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How to Figure Out What You Want to Do When You Grow Up (Yes, I know you just retired!)

Did you know you get to decide what you want to be when you grow up several times during your life?

Well, really as many times as you want, but there are a few mile markers. Like when you are six and, like my daughter, you want to grow up and live in the mall. Or when you graduate from high school and you have no clue what you want to do with your life. Or when your children graduate and move away from home and you still have no clue what you want to do with your life. Or when you retire and you thought you'd figured it out and you tried several things and they were fun for a while, but now you have all this amazing freedom!

Wherever you are on life's journey, figuring out what you want to be when you grow up can be extremely stressful, or it can be a lot of fun.

So let's pick fun, right?

I could write a whole book full of cool things to do to narrow down your new career choice (of course you know careers can include things like climbing Mayan ruins or sailing) But for now, I am just going to share one really awesome exercise with you. It has several steps to it and you will need four different colors of paper, or four different colored pens or markers or crayons, or--my personal favorite--four different colors of sticky notes.

Here are the directions...

1. I am going to assume you were so dedicated to this exercise that you stopped reading this article, went right out and bought four different colors of sticky notes, ran back here as fast as you could, and you are ready, sticky notes in hand. Oh, By the way, you will need something to write with too. If you didn't go get sticky notes but you have colored paper (the second best option) cut your paper into squares about the size of sticky notes. You will need anywhere from 10 -100 of each color depending on how excited you get. If you have colored writing utensils, cut up a bunch of plain white paper into sticky note size and get armed with your first colored crayon.

2. Now you get to ask yourself this question. What are my favorite childhood memories?

Choose a color. Lets pretend you chose green. Write down a favorite memory on a green sticky note. Only one memory per note. Use as many notes as you like. Try to use at least ten. Ten memories, ten sticky notes (or colored pieces of paper of plain white pieces of paper with green-crayon-writing on them)

3. Now ask yourself this. What am I really good at?

Choose a new color. Let's say this time its purple. One note, one answer, everything purple this time. I am sure by now you get it. Sorry for trying to be so ridiculously clear, but if you put more than one answer on each slip of paper, you will be all messed up at the end and I would hate for you to feel frustrated. After all, this is supposed to be fun!

4. Question number three is, What do I love to do?

We are going to pretend all your answers to question number three went on to yellow paper.

5. And the last question you get to ask yourself is, If I could could do anything and money and time were not an issue (you have 10 bazillion dollars and a thousand years) and I could never fail, what would I do?

All your answers to this question are on pink sticky notes in my world and for the purpose of this article. Although you may have them on blue. That's fine.

OK now here comes the cool part.

6. Lay, or stick the papers all over the table, or the floor and mix them up so it looks like a giant undone puzzle (which it is)

7. Now start looking at what you wrote and see where the similarities are. You will most certainly find you can pile your papers into several different categories. Mine big ones were nature, writing, travel, and teaching.

8. Start moving your papers around until you have groups of similar categories. Some will have a lot of stickies in them and some will just have a few. That's OK!

9. When you have all your piles together, choose the piles that have the most sticky notes in them. You might have four or five different piles with more than five notes each. Now go through each pile and note how many of each color it has in it. This just gives you an idea if that pile is well balanced. Maybe one pile is almost all green (childhood memory). That would mean you used to have a lot of fun with this, but you have not invested in it for a while. Maybe this green pile is all things about painting. You don't feel like you are all that great at painting, so it doesn't have a lot of purple in it (what am I good at) Maybe you would enjoy taking a painting class! Or maybe one pile is all purple (what am I good at) but there is no yellow in it (what do I love to do) that would mean you worked hard at getting good at this thing, but you don't love it. If that is the case, then put that pile to the side because you want to focus on things you love to do AND are good at.

When you have decided which piles to use, you get to write your personal what-I-want-to-do-when-I-grow-up profile.

How to write your profile:

This is easy. Take all your different pile themes and squish them together into one or two sentences and put it in present tense like you are doing it right now. (I will explain why in a minute)

This is mine: I travel to places where beautiful nature all around me. I write about what I see and then use what I have written to teach people.

OK, that may seem a bit weird to you. But that is exactly what I wrote down six years ago when my husband passed away and my children were all grown and I had no idea what I was going to do when I grew up and guess what I do now?! I travel and I teach and I write and I explore really exotic out-of-the-way islands and mountains and jungles and rain forests. And guess what? I am having the time of my life!

10. This is why you needed to write it in present tense. When you get your profile written, you can stick it up someplace where you will see it all the time and every time you see it you can read it out-loud. There is a lot of power in saying things out-loud. Words are vibration and all the universe is vibration and with words things are created.

The reason I asked you to write your profile in present tense is because you will create what you are reading out-loud. If you write, "I will travel" then your reality will always be that traveling is a "will" a "someday" a "somewhere-out-there-in-the-future" and that is not what you want. If travel is always in your future, then it is never in your present. So write, "I travel" or "I paint" or "I snowboard" and then post it where you can see it, read it out-loud every day, and see how your life evolves so soon you find yourself doing what you really always wanted to do when you grow up. (And by the way, you never actually have to grow up!)

not growing up, but having the time of my life


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