Should we be asking our kids or even ourselves this question?–
Author: Amanda, Yoga Instructor
I have for a long time been afraid of this question. As a kid I had an ever-changing answer and I believed going into high school and then college that it would solidify, and when it didn’t, I was left confused, anxious and afraid. Worried that choosing the wrong thing would lead to unhappiness and that choosing nothing at all would leave me undefined.
Therein, I believe, lies the problem; it leads us to believe that it is a career or a job that is the definition of us. The organizational psychologist Adam Grant explains:
“My first beef with the question is that it forces kids to define themselves in terms of work. When you’re asked what you want to be when you grow up, it’s not socially acceptable to say, “A father,” or, “A mother,” let alone, “A person of integrity.” This might be one of the reasons many parents say their most important value for their children is to care about others, yet their kids believe that top value is success. When we define ourselves by our jobs, our worth depends on what we achieve.”
Can we change the question to change the definition?
Start to ask instead, “What kind of person do you want to be?” or “What things do you enjoy doing?” and “What do you want to learn about?” Start encouraging yourself and our children to think outside the career box.
Begin to ask yourself these questions as well, change your own narrative about your definition.
What are you passionate about?
Thinking of passion can be daunting as well, like thinking about marriage on the first date. A lot of time we think about passion as a top-level enthusiast, or of grand things: artists, writers who stay up all night. Or we imagine that we have one grand passion, that we must unearth to lead us into a brilliant career or that will define us.
Anyone else have/ had that notion… or just me?
Passion can be in the smallest of things, it can change or adapt, and we are allowed an innumerable amount. Your passion isn’t necessarily your purpose is life.
(Watch Pixar’s movie Soul to get a great example of that) 🙂
Then why even think or live in pursuit of your passion? It is as simple as doing something that makes you happy!
Instead of going on a deep dive into your soul to find a grand passion, notice everyday what you smile about, notice where you really WANT to spend your time and energy.
Maybe you love cooking dinner with your kids, doodling on your notepad, walking on the beach, running or swimming. Notice and ask yourself : “What do I enjoy?”. Maybe try journaling and see what it is you write about every day.
Or look forward. Ask yourself what kind of person you want to be.
“Who do you want to be when you grow up?”
Instead of thinking of astronauts and firefighters or a huge career change think of the traits you want to develop and strengthen – patience, kindness, grit, etc.
How to live a passionate life?
You’ve asked the questions and looked at your day a bit in detail, and now understand the things you like to do and the person you wish to become.
Once you find your passion, your purpose or even just your daily intention, then find out how to live it. Day after day.
For an intention without action is only a wish.
For me I wanted and want to be more present, I was always thinking about the future that I was forgetting about the moment.
I noticed when and where I was more present, diving and in yoga. Then I pursued it. For me it did lead me into a career that I never expected. I never thought I would be a dive and yoga instructor, or that I would find passion in that. It started off simple, an intention that I wanted to live in my life.
Step by Step
- Set an intention- “Who do you want to be when you grow up- today or 10 years from now”.
- When am I that person now?
- How can I be that more often?
- Do it.
- Be open to the unexpected, always.
The next step might not be what you expect, and you might not know what that is right now. Be open to life. Be open with yourself.
Look for the moments that you’re the person you want to be or the times you feel on fire!
Then allow life to guide you in those moments more often.
Life isn’t about the deep quests but rather the tiny moments that all add up.