It’s the question we have been asking for generations. I can remember, clearly answering, a secretary, hairdresser or teacher, pretty standard conservative responses for many girls of my and previous generations. I did have a couple of other, more secret and probably racier dreams, of being a go-go dancer and a Carlton Blue Bird that I didn’t tell too many people about. Now I wouldn’t say it because being a Carlton supporter is hard, but also, my views on girls cheering on boys from the sidelines have changed a little, or a lot over the years, in fact I’m more proud watching my teenage daughter be one of the football players, rather than the pom-pom girls spectating.
Societal attitudes have shifted for what our girls and boys can expect from their future careers, opportunities have opened up for both genders which is a great thing. Removing stereotypical limitations many of us grew up with has broadened horizons for all and benefits our society as a whole. Of course, there are still glass ceilings that need smashing, pay gaps to be addressed discrimination in many forms and imbalance in the home duties are a constant negotiation in every household. However, there have been some shift for the better and many of us are working in jobs that weren’t around when we were at school, either because they weren’t an option for us or they weren’t a thing.
I have been reflecting of late, wondering when do we stop asking the question. I can still catch myself pondering, “What do I want to be when I grow up?” Is it too late for me to be a nurse, another of my earlier options. I am not dissatisfied with my career, in fact I can say I have been extremely blessed to have loved all my jobs and as I have progressed haven’t been able to believe how lucky I am to do what I am doing. So why do I still think I need to be more, achieve more?
I have started to understand the answer to the questions has more to do with semantics, maybe we are asking the wrong question. Switch ‘what’ with ‘who’ and the question becomes far more powerful.
Who do you want to be when you grow up? Now we get to think about the kind of person we want to be, How do I want to walk the earth, Who am I? What do I stand for? How do I show up in my own life?
When we can answer these questions, we can align our careers to be the vehicle to live our lives as a reflection of our values. I work in Community Development and as a Coach, both of these roles allow me to live a value of service that is at my core. I want to make a difference to the people I work with, I want to create impact in my community. When we are able to work from our strengths, find that sweet spot between challenge and skill that Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi named Flow we are most likely to find fulfillment in our jobs and life. I fell into work that aligned with my values and skills by following my passions. I identified what I most cared about and found jobs that fitted and enabled me to do what I love each day.
I also recognised these changes are more than the work I want to be paid for. I wanted to be kinder, so for me that meant no longer eating animals, I wanted to extend my value of kindness from just human beings, to all beings. This choice has helped me feel more congruent with who I want to be. I want to be more loving, for me, that means learning to love and be kinder to myself, I am learning to say no and take care of me as well as my beautiful family and friends.
If you find you are struggling and discontent, try asking yourself, “Who do I want to be, when I grow up?” It is never to late to make changes to be who you want to be and live a life you love.
And my go-go dancer aspirations, well let’s say I still love to dance and I’m often the last one on the dance floor when the music stops!
If any of my words have struck a chord with you and you’d like a chat, hit me up!