I Don’t Know What I Want To Be When I Grow Up!

05 May 2017

Perhaps you think you’re the only one who says, “I don’t know what I want to be when I grow up.” Actually, it’s more common than you think. I even heard the phrase from two 50-somethings this week. If you are asking deep questions about who you are, what you’re good at, or what you REALLY want to do, you’re not alone.

We all desire to know who we are and what work will be fun and fulfilling. Some people don’t know because they’ve focused on others, like their kids. Some have let life push them instead of them pushing life. Some have spent all their energy working for a paycheck, or have perhaps never given themselves permission to ask, “What would I really like to do?” How about you?

Get Control Of Your Life is not about giving you formulas or steps. There are enough websites, book authors and motivational speakers already out there with 5 or 10 simple steps to success. I think life is more complex, so here you will find no magic bullets for life, secret recipes for success, or easy plans. We all get to figure stuff out for ourselves. However, there is help.

Here are some principles that have served me:

  • Look for patterns
  • Know thyself
  • Inform thyself
  • Motivate thyself
  • Connect thyself
  • Submit thyself

Look for patterns

Think about what you’ve enjoyed doing throughout your life.

What were the projects or initiatives that were really fun, fulfilling, made you feel good about yourself, and gave you the sense that you made a difference?

Take some time alone to reflect on this question. Go for a walk. Get quiet. Get out some paper and make a list. You may be surprised at what you unveil.

When I look back on my life, I see patterns. I love communication. I enjoy making videos for non-profits. I like to write. I love to influence people. I adore teaching, and I realized that everything I do has a teaching motivation, whether it’s speaking, writing, or producing. I’m a news junkie, and I love to tell stories. I love the challenge of trying to represent God accurately and without all the religious baggage.

It was only as I began to create Get Control Of Your Life that I remembered some things I did as a child. Wow, I found patterns!

As a little blond-headed girl of maybe 8 or 9, I decided to publish a newspaper. (See me in the cover photo of this post.) I apparently wrote some articles and glued the tiny comic from bubble gum or Cracker Jack (caramel coated popcorn and peanuts with a “prize”) for the comic section of my “paper.” I then posted the paper on the light pole in front of our house.

Years later, as an adult, I was the copy editor on a hospital ship called The Anastasis. With a typewriter (we’re talking 1982-83) and a lousy photocopier, I “published” The Daily Plan-It, a takeoff on The Daily Planet where Clark Kent (Superman) and Lois Lane worked. It was great fun, and I loved informing my shipmates of key announcements and putting a smile on their faces with little anecdotes and jokes.

Another thing I did as a kid was pretend to be a news anchor, and one night I performed the news in front of my parents and grandparents. I must have been quite young because it was that night I learned what a weather forecast is! As a graduate student in the late 1980s, I worked on a weekly newscast on The Family Channel and got to be a real news anchor. In the 1990s I worked for two news stations in Dallas.

Now I’m a bona fide blogger and soon-to-be podcaster. I’m writing, telling stories, connecting others to resources, and sharing ideas

What patterns and connections do you see in your life?

Know thyself

Take some personality tests to get to know yourself.

The most researched and written-about profile is the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator. I use this test in my college interpersonal communication class because it helps students not only understand themselves better, but also those around them, with the goal of developing healthier relationships.

The test is normally given by trained and certified MBTI professionals. However, you can take a free version of the test here: http://www.truity.com/test/type-finder-personality-test

The MBTI looks at the 4 dimensions:

  • Introvert or Extravert
  • Sensing or Intuitive
  • Thinking or Feeling
  • Judging or Perceptive

You can read more about the MBTI here: http://www.myersbriggs.org/my-mbti-personality-type/mbti-basics/

StrengthsFinder can give you another great profile. You buy the book (which is much cheaper than it was just 2 years ago) and get a code in the back to take the test online. This particular profile evaluates you on 34 dimensions and tells you what your top five are. The philosophy is that you develop a sense of your strengths and then put your energy into making them even better. Improving your strengths instead of focusing on your weaknesses has proven to be a much better strategy.

If you’ve never done this profile, I encourage you to get the book and do it! (Be careful not to get a used book as the code for taking the online test has probably been used.)

Inform thyself

Read books and credible websites. Listen to podcasts. Be a learner.

You’ve heard me quote from the famous American basketball coach John Wooden: “Five years from now, you’re the same person except for the people you’ve met and the books you’ve read.”

Timing is essential. There is nothing better than the right resource at the right time. You have to find the ones that are right for you.

This past year I have especially appreciated Falling Upward: A Spirituality for the Two Halves of Life by Richard Rohr. This Franciscan monk is a deeply spiritual and articulate man who describes the two halves of life as: 1) Building your box, as in figuring out who you are and how you’re going to support yourself, and 2) Living out of your box, which comes naturally in the 2nd half of life.

The other book that was timely for me was Quitter: Closing the Gap Between Your Day Job & Your Dream Job by Jon Acuff. Acuff works on the Dave Ramsey team, a group famous for their advice on finances and getting out of debt. But they are increasingly working to help people be winners in every aspect of their lives. In Quitter, Acuff is encouraging about helping you turn your passion into your profession, by doing it in the right way and in the right time.

Some other recommended books I’ve encountered recently are:

48 Days to the Work You Love: Preparing for the New Normal by Dan Miller

No More Dreaded Mondays: Ignite Your Passion – and Other Revolutionary Ways to Discover Your True Calling at Work also by Dan Miller

Start: Punch Fear in the Face, Escape Average and Do Work that Matters by Jon Acuff

Read and listen to resources that will take you to the next level.

Motivate thyself

It’s easy to get down in the dumps, lose hope, and feel stuck. Spend time around people who are positive and encouraging. There are people who are a joy to be around. Hang out with them.

Watch videos and read stuff that lifts your spirit. If you haven’t seen Eric Thomas’ video shared in another post, watch it now!

Connect thyself

I found that getting a life coach was one of the best things I ever did. Unlike counseling (that focuses on the past), life coaching is all about the future. A good coach is one who listens and does not tell you what to do; rather they help guide you into the future. As a client, you set the agenda, you set determine what areas of your life you want to work on, and you set measurable goals.

Also connect yourself to others by networking. Hang out with people who have the life you wish you had. Network with people on a similar journey.

Submit thyself

Submitting yourself to God and others is a wise thing to do. There are areas of our lives we are blind to, things we just don’t see. While we think we have an accurate picture of ourselves, we actually have an extremely limited perspective.

No one knows you like God and yourself (the second is quite distant to the former but nevertheless significant). Pray. Ask for spiritual guidance. Ask for Ah-Ha! moments that will project you into a bright and fulfilling future.

Get advice from people you trust; they likely have some helpful insight to offer when they know it would be welcomed.

Life’s too short not to be doing what you love and are good at. Turn your “Thank God it’s Friday” into “Thank God it’s Monday” because you can’t wait to get back to what you love.

Reminder…

  • Look for patterns: Reflect on times in your life when you felt alive. What patterns do you see?
  • Know thyself: Take some personality tests. You may be surprised what you learn about yourself.
  • Inform thyself: Read, listen and learn.
  • Motivate thyself: Hang out with positive and encouraging people. Listen to motivational voices.
  • Connect thyself: Find a life coach. Connect with others who are doing what you want to do or who are on a similar journey.
  • Submit thyself: Seek Ah-Ha! moments from others you trust.
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