Brain Surgeons, Ballerinas, and Ball Players: Our Earliest Career Goals

Almost all of us were quizzed about our career ambitions before we hit first grade.

“What do you want to be when you grow up,” my grandfather asked 5-year-old me.

“A veterinarian,” I responded with certainty.

But then I found out that I would need to give injections and take blood. Maybe even put down an animal now and then. And then, much later, I learned how difficult it was to get accepted into veterinarian school, how much veterinarian school cost, and how many years it would take me to get through it.

So many reasons to reconsider.

It was an interesting query, though, and now that first grade is many decades behind me, I find the response I gave intriguing too … as we all should when we consider our answer to this oft-asked childhood question.

And so, I now pose: What did you want to be when you were young?

A singing astronaut? A professional baseball player? A teacher? An inventor of flying cars?

Your earliest dreams tell a lot about who you were, and maybe who you grew to be.

I never became a veterinarian but I still adore animals, and I’ve owned many throughout the years. Maybe that singing astronaut gig never came through for you, but today you have season tickets to the opera and you’re currently taking lessons to obtain a pilot’s license. Or maybe you did achieve your dream. Maybe you proudly tell your students today that you knew you’d be leading the class from the time you were small.

As you write your life story, be sure to include a section on your childhood aspirations, including your early career ambitions. How did you envision spending your work days? Was your wish a passing desire or did you hold onto it for some time?

Regardless of whether your first-grade pronouncement came to be, what does it say about who you were and what you wanted? What does it say about who you became?

Your earliest dreams definitely have a place in your story.

As always, please let me know if you’d like my help sharing it.