Ask Not What They Want To Be When They Grow Up. Ask Your Children What They Want To Be TODAY!

Posted: May 31, 2017

What should you ask about what they want to be when your children grow up? A personal account of how this writer came to her conclusions.

Every time I hear someone asking this question to my 11 year old son, I immediately go down memory lane, when I was exactly the same age and faced the same question thrown at me. I don’t remember what my response was, but I certainly do remember what I wanted to be at every age group and how that has shaped what I would like to do NOW.

When I was 11 years old, all I could dream of was to be a teacher.

For me that was the noblest profession and I was besotted at the thought of emulating my favorite teachers back in school. I vividly remember how I would happily drape my mother’s sari around me and imitate a teacher conducting a class, distributing books to children and walking around in the bedroom pretending to be monitoring the students. My mother along with my older siblings would watch this act with great amusement and I too was thrilled to do this role –play . This went on for quite some time and I thought this is all what I would like to do.

By the time I was eighteen years old, while I still maintained that teaching was a noble profession, my aspirations and interest had changed and now all I wanted to be was an air-hostess.

At 5’7 inches height and with the right volume to accompany it (how I miss those days and that dream weight) I was confident of meeting the prerequisites to be certified as an air-hostess and I was already dreaming of being up in the air. Every time I would look at a picture of a smart and sassy air-hostess, I knew I had it in me to become one and so I was secretly building my hopes of getting there soon. I somehow mustered the courage to declare my dreams to my Haanikarak Bapu (lovingly known as my Dad) and all hell broke loose. He couldn’t understand what had hit me and by his reaction and response, I knew what had hit me and so the dream of becoming a suave air-hostess went flying up in the air.

After completing my graduation, the most obvious option was to pursue my M.B.A and so I earnestly started my rigorous preparation to crack all the entrance exams and the works, to get into a decent management institute. And thankfully my parent’s prayers were answered and I was now enrolled to do my master’s degree.

All along, I was very inclined towards human relations and organizational behavior, but somehow I ended up opting for Marketing as my specialization. After completing my management degree, I did my debut in the corporate world with a large FMCG company as part of the Sales task force. After a brief stint with them, I joined the BPO (business process outsourcing sector) which was just about picking up steam in the country and was glad to be a part of this sector since its inception. Since then, I have worked in the BPO domain for over 16 years managing large teams and leading customer service, training and development.

I was totally soaked up in the corporate web and went through the roller-coaster ride of the corporate cycle, loaded with a huge amount of learning, a great team, crazy schedules, fancy designations, hectic travel plans, nagging and over demanding clients, all types of obsessive compulsive bosses and thankfully never a victim of Monday blues.

In the midst of all this madness, I happily ventured into my own home production (with the birth of my son) and enjoyed my well-deserved share of sabbaticals.  I was very proud of the fact that I was a MOM ( Mother of Multi-Tasking) and that I was financially thriving and contributing to the home kitty and I couldn’t ever imagine doing anything else until I was at the official retirement age.

But somewhere, by the time I was around 38 years old, I started to feel very restless and anxious about the way things were going, did not enjoy the monotony of the fancy grind and was beginning to deeply introspect and question the change in my thoughts and feelings.

I am extremely blessed to have my best-friend cum husband who is always my sounding board and never gets bored of listening to my stories, and who brings a great deal of sensibleness and calmness into our lives.

I realized that I was now at a stage where I was seeking what really mattered to me and how I wanted to spend my time daily for the rest of my life. There was a constant urge to figure out the larger picture and to focus only on doing what brought joy and peace into our lives. And while I was thriving in my career and all factors were extremely favorable for me to continue the straightforward path, I was keen to not follow this, but follow what I discovered from my inner self – my passion to be a happiness coach and devote myself to this cause until my last breath. It isn’t a difficult decision at all, but only if you have the right support (in this case clearly my better half) and the courage and determination to walk down the path less traveled.

I couldn’t have been happier to have embarked on my passion and every day I feel immense gratitude for being able to do this. And coming back to the question I was asked when I was 11 years old, I couldn’t in my wildest dreams ever had imagined being a happiness coach (I didn’t know there was even something like this until few years ago) and I dread to think of the pressure our children deal with to think about what they want to be when they grow up.

This has been deeply ingrained in me and so I decided to simply ask my son ‘”Beta, tu aaj kya banega” (what would you like to be today)? Because honestly, that’s really what matters and that’s the moment of truth.

My son very sheepishly told me he wants to be a ‘dog specialist’ and was stunned to see how happy and proud I was on hearing it. That’s what not he expected, and that’s now what we have been used to as children when we shared this with our folks. We were always advised to follow the chosen path (mostly chosen by them) and while this may have worked for most of us then, today it’s a different world of dreams and aspirations.

There is no greater joy than letting your child live their dream of the day and trust me, this ability to dream and work towards making this dream happen will go a long way in building their foundation of grit and perseverance. The dreams may change but the skills shall only strengthen with time and age. I took 40 years to finally figure out what I would like to do, then how I can I expect my 11 year old to figure out what he wants to be in future?

Just ask your child “Beta, aaj kya banega?” and enjoy the fun ride!

Image source: shutterstock

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I am Rachana Gupta, a happy and highly spirited woman, who loves being the sunshine

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