What should I be when I grow up? Revisiting the question

What should I be when I grow up?

Do career counselors get tired of hearing this question? Sadly, yes.

Do you get tired of asking it about yourself? Definitely!

Here’s a thought: let’s table the question and simply ask something else.

Try these questions instead:

  • What skills do I want to use all day?
  • What course(s) did I enjoy the most in school?
  • What is my passion?
  • What triggers my enthusiasm?

That question about what I should be when I grow up is ultimately depressing. No matter what your age, it might suggest that you are immature, unsuccessful, unfocused, and undecided if you don’t have a ready answer. I think that can be destructive to your self-esteem and a put-down to all your accomplishments.

The question occasionally gets raised in job interviews, which is tricky. Even if you have frequent job changes on your resume, it is possible to answer that question with a confident smile and a summary of your most important skills and how they continue to develop. You do not have to be defined by your job title.

Some of the most interesting people continue to unfold, try new things, develop new skills, and redefine themselves throughout the lifespan. This makes other people nervous and even guilty – why can’t things stay the same?

The lucky ones are those who strive to develop themselves anew, whether on the next job or in retirement. Today is the best day to prepare for tomorrow, especially given the changing nature of the work force. Don’t be defined by a job title… it is way too transient.

If you would like to discuss your options for tomorrow’s work, please visit my website (www.anneheadley.com) for contact information. I have no preconceived notions about what you are going to do with the rest of your life. You’re already a grown-up and you are already a person of accomplishment. Let’s build on that!

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