I'm still deciding. I've been thinking about this a lot lately. I have a daughter who is finished highschool, another who is almost finished her first year of highschool and then there is me, who has been home for six years raising children. What am I going to do when I grow up? My children get to decide for themselves. I get to decide for me. What about you? What are you going to be when you grow up?
Someone I listen to quite often, Dr. Wayne Dyer, was asked a question by a caller on his radio show. It was a man who was a lawyer. He was 43 years old(my age coincidentally) and he said he didn't want to be a lawyer anymore, he wanted to go back to school to do something else. But the problem was that he was 43, it would take 2 years to complete the new degree, law was pretty stable, he could make a decent living but he was just tired of it.
Dr. Dyer's answer was very revealing and valid to me. First he asked the man "When did you decide to become a lawyer?" to which the man answered "When I was 17". Dr. Dyer then said to him "so you are letting a 17 year old decide what you are going to do with the rest of your life?". Then he asked the man "How old will you be in two years if you don't go back to school?" The man answered "45" and then Dr. Dyer asked him "How old will you be in two years if you do go back to school?" to which the man replied again "45". So Dr. Dyer said "So there you go, why not go back to school? Isnt' it better to be 45 and doing what you love to do than 45 and still doing something you don't want to do with two years of regret under your belt". There is such great wisdom there.
I've done so many things as a job or career over the years, I've enjoyed all of them for a while but I truly cannot say I was passionate about any of them. When I was a teen I dreamt of being a writer, becoming a journalist. I was told that I should not do that, I'd never get a job doing that, There was no money in it. I should go to University, become a teacher which I did. After a few years I dropped out. Fortunately. I would have been miserable as a teacher. I don't think I would have been happy in a school setting as a teacher. I'm not really a conformist and I'm not all that compliant either. A child would have come to me and said "I don't know why we have to study Shakespeare to go to graduate high school" and I would have been unable to disagree with him(and I personally love Shakespeare, read it for enjoyment)but really, why does an engineer need Shakespeare? And now, I find, after all these years, all I still want to do is write.
So how does one decide what to do with the rest of their lives? What process should one undertake? I've got a slightly different set of criteria for making that decision than your regular guidance counsellor. Again, likely another reason I don't belong in academics. And my goal for you wouldn't be to get you a job or a career, my goal would be to get you a happy, fulfilled life. They are not mutually exclusive but not generally the way school guidance offices carry out their duties.
The first thing you need to do is look at what you love to do. Think back to the one thing that you could do happily for the rest of your life. For me it's writing and drawing. It's completely fun for me, there is no work involved. It is something I love to do, am compelled to do and am passionate about. It's creative and cathartic,yes indeed, it is my passion. For you it may be music, for others it might be caring for children. I remember meeting a mom at her house who apologised for the mess, she had spent the morning, the entire morning playing forts with her kids. I love kids but I was in awe of her ability to enjoy playing with them. She went on to become an early childhood educator and now has her own daycare centre. She's blissfully happy in her career.
I know for some people it's hard to figure out what that is so this may take you a little time. You have to get away from the paradigm of thinking in terms of work and include anything you love to do although it may not traditionally fall into the category of work. Gardening? Organizing? Cleaning?(really?)Building things? Designing things? Planning events? There are a multitude of possible answers. Your heart knows the one that is yours. Listen to it.
The next thing you have to do is take money out of the picture. Do not ever consider how much you will make doing this. Yes we all have to earn a living, feed our families, eat food, however we generally need far less than we think to get by. The expectation of a person to make a lot of money often is the biggest factor in keeping them from doing what they actually really want to do. A lot of us find ourselves at a certain rethinking everything we've every done. Yes you have to earn a living, no you don't have to make a career out of it. If you move towards doing the thing you love while believing, knowing, with all your heart you will be a success at it, money and abundance will come to you. Know that, it's the truth.
I mentioned before the expectations of others. This is another thing that often leads people on the road to the wrong career. The expectation that you will do this, that or the other thing. You will follow in your father's footsteps, you will become something because you have the ability to do so, not because you have the love of that something. I do not want someone practicing medicine on me because they have an ability to do biology and chemistry. I want a Doctor who became one because he loved humanity and wanted to play a part in its well being. I fear I see a lot of the former and it's not a good thing. So let go of the expectations others have placed on you. They only get to live their lives, you are the one who gets to live yours and it's precious,short and significant. Don't get bogged down in the "shoulds" of your family and friends and society. Do your own thing, live your passion, live your dream. You can and should do no less.
The next thing, and most important thing is to move in the direction you have to go in to attain what you want. Move steadily on the path towards your goal. Look for the opportunity to do the thing you love. Make time, make it your priority. Find like-minded people and share your passion. Start writing, get a part-time job or volunteer doing the work you love, play your music, start your own band, banish any thoughts that you can't do it and move into the realm of I can, I am and I will do what I love with my life.
You have got to stop making excuses(and you know you are). Stop. If you love to do something, whether it's gardening, engineering, playing guitar, get in there and do it. You may have to take some courses to upgrade your skills but again this will lead you to meet like-minded people and help you break into whatever field you need to. If you've always loved to cook and want to be a chef you'll need to go to cooking school. Those options are always available.
But you may not have to. I'm a big fan of adult homeschooling. Go online and look for workshops and courses in the field you are interested in. You have no idea how many free writing workshops and free drawing courses there are online. There are free guitar lessons, piano lessons, American Sign language tutorials. It's incredible the resources we have now thanks to technology. If you are a singer or a musician start putting your videos on YouTube, start writing your songs, start singing for whoever will listen. It's what you have to do.
Begin to identify yourself with your passion. I tell people "I am a writer" because I am. Tell people "I'm a Gardener" or "I'm a musician" because you are. It's what you are, deep down inside in your soul, it's the truth and be sure to embrace the truth of it. It will keep you going towards your passion.
Do not be afraid of failure. There is no failure in doing what you love. There are differing results, on thing may not work out the way you thought it would but another opportunity will show up. Follow the flow of life knowing things are as they should be. I've heard famous actors say "after fifteen years, I became and overnight success". I think differently. I think they were successful all those fifteen years if they were doing what they love. They may not have worldwide recognition but they were living their dream and that is success.
There is a saying "Don't die with your music still in you", and I think it's very important to heed that advice. It is unfair to the world to have beautiful music that needs to be heard, to have wonderful skills that can help society, that can make this world a better place and not use them. It's unfair to society but mostly it's unfair to wonderful, divine you. Get out there and be what you love to do because you can do nothing less and be happy in life.
Song: Don't die with Your Music inside you from the soundtrack of the movie The Shift. Click here.