How to decide what you want to be when you grow up

I am sure you will remember adults asking you “what do you want to be when you grow up?” when you were little. I was adamant all through my school days that I wanted to be a teacher. It was only when I was accepted to do a degree in education and reflected on my own school experience  that I realised that there was some flawed thinking in that choice. To be fair I had very few “careers” that I knew about to  choose from but I knew then that teaching was not for me.

I wonder what influences career decisions in 2014 and if that is so different.

We now have access to information about almost everything at our fingertips. Yet so many people I speak to know what they don’t want to do any more but have little or know idea of what they would like to do instead.

On the news last night I saw the story of a young lad who had arranged for some cars that had been stranded due to a recent landslide to be moved by local soldiers. He had apparently met one of the commanding officers at a carol concert and had used the business card he got to contact him to ask for help. In the report he as asked if he would now wanted to be a soldier but it turns out that he has already decided he wants to be a train driver instead.   I hope there is a follow up report in 15 years or so to find out if he achieves that ambition.

If you think about your childhood ambition and what you are doing now – how do they fit?

Of course as we grow up we learn more about the world and opportunities and we  follow paths in education to get qualifications that will help match  with those opportunities.

But there is another,important aspect to career choices that is often overlooked. As we grow older we learn more about ourselves – our skills, interests, passions, talents etc.

And it is the mismatch between those and the job we do that is often at the heart of the dissatisfaction when clients come to me to work with them through a career change.

So as we come to the end of the second full working week of 2014, if you are feeling a bit disappointed, jaded or disengaged with the work you are doing why not take some time to think about how what you do fits with who you are.

The little chap mentioned will probably have dreams of driving imaginary trains and will have no reason to think he would not be the best train driver ever.  If you think back to your childhood ambitions can you work out why you changed track ( no pun intended).

Think about growing up as a continuous lifelong thing while you are doing that! Even though I rejected teaching as a career way back then,  the training part of my business( which I set up after many years as a tax adviser)  has given me the chance to work in schools and with school age young people. When I do I  find it challenging, fascinating, stimulating and inspiring. So maybe my childhood ambition was not so far off the mark after all – it just took longer.