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When I grow up I want to be…

When you were little, what did you want to be when you grew up? Was it the same thing all the time, or did it change? And are you that now? Were you ever that? Did you ever wonder why the question was always singular? Why couldn’t you be a firefighter and ballerina and a lawyer? Why did you have to choose only one?

Kids in career costumes

More and more in our changing economic times, we talk about our work life in terms of reinvention. We may choose one career path for a while and then go in a different direction – and new careers open up as possibilities while others close down. It’s exciting and often scary! Why then, do we still ask our kids what one thing they want to be when they grow up when we know they are likely to be many things over time? Why not introduce out kids to the idea of regular life reinvention now?

Casting a wide net

Just like you, your kids have many interests that change over time. Yes, it’s silly to ask a three year old child what they want to be when they grow up at and expect them to hold to it. But it’s more about making sure you are asking about how many different things they might want to be – and explore – as they get older. It’s subtle, but important. Cast a wide net in encouraging interests now, all of which potentially lead to an interesting adult work life, and don’t limit the possibilities!

Phases of life and work

Work life for our parents and grandparents was vastly different than it is for us, and how we work likely is different than how our kids will work. Economies and markets are different and changing. But some things don’t change: different phases of life have different priorities and different interests.

Communicating how work changes over time from both an economic perspective and a personal perspective now can help enable your child — years from now — to recognize and take advantage of different opportunities in the workplace and different personal needs. What work means to us at different phases of life often necessitates different efforts and different skills – and different jobs!

No limits

Your kids can be more than one thing when they grow up, and they likely will be, too! They can be a firefighter and a ballerina and a lawyer, just maybe not all at once. But whatever you do, make sure your kids know there are no limits. Start talking about career reinvention now – and you may even find the courage to do your own bit of reinvention!

Ask a 4 year old

What do you want to be when you grow up?

Emma Claire reminds us all how incredible it was to be four-years-old with her answer to the age-old question, “What do you want to be when you grow up?” Her answers include doctor, vet, artist (“which she is already,”) and “circus girl”.

More on career choices

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