Ask a child about their career aspirations, and the question sounds like, “What do you want to be (or do) when you grow up?”
Ask an adult about their career aspirations, and the question leans more toward, “If you could do anything else, what would it be?”
See the crucial difference? WHEN vs. IF.
(Give yourself a bonus point if you answered, “Tone.”)
Questions for kids encourage possibility (as they should). “You will grow up. You will have a job you like. You can do anything you set your mind to! Would you please share your hopes and dreams?”
Questions for adults reinforce reality. “You’re stuck in a job you don’t like… If you could some day escape said job and start a new career you aren’t trained for in a field you have no experience in (considering the sad fact that you are too old to work your way up from the bottom), what would it be?”
Imagine doing the opposite. To young Jackson or Sophia: “Assuming you aren’t called upon to heroically lead a team of resistance fighters across a post-apocalyptic landscape, or in more rational terms, assuming you live through your teen years and don’t wind up in prison, to what muggle drudgery are you willing to commit your precious, unique self during your most productive years? By the way, if you answer, ‘Singer,’ there’s a high likelihood you’ll die young from a drug overdose, suicide, or in a plane crash.”
To aged Susie and Johnny – oops, I meant, “Susan and Jonathan”: “One day soon you will embark on the exciting adventure of your third career, armed with a solid work history, a proven track record, and the wisdom of experience. All valued and valuable skills! For your next chapter, where would you like to – once again – bloom where you are planted?”
Quick! Jump in the Campfire Tales time machine! Let’s visit 2015, several months after these New Year’s balloons dropped on my head:
In preparation for my inevitable job shift, once I moved beyond asking myself doom and gloom “if” questions and started framing my future in a more positive light – possibly even doing work I enjoy! – I allowed myself to ask the question, “What do I enjoy?”
The answer led to brainstorming national parks trips with my adventure-minded friend Cindy.
Until you can make it a career, pursue the hobby! ~ Someone probably once said, and then, I don’t know… opened a hobby supply store?
Anyway, we decided to go local for our first “bucket list” type trip. (I’ll call it a, “National Park Quest,” but please know we aren’t Park Collectors.) The options proved limited, as we’d visited most California parks already, some of them many times over.
“What about Lassen?” Cindy suggested.
“National parks,” I (**_____**)ly corrected her. (I can’t decide if my correction was smug, foolish, or arrogant; you get to decide, and fill in the **blank**!)
“Lassen IS a national park,” she explained.
“How do we get there?” I asked.
And so it began. We were on the path…