What Do You Want To Be When You Grow Up?

When we were asked as small children what we’d like to be when we grew up we would come up with every answer under the sun:

  • Vet
  • Astronaut
  • Firefighter
  • Teacher
  • Circus performer
  • A Ninja
  • Breed fire-breathing dragons
  • Become a dog

In a child’s mind it is all completely possible: You will to be a teacher in the morning, a vet during lunch, circus performer after school and then turn into a dog just before dinnertime because then you won’t be made to sit at the table, before shifting your attention to growing your flock of fire-breathing dragons just before bedtime.

Pretty standard stuff for a six year old, and easily achievable life goals.

When that question pops up when you’re in your teenage years there’s a subtle shift when people ask you more frequently: ‘What do you want to be when you grow up?’ or ‘What do you want to do for a job?’

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You know you have to start making up your mind quickly! You feel the pressure to choose subjects that will put you on the right path for your GCSE exams, which then could dictate what you can do for your A-levels and also university if you want to keep studying.

From the ages of 11 – 14 years old my answer was always the same – I wanted to go to Borneo and work with orangutans in captivity and release them into the wild. That was until I realised that to be of any real use to the work being done out (other than sitting amongst baby orangutans and hugging them (which would be the dream!)) I should probably have a Zoology degree or something similar. Problem was that I sucked at science, so instead I chose the humanities and politics route instead as I loved those subjects, and it started me on my path to where I am on this day.

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My issue has always been with the language used to ask about dreams and goals, as ‘what do you want to do for a job/career’ or ‘what do you want to be’ has an air of singularity about it, as if we need to pick only one thing that we’re good at and want to do, and stick with it for decades.

That is a crazy concept to me!

We are so complex, ever evolving and learning throughout our entire lives, so why do we think our interests and what we want to do with our time or for paid employment don’t change with us?

Although lots of people are able to find that one profession or job they enjoy or are good at, and decide they want to focus on refining their craft and that particular skill for the majority of their working life and are incredibly happy doing so, there are just as many people on the flip side of that coin (myself included) who haven’t.


I’d never known what I wanted ‘to be’ and that question so frequently asked by teachers would scare the crap out of me as I got older and had to decide! So I just delayed making a choice and instead picked lots of subjects at school and university that I enjoyed, with the idea being that it would be more likely I will then find a job in something I liked based on my qualifications. Even finishing my studies I still didn’t know, and was scared to pick one career route to go down when I was job hunting because what if it was the wrong choice? Also, there are so many things I wanted to do!

This list below has been pinned up on a board in my bedroom for a good few years. I wrote it when I was twenty five years old and had just finished studying for my Masters degree. It was clear I had lots of things I wanted to do achieve, but I felt I at least had more direction and had honed down a step by step process of how I was going to work my way up that career ladder within the human rights/charity sector.


Fast forward six years and apart from\ ‘motivational speaker’ and ‘consultancy’ my list of what I want to achieve in my working life has changed dramatically. I still have a huge interest in all of those roles listed above, but right now I don’t want to focus on human rights as my sole actions of my working life, which I partly talked about the reasons why in my past blog post ‘Now for the six o’clock news…are you ready?’

After re-assessing everything, looking at all of my past and recent experiences combined and current interests I have now decided to focus my attention on going down a different route completely, and my current goals that I’m working towards are:

  • Build my own business as a trained Business and Personal Coach
  • Write two books (and then more)
  • Write consistently on this blog, as a backdrop to the business
  • Become a motivational speaker
  • Become involved in consultancy work
  • Run training workshops
  • Maybe do a PhD

I was a full grown adult when I worked out both of those different lists, but the stark difference of my priorities of what I want to achieve has dramatically changed, and I couldn’t be more excited for where my new goals are going to take me in life and what additional ones I will probably come up with in another few years down the line.

Why Am I Telling You This?

Because if you are in a similar boat to me, or thinking about making a career or job change, people could look at your new direction in life and ask; ‘Well, wasn’t all of your past studies at university and past jobs a bit of a waste of time? How is it relevant to what you want to do now?’

My answer is simple: Everything you’ve done has shaped you into who you are today, all of your past steps were necessary and were relevant to you at the time to put you on your own path to get to the exact point where you are in life right now to be having these realisations for where you want to be heading in the future. For me, I’m proving to myself everday that what I’ve learnt in one part of my life can be transferred and applied to another area and direction.

In the current world we live in we now have a new level of options that our parents and grandparents didnt have, and because of that frequently changing jobs and career trajectories is seen as much as the norm as staying in a job for life.

Just because we are adults doesn’t mean that we have got it all figured out, so how we expect the teenagers of the world to be declaring their solid decision of their life trajectory is beyond me, and perhaps we all need to look more into the way we are asking these questions of that generation so that it’s more in line with the multiple options and avenues that are open to them throughout their entire lives.

We are all one big learning curve throughout life and half the time we are making it up as we go along and winging it anyway! So if you’re finding new interests are popping up for you, or that you want a career change, allow yourself to look into those feelings and explore the potential of where that could take you, and if it’s something you really want to do, or at least try, then go for it!

This thing we call life doesn’t have a dress rehearsal part to it.

You only get one shot.

One life.

So live it!


Thanks for reading,









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