Well, what’s the answer to this riddle? What is the easiest question to answer as a kid but one that only get’s harder to answer as we grow older? Any takers? The answer is what I call The Golden Question…
The Golden Question: What do you want to do with your life?
Do you agree? How was this question so easy to answer when we were six years old but as adults it became mind-boggling? As kids, full of ambition and imagination, it was easy to dream of what we wanted to do tomorrow or years down the road. I remember vividly somebody asking six- year-old me, “Well, little Timmy, what do you want to be when you grow up?” And I answered this question from the purest part of my heart just like I’m sure many of you reading this did as well. What was your answer as a kid? Do you remember? Was it always the same or did it change a million times?
Mine was to be G.I. Joe (or a soldier).
Many of you probably wanted to become professional athletes, astronauts, cowboys, princesses, doctors, teachers, etc. We found out what made us happy in that moment and we convinced ourselves that’s exactly what we wanted to do with our lives when we grew up and that nothing would stand in our way! But then as we grew older, something changed…
We realized how difficult the path to our dreams would be. We also start to let society sway our choices. As kids, we don’t care how realistic being a cowboy is, we just know it’s what we want. We don’t care if it pays well, has job security, offers a retirement plan or has competitive benefits….it made us happy and that was all that mattered.
But that changes as we face the pressures that come with adult life. It becomes harder to answer the Golden Question as we grow older because we often change from “what do we want to do with our lives” to “what we do need to do”.
We have to pay bills and provide for our families, start a career, pursue a degree, etc. and those pressures didn’t exist as a kid…
We realize that being a cowboy or a princess doesn’t help us write that rent or mortgage check so we shift our focus to something else.
Those same pressures are what convinced me to change my major 7 times before dropping out of college completely and enlisting in the military…
We push our dreams and ambitions to the side for the peace that comes with stability and security…
But is there really peace when our dreams are ignored?
When I left for college, I had convinced myself that I had no idea what I wanted to do with my life, even though I did. My heart told me I wanted to become a soldier but society told me to take a different path. My friends all wanted college degree’s so that I meant I should too, right? Wrong. I dreamed of life as a soldier but adult life convinced me to pursue something different. I stopped focusing on what would make me happy and wondered why I was so miserable in school…
But the day I dropped out of college was one of the best days of my life and here’s why. Life is too unpredictable to follow any other path than the one you want for yourself. I’m not telling you to quit your job to go become a cowboy in the Great Plains because I’m offering you an alternative…..
What if a simple change to The Golden Question made it easier to answer as adults? What if we shifted our focus from what we wanted to be to who we wanted to become.
Ask yourself, “who do I want to be? And see if your answer changes. It doesn’t matter if your are 16 or 60.
So let me go first. Who do I want to be when I grow up?
I want to be someone who cares for others. I want to have the freedom to find different ways to impact the world. I want to be someone who is reliable, dedicated and passionate. I want to be a needed member of a team and a leader who others come to in their time of need. I want to be a good role model for my daughter and an excellent partner for my wife.
Now suddenly, the specifics of what I do for a living matter so much less as the focus is now shifted to how I live my life and who I am as a person.
This change in focus is what helped convince me to drop out of school to enlist because that’s where my heart was. I firmly believe that the stress of life will be present whether you are a millionaire or poor. Whether you have a job with a 401 (k) or not. Whether others accept your life choices or not. Stress is everywhere but we must decide for ourselves what stress we are willing to deal with.
For me, I would rather live everyday doing what I love even if that meant I may never be a financial titan. To me, the question of what and who I want to be as I grow older became pretty simple to answer once I changed the way I thought about it. I want to be a better man tomorrow than I am today. I want to be the best version of myself I can be. I want to inspire others to pursue their dreams and ambitions and I want to make the world a better place. I want to be someone who makes God smile – in whatever profession that may be.
Live the life that makes your heart full and never settle for less.
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