It’s a question we all heard a million times throughout our childhoods…
“What do you want to do when you grow up?”
We hear it from parents, teachers, coaches, aunts, uncles, grandparents, the parents of our friends, and at school.
When we are really young, we don’t understand the practicalities of life. We have no bills to pay, and no responsibilities. So we tend to dream big.
“I’m going to be an astronaut!” … “I’m going to play in the NHL!”… “I’m going to be a doctor!”
As we get a little bit older, we start to understand the world through a broader lens. And we start to understand our perceived limitations as report cards frame our self beliefs.
At the tail end of middle school, the real pressure starts to kick in. What are you gonna do when you graduate? Some of us know the answer. Most of us have no idea. The majority end up settling. It’s a real shame because we spend a massive percentage of our lives working.
It’s reported that up to eighty percent of people do not like their job. Imagine that! The vast majority of our population drift through the week just waiting for the weekend – and that’s a big problem. It means that most of us are punting on life, and not pursuing or fulfilling our true calling. We aren’t waking up every day with purpose and passion. We are watching the clock as life passes us by.
Can you imagine how great our world could be if the opposite was true?
I imagine living in a world where people truly love their career. A world in which people are maximizing their skills and talent, and contributing to our global society in a way that leaves them with a sense of fulfillment. In this world, I see major societal problems being solved because people are motivated, and driven to maximize their passionate skills.
Some people think this world is not possible. That this would only be possible in some utopian society void of bills and responsibilities. But I disagree. I simply believe it is time to relook at how we choose our careers.
HOW WE CURRENTLY CHOOSE OUR CAREERS:
Our educational systems are based off the need for standardized workers during the industrial revolution of the early twentieth century, and it’s built for conformity.
Show up and leave at a pre-set time, don’t speak out of turn, complete your tasks and get rated on aptitude, listen to your superiors and don’t ask too many questions, don’t distract the people around you, complete your work at set deadlines and continue to move up the system. Sound familiar? While this system develops great professional habits, it is out of touch.
This system was created when television didn’t exist. This system was created when our professional options were limited. This system was created when most people could not look outside their community, and the world was a much bigger place.
But technology has changed everything.
In the age of technology, the old industrial revolution education system is dated and out of touch. It doesn’t represent the world we live in today. We now live in a global world that allows you to communicate and sell in a global market in real time.
We take this for granted. But think about it for a minute…
Thirty years ago, you could only learn through school, books, and by listening to the wisdom of older people. Now everyone with a cellphone has access to every piece of information the world has ever known in real time. We also have access to a global audience in real time. This is why kids are smarter, and thought to be “entitled.” They don’t have to wait ‘till their twenties to find out that adults are full of shit.
Our modern technology would have been mind blowing to people in the 1910’s, 20’s, 30’s, 40’s, 50’s, 60’s and 70’s. Back in the 70’s, computers took up an entire room, and they could only complete basic tasks! A single cell phone is FAR more powerful than any of the computers that helped navigate mankind to the moon.
So let’s recognize the progress that has been made, and understand the possibilities that are now available to each and every one of us through WIFI.
HOW WE SHOULD PICK OUR CAREERS:
So as it stands, many people choose careers based off their performance in school. Everyone else chooses jobs based on convenience, circumstance, necessity, compensation, family pressure, finances, location, vacation time, and so on.
So how do we identify and pursue a career that we truly love? After spending an ungodly amount of time trying to figure this out, I have an idea with discussing.
I believe the solution is a 5-step model:
Henry Ford famously stated, whether you believe you can or can’t, you’re right. This means that everything starts with mindset. Those who achieve fulfilled careers believe it is possible. So if you don’t get your mind right, you’ve already lost and you don’t have a chance.
Here’s a hot tip… It is fun to do things that we are good at. It is not fun to do things that we suck at.
So once our minds believe that a great career is possible, we need to identify our best skills. This could be professional skills, communication skills, leadership skills, organizational skills, trade skills, analytical skills, and so on.
Once we identify our best skills, we need to prioritize which skills we are most passionate about. After all, if we spend our careers exercising our passionate skills, good things are bound to happen.
Once we’ve identified our best skills that fill us with passion, we need to figure out where those skills apply. Is it in the public sector? The private sector? Should we start a business?
So if the question is… “In what markets do my passionate skills apply?” We can reverse engineer the answer by understanding how we are motivated as people.
Are you motivated by work / life balance, money, social contribution, respect from peers, or freedom and creativity?
People are motivated by many different factors. But if you can be honest about your personal motivations, you can find a market that satisfies those motivations, and then your passionate skills will be put on full display.
I’ve listed steps 1-3 in relatively simplistic fashion above, but the truth is I didn’t know what I wanted to do until I was 30 years old. So I am not suggesting that this is easy. Finding a passionate career that serves your motivations is not meant to be easy. Rather, I’m suggesting it’s an exercise that will help you find guidance and direction.
On the topic of direction, the quickest path is always a straight line. So once you’ve identified your passion skills, and the markets that satisfy those skills and personal motivations, it is all about finding a role model.
Identify someone that is currently doing what you want to do. Research and uncover how they got there. You could even ask to speak with them (you’d be surprised how willing most people are to talk about their careers).
Think of it this way… The best way to travel is with a map. The best way to cook is with a recipe. The best way to train is with a program. By that same logic, identify the career path of your role model so you can map and achieve the same outcome.
At this point, we know our passionate skills, the markets that will satisfy our skills and motivations, and we’ve identified role models that are currently living the career we want to pursue.
Now we need to build daily, weekly, monthly, and annual steps, tasks, and goals into our live that will naturally guide us to our destination. If we continue to chip away every day, every week, and every month – we will eventually succeed in having a career that we love.