A Few months ago I met my friend, who was taking a career break and she said, joking, that after this pause she hopes she will – at last – find out what she would like to do when she grows up. After this conversation I’ve started to think about this question, that kids are often asked. When a child is 5 or 7 years of age it’s fun to ask this question. When he/ she turns 17-18, this question might irritate or cause anxiety. I’m not an expert in child psychology, but I have several observations from career consulting.
First, if you ever have watched children, dealing with this question, you could certainly learn at least one thing from them. this is to never give up trying, or changing your choice naturally. One day you might be a movie star, the next a policeman, then a farmer. There is no end for giving another try easily. Do you imagine yourself looking so lightly on a profession change?
Second, this game is fun, until an adult steps in with lectures about what you should be and what you should do to become the one you want. It might be part of the game, but usually we forget another part – to help children watch themselves and understand their inner world – their wishes, abilities, skills, limitations. I think it’s important to develop awareness about oneself, so you could more easily reflect on the match with different professions.
Third, this question has finality about it. Once you grow up, you’ll be done with this question, there will be an end result – your profession. When looking at it this way, I understand how sometimes frustrated young people might be when trying to make the right choice.
Fourth, when we think that we have found the answer, we might narrow down our field of interests and exploration. Once I was talking with school children about professions, one girl suddenly got nervous and said: “I like to knit so much, but I want to become a dentist.” “So, what’s about it?” I’ve asked. And she said: “So, I should be learning something that is needed for dentists, dentists don’t knit.” We had a discussion about what do you need to be good at knitting, we both agreed that you need to be careful, diligent and that it’s useful skill for a dentist, too. I think, it’s important not to suppress abilities you have, even if they are not obviously connected with profession you are aiming for.
So, if you meet children in your life – let them play and explore, help them raise their awareness about themselves, their needs and wishes. If you meet young people in their after school choices, support them with reminding that it’s not a final choice.
If you are a grownup – do the same for yourself:)
And maybe change the question to the statement: “Today I’m gonna be…”