Who Do You Want To Be When You Grow Up?

This is a question everyone asks us when we are little, but somewhere along the way they stop.

But why stop? Are you done?

Life change is essential to our long-term happiness. Sometimes companies will ask you what you want in an interview, or during an annual appraisal, but often, they don’t really want to know; they just want to know which box they should tick.

But why do we stop asking it ourselves?

It seems like we get a paycheck and just start taking it for granted that this is who we are and who we will be forever. Get married, buy a house or have kids and it just seems to get further set into stone.

And yet, do we make these decisions as mature, confident adults who know their minds? Mostly not, most of the key decisions we make that determine who we become, we make as fledgling adults, still severing our ties to our parents, hopelessly naïve and terrified/excited by our future.

When Your Role Models Fail You

I was surprised at the peak of my career, when I didn’t like the person I aspired to be. My company knew exactly what they wanted. When I took time to look at that, I realized that I would be miserable. Yes, I could achieve my dreams another way, but that begged the question: “Exactly who do I want to be?” And how does that person achieve success?

It may be time for change, but what should you do?

You need to regularly ask yourself who you are, who you want to be, and how far you are willing to go to get there. Just because you’re here now, doesn’t mean you have to stay here, if you are ready for change.

If you are struggling to define the change you want to see, try some of these:

  • The next time you are in a movie theater, ask yourself: “If I were a super hero/ action hero, which one would I be? Why did I chose them, what do I like so much about them?”  Now ask yourself how you could be a little more like that; without the cape, but maybe with the boots?
  • While waiting in a doctor’s office, imagine you were drawing the perfect you. How would you look? What would you be wearing? What impression would others get? Why? Maybe now you look a little Vogue, but maybe inside you are a little more Rolling Stone. Is there a way you could show a little more of the inner you without giving your boss and partner aneurysms?
  • When you are watching television, think of the TV moms, which one do you like and why? Is there a tradition you could start in your family that would let you be that mom once in a while? Maybe once a month, you could make a fort in the living room, watch movies and sleep on the floor. No matter how busy you are, there is always time to create a tradition occasionally, even if it’s only once a year.

Next Steps

There are times in life where there is genuinely little to do, when we are in waiting mode. Take those opportunities to dream; carry a notebook and jot down ideas. My notebook has morphed into the Life Binder, a visual representation of  life dreams; a portable vision board and task list all rolled into one. Try sharing some of these dreams with your partner the next time you are driving in the car, it may generate new ideas.

Over time a picture will start to emerge, one of a person you think is kind of cool and probably a little scary. This is who you want to be when you grow up.

If you don’t have this picture in your mind, people will bend you to their will. They will say “If you want this, then you need to be like that.” If you know who you want to be, you will know if you are okay with that. This is what has happened to me, and many others I have met, and none of us even noticed it was happening.

Life is so busy, you need to take time to know yourself. Otherwise it just rolls by and the next thing you know, you were so busy, you earned a bunch of things you don’t really want. And that the face in the mirror is that of a stranger.

One Comment

  1. Erin

    I totally agree as I have come to many of the same conclusions myself. I am constantly evaluating what I want my life to be. I spent far to long just going with the flow, with what society thought I should do. It takes a lot of effort to question what others expect of you and what you expect of yourself and to question why you have those expectations but in the end it will lead to a happier life.

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