What do you want to be when you grow up? How many times were you asked that as a child? If you were anything like me, you really had no idea of what the options were, let alone what you wanted to do, beyond be successful and happy in your choice. I had no idea when I would be ‘grown up’ and with the passage of time, that milestone seemed to keep moving into the distance ahead of me, much the same as a mirage.
I was also flummoxed by too many ideas. I toyed with being an actor, a journalist, a psychologist, working in advertising, and perhaps being a social worker. I definitely knew that I didn’t want to be a teacher, or a nurse (conventional female choices at that time) and although interested in sciences, this was not a field in which I excelled academically. Actually, my academic achievements were not terribly high in any area by the time that I finished high school and I had totally lost confidence in myself and my abilities, as had done my parents.
There are a range of career advisers available today that didn’t exist at that time. However, the Commonwealth Employment Service (CES for those who remember) did have an adviser for school leavers and my mother sent me off to undertake their testing and interview process. From memory, I don’t think that I was handed a career in a box, or given any real practical suggestions. What stunned me though was the interviewer saying that “I don’t know why you are thinking of social work. Your results indicate that you don’t like people.”
I was both astonished and demoralised by this assertion and although I thought that she must be wrong, was pushed off balance. What followed was a period of drifting in and out of courses that I took because I didn’t know what else to do, dropping out, travelling a bit, odd jobs here and there and finally falling into the property industry. Along the way, I have acquired a few degrees and qualifications, worked in real estate sales, had my own agency, sold and built houses, have been a research analyst and a property adviser for various corporations and government departments. It just sort of happened. There have also been some business start-ups in that time, and a lot of lessons learnt.
All along though, I said to myself, I wonder what I will be when I grow up? I’m a few decades along from when I first posed this question, and I’m still not totally sure when the grown up thing happens, but I have learnt a few things along the way. Besides acquiring a range of business skills and experiences, (how I wish I’d had those business smarts when younger) I also know that being older doesn’t mean that decisions are any easier. I also know that circumstances change at any age, whether by choice or factors outside of your control, and know that decisions on what to do next can still be over-whelming.
Friends and family all have different opinions and usually none of their suggestions really light your fire. It can be easier not to consult them and just to agonise on the options on your own. At least then you only have your own conflicted voice to listen to and not half a dozen others.
Some of my own experiences in this area have led me to pursue training in coaching, focussing on those key transitional times in our lives. It complements work that I have exploring with Life Choices – how to make the decisions that are right for us. I wish that I’d had help like this earlier in life. Stay tuned for further detail that I would love to share with you on my journey of decision-making discovery.
A key area of interest is helping people to make decisions at transitional times in their lives. It might be having to change career direction or having to re-invent yourself or it may be at other major transitional changes. The biggies are birth, marriage, children, , divorce, death but there are other variations that are just as important when we are grappling with our decisions.
I’m also really interested in learning how others manage their decision making processes. If you have time, leave a response and share it with us all.