tell you that you can’t. All you have to do is take off the blinkers that society put on you as a child. View the world and where you are through a new pair of glasses.
Happiness, joy, fulfilment and freedom all come from within.
Start with gratitude.
I am grateful that I have a job. I am grateful that this job enables me to pay off my debts, put food on the table and a roof over my head. I am grateful for the people that I work with. I am grateful that I have some degree of autonomy at work. I am grateful that I am able to write in my spare time. I am grateful for my wife, for my friends. The list is endless.
I want to feel relaxed, helpful and useful.
I am relaxed, helpful and useful.
Alter your attitude and the whole world will change.
The truth is you have everything you have ever desired right here, right now.
This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t pursue your dreams. Put in the footwork. Take those small incremental steps.
Leave the rest to the Universe.
Change is a constant. Change is always coming. By taking those steps and by realising that you can live the life of your dreams wherever you are and whatever you are doing, you’ll be ready when that change comes.