What Do You Want To Be When You Grow Up?

By Emily Knight

One of the first big important questions you were likely asked as a kid was "what do you want to be when you grow up?". This question hinted at the possibility of being whatever you wanted to be; no limit to the dreams you could dream; the careers you could pursue.

As we grew older and moved through grade school the "what do you want to be when you grow up?" question followed us and started to come along with career tests, career counselors, and university applications. Suddenly we were being asked to make this big, life-altering decision that held the promise of leading us towards a job, and if we were lucky, a career.

There a couple of problems with this picture. I don't know about you, but as I moved through high school, my self-awareness was limited, clouded by the drama of adolescence. I didn't know who I was, what made me happy, let alone what I wanted to commit my working life to. Travelling, new experiences at university and just plain growing up helped me learn more about myself, but at that point, I had already opted into a degree.

The biggest problem with the "what do you want to be when you grow up?" question is that the likeliness that our generation is going to enter into a linear career path with a singular focus, is diminishing day by day. Technology and automation are advancing quickly before our eyes and it is changing the way we work. The traditional 9-to-5 with a comfy benefits package, pension, and clear promotion path is gone, making way for blended work: freelancing, remote teams, and new industries altogether.

"What do you want to be when you grow up?" needs to be updated for our changing world. When we start to plan for the future we should be taking into account the various meanings of success, and that climbing the corporate ladder is no longer everyone's definition.

Answer me this… what kind of opportunities do you crave? What do you want to create? What do you want to be great at? What problems do you want to solve?

Think about these questions and go out and find people that are creating, building, and solving the things you are interested in. Maybe their job title is the dream career you never even knew existed.

P.S. watch this video: The digital future of work: Is the 9-to-5 job going the way of the dinosaur?