This post is inspired by a conversation I had two days ago from this being written. I met this young guy from the Navy who was talking about his uncertainties about what he wants to do in the future and that resonates so much in me because I’ve been stuck on that question and questions like those for so many years.
What do I want to do with my life?
What should my career be?
What should my goals be?
And these are all good questions, but I felt like it would leave me at the same level of confusion because my mind would most often impulsively respond with an answer like:
You don’t have enough experience to make a decision about your career at this point.
And then I’d jump back to square one, as undecided as I was before and it became this recurring pattern because I’d grow discouraged and didn’t have it in me to assertively seek out jobs, people, and situations that might interest me and expand my perspective and skills. I felt stuck and still do at times because I’m not always confident about the next step, which usually means that I make the step a little too high in my mind that it overwhelms me, instead of breaking it down into something more manageable and less stressful steps.
Answering those questions felt like going down a dark rabbit hole, and I get deeper and deeper and then it becomes overwhelming and panic creeps in because I’m not where I feel I generally should be. My career has been the biggest thing that I would trip over because I’ve always said to myself that it has to be perfect, which we all know is the lowest standard because we can never reach perfection. I believe the questions can come down to one more foundational.
A transitional question that I found to be not only more reassuring, but more fulfilling to my totality as a human is:
Who do I want to become?
And when I ask myself this question, I get a whole bunch of answers:
I want to be become more confident, caring, passionate, bold, kind, affectionate, focused, present, enthusiastic, physically vibrant, thoughtful, and resilient.
And what are all of these answers? They are qualities. Ariana Huffington, the founder of the Huffington Post, had an amazing speech where she talked about the legacy we leave when we die. And in eulogies, what is often being said?
“Oh Jack, we are so sad to see him leave. He was the most effective car salesman we’ve ever had, increasing sales by %300.”
“Oh Jack, the thing I miss most about him was his smile. When he looked at you, he made you think that you were the only person there because he gave his undivided attention to you. He had such a kind heart and listened to people’s needs and identified what they valued most. That contributed to his success in his sales career as well.”
This example is very hypothetical, but of all the funerals I’ve been to and can remember, everyone spoke most about the kind of person he or she was, not the status or level of success reached in that person’s career. It was about how they treated others, how they made you feel when you were around them, how much they loved, the impact they made on others, the presence they gave, something that can’t be accurately quantified.
So, rather than getting caught up in what it is you want to do first and foremost, a more enriching question could be:
Who do I want to become?
This not only sets you up for an intention at work where you attend to taking on situations that further expand on these qualities, but it in the most general sense becomes a large part of your identity. These are qualities that you can take with you wherever you go by honing on them.
The beautiful thing about this question is that the answers can often become the reasons for what you do thereafter.
What are your thoughts on this? Who do you want to become?