Yesterday I said I’ve always wanted to grow up. What I actually meant to write about when I started that post was this, “what do you want to be when you grow up?” Then I promptly started wondering what it actually means to “grow up.”
I have a nephew who has lots of ideas of things to do when he grows up. Some days he wants to be a wing suit pilot (yes, a base jumper). Other days he wants be an ocean diver (with sharks). Still other days he wants to do is shoot trick shot videos with Dude Perfect.
I find it fascinating to think about how people look at the future versions of themselves and what they see themselves doing. Perhaps even more interesting is the “why” behind those things they would like to do.
If you ask a child what they want to be when they grow up the answer can vary (obviously) quite a bit. When I was younger fellow I’m told I wanted to be a firefighter. (Although I somehow thought that firefighters ran around starting fires.) I also went through a period where I wanted to be a jungle pilot for MAF or JAARS.
When you ask the important “why” question to a child it often comes down to something pretty simple. Because it would be fun. Because I could help people. Because it seems really cool.
Very rarely does a child bring up the aspect of making money.
For some reason as we grow up we tend to switch, at least to some extent, the “why” for the things we want to do? Unfortunately here in America that often means a focus on the financial side of things.
It seems that we start to value people by how much they have in their bank accounts (and measure ourselves the same way). That then tends to affect how we make decisions. In this particular case thinking about careers and our life work.
I’m not going to lie, one of the main reasons I decided to become a developer was because I thought I’d be able to make a good living. Sure, I also happened to enjoy it and was looking for a way to get off of a roofing crew (sorry Karlin, those years were good for me).
For some reason we often get stuck on money
It isn't that money isn't important, it is. It’s just pretty easy to lose focus of what really matters in the things we do. It’s about a quality of life. It’s about the people you interact with. It’s about the way you are able to affect the lives of those around you.
It’s about people. Life is about people.
And for those of you who have kids. I'd say you should consider supporting, to the best of your ability, the things your kid is interested in. Sure maybe they'll grow out of the desire to be a commercial fisherman, or perhaps they'll be able to make it work and become the best fisherman they can be. But for many reasons, perhaps the most important being the bond that is formed between a supportive parent and their child, you’re child deserves your support. Indeed, they need your support.
I get somewhat frustrated when I see/hear of parents pushing their kids, especially teens and college age kids, to do something simply because its what the parent wants them to do, or they think they'll make lots of money doing it. Unfortunately in this situation there also seems to be a large part of the parents worth wrapped up in how successful their children are.
Money is important, but there are plenty of people in third world countries who are barely scraping by financially, yet are enjoying their lives much more fully that some of us are.
I live on a farm for crying out loud. My family makes enough to get by but we sure aren't getting rich. We’ve talked some recently about how we really enjoy providing a place for families to spend time. A lot of times families come out to the farm for the strawberry picking, yet in some ways its less about the strawberries and more about the event of spending time together as a family.
Anyway, I sure don’t have all the answers. In fact I feel pretty much out of answers. But I believe it is healthy for us to consider the why behind what we are doing and what we are asking the next generation to do.
When you look at the equation of a life’s work, don’t forget to add the variables of happiness, enjoyment and quality of life to the equation.
P.S. I don't feel like this post is fully fleshed out, there are some things in here that I'd like to flesh out a bit... but because I said I'd post by 9 a.m. and because I need to go to work... here is what I have.