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“What do you want to be when you grow up?”

We were often asked this question when we were kids and we always had a ready answer.

“I want to be a doctor. A teacher. A lawyer.”

All it took was a smile and a few seconds of closing our eyes and thinking about it.

At the time, we were 100% sure of what our dream job is. It was easy right?

Fast forward to now and the answer doesn’t feel that simple.

The question “What do you want to be when you grow up” requires more than just a few seconds of thinking and, it takes more than just a smile to figure out the career that best suits you. You are trying to figure out what you want to be now so that you can answer the question where you want to be 5 years from now.

When it comes to answering these 2 questions, it takes you to a place of more questions to get to the real answer.

Sit back and ponder for a moment. Answer the questions WHAT, WHY, HOW and WHEN.

1.  What career is right for you?

It’s important to figure out the career that excites you the most – the one that makes you want to wake up in the morning and bring out the best in you. Reflect on the activities that are the most enjoyable for you. What comes easy to you and you can get lost for hours doing it?

2.  Why do you want to pursue this career?

Once you’re able to determine some career options, ask yourself why? What draws you to it? Is it because it’s something that suits your personality? Or it might be a job that allows you to serve others and make an impact? Consider your skills, expertise and strengths so that you can use them as you move towards the realization of your dream career.

3.  How do you achieve the career you want?

Take inventory of what it is going to take to get to your dream career. Does it require more education? Will it require a different pay and lifestyle level? Are those kinds of jobs readily available where you live?

There are many things to think about when you are looking to navigate to the career you want.

4.  When do you want to achieve it?

Be realistic on when you can transition to another career. Take inventory of what things need to happen and in what order. Also, a timeline will help in keeping you motivated. Set deadlines for each of your goals – whether short or long-term ones and that will give you a sense of accomplishment. Being able to accomplish them within the time frame that you’ve set will make you feel that you are progressing towards your overall career goals.

In life, this question can be hard for many people to answer. It is because of 2 major reasons: 1) You never took the time to self-assess these questions and research career options and 2) you were not exposed or knew about more career options to consider. Did you know there are 31,000 career options according to the Department of Labor? So, it is not easy to pick and get it right as an 18-year-old graduating from high school. But, take the time now to answer the age-old question-What do you want to be when you grow up? Whether it be the same job or a totally different one, you are free to choose, and the time is now. Another 5 years will be here before you know it!

If you need help figuring out which career direction to head into, feel free to send me a note here on LinkedIn.

Barbara Mason is a career consultant that brings over 20 years Human Resources experience and has been in senior level roles for Fortune 500 companies. She is the owner and CEO of Career Pathways Consulting and her passion is helping career professionals stay, flow, or go in their career.

To learn more about working with her, visit www.careerpathwaysconsulting.com.

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