What Do I Want To Be When I Grow Up?

I have NEVER been able to answer this question. NEV-ER. And it is rather odd because I am the ultimate planner, you can just ask my friends. (I am already bugging them about what we are going to do for my birthday and it is weeks away. It’s September 21st if you are taking notes.)

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As a child, teachers and family members alike would ask this question, all assuming I had some fantastic whimsical answer. “I want to be a cowboy, a princess, a firefighter, a policewoman, the President, a cruise ship director, something, anything.” But no, I had nothing. And so I’d sheepishly reply, “I just don’t know.”

When it came time to pick a college, I still had no plan. I applied to two schools that were polar opposites (University of Colorado and Wake Forest) in hopes of simplifying the decision. And after being deferred from Wake Forest from early decision, I didn’t even reapply. My decision was made for me. God wanted me to be a Buffaloe. (And thankfully my father had already insisted I major in Business Administration, so I didn’t have to worry about that decision.)

Ten years post-college, I still have had no real plan. I have jumped from job-to-job without any clear destination. And it has totally worked for me. I love my job. I love my company. There is no question in my mind that I am in the place I am supposed to be. If I had set out as a child to work in communications at a publishing house, I don’t think I could have planned my path better.

But I am starting to wonder. I am starting to wonder if I need to be a little more proactive about my future. First, I read this post by my boss, Michael Hyatt, about Creating a Life Plan. And it got me thinking. Then, I started hanging about with this girl, Jenni Catron, who keeps talking-in-my-ear about leadership. And it got me thinking some more.

Now, I am reflecting on possibility of living life more intentionally. So that maybe next time someone asks, “What do you want to be when you grow up?” I will have a thoughtful answer.

Tell me, have you decided what you want to be when you grow up? Do you have a life plan that guides you there?

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Lindsey has a sincere love for her precious dog Molly, a good red wine and the Delta Sky Club. She spends her days (and some nights) laboring to end childhood hunger at Feed the Children and to gather, equip and unleash women at IF:Gathering.

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

  • http://reneesagon.wordpress.com Renee

    I know what I want to do, as in, I know how I want to make a difference. But I honestly can't say I know what it looks like or the 10 steps to get there… eeeep. I turn 30 on September 22 I might want to get on it!! Great post!

    • http://intensedebate.com/people/Lindsey_Nobles Lindsey_Nobles

      Our birthdays are neighbors. That is fun!

  • http://intensedebate.com/people/JasonWert JasonWert

    Honestly…right now I have no idea. The things I thought I wanted to do blew up in my face and failure is not a plan for the future. I HATE not having a plan and feeling this way. I clicked the link to your boss' blog entry and I'm going to really read that over.

    • http://intensedebate.com/people/Lindsey_Nobles Lindsey_Nobles

      You are so not alone in that! I just told someone that I need to write why I haven't done it before. It's harder to pin down. Maybe I'll do that tomorrow?

      Thanks for commenting. Noticed that you and your wife visited CrossPoint this weekend. I hope you will go back. I freakin' love that place. Let me know if you do. I'd love to say hey.

      • http://intensedebate.com/people/JasonWert JasonWert

        We'll be there. We'll be going to the 8:30 service 'cause we like to go early and have the rest of the day. :)

  • Breanna

    Oh my goodness, I could have written this exact same post about myself. I also only applied to two colleges and chose the one that gave me the biggest scholarship (still wasn't much, but oh well). I had no real plans or goals. And I still don't. Sometimes it's nice to be floating along…but lately I've had that creeping feeling that I'm not really doing myself any favors by being this way. Like you, I've started to realize that I should be more proactive about my life. It's hard to make these kinds of changes, isn't it? I'm rooting for both of us!

    • http://intensedebate.com/people/Lindsey_Nobles Lindsey_Nobles

      Yes, so hard. I'm rooting for us too!

  • StephinLex

    Seriously, I feel like we're living parallel lives! Only I knew exactly what I wanted to be 'round about mid-college years, became it shortly after college, and have been trying to figure out what I want to be ever since. Thank you for the challenging, inspiring (and still yet terrifying) post.

    • http://intensedebate.com/people/Lindsey_Nobles Lindsey_Nobles

      I loved your comment on my Scaredy Cat post. Love that you get it! You so get it!

  • http://jennicatron.tv Jenni Catron

    I feel like I've always had an idea of what I want to do and yet I would have never predicted specifically where I am today. I think I've learned to answer that question by answering it with what I know God has gifted me to do. It might not be a specific job, but it's consistently doing the things that are in line with who I am. Does that make any sense?

    BTW – thanks for letting me ramble leadership musings to you all the time :)

    • http://intensedebate.com/people/Lindsey_Nobles Lindsey_Nobles

      Makes total sense. And I enjoy your rambling leadership musings. You are so doing what you are gifted to do. It is fun to watch.

  • http://www.callwhenyougetthere.com Jenn Calling Home

    Hi! Stopped by for a visit after seeing your tweet-follow. :) I have never had a life plan, but right now I am exactly where I wanted to be–where I dreamed of being–22 years ago when I graduated from college. It's funny, sometimes God takes a long time preparing you for something…but the wait is totally worth it!

    • http://intensedebate.com/people/Lindsey_Nobles Lindsey_Nobles

      Thanks for stopping by!

  • http://www.givinguponperfect.com/ Mary

    Hi Lindsey,

    I have the same problem! I have had several jobs – all great, and all fitting some part of my personality and using some part of my skills. But I continue to feel like there’s something else out there. All this, even though I’m a planner, too!

    Actually, in the last couple of years, I have come to realize that Christian publishing would be a great fit for all of my personality and skills. Until I can get there, though, I’ll probably still stammer and stutter when people ask me (because they still do) what I want to be when I grow up! :)

    • http://intensedebate.com/people/Lindsey_Nobles Lindsey_Nobles

      Christian publishing is a good place to be :)

  • http://pathfromtheheadtotheheart.wordpress.com Chrystie

    Yikes! I hate this question. I love Jenni's answer about just doing those things that are in line with what God has gifted her to do. That's a wise statement. If I think BIG, then I would LOVE to do something like travel the world, speaking into the hearts of women and encouraging them in their walk with Christ.

    • http://intensedebate.com/people/Lindsey_Nobles Lindsey_Nobles

      Jenni is always full of good advice. You should always thing BIG!

  • http://forrestlongart.com Forrest Long

    I think you've got a common problem, that is if it's even a problem. I'm 57 and I'm still not sure what I want to be when I grow up. I spent most of my life in ministry, until about eight years ago. Now I write and paint and am looking for the next big challenge. Even if you don't know what you want to do ultimately, it's important just to keep doing, to keep moving ahead. As they say, it's alot easier to steer a moving ship, so just keep in motion. You'll find the right course of life eventually.

    • http://intensedebate.com/people/Lindsey_Nobles Lindsey_Nobles

      I agree about the moving forward thing. I have been stuck before and it is the worst feeling. I love the analogy of turning a car being easier when the car is in motion.

  • http://twitter.com/christyliz80 @christyliz80

    well, I always wanted to be a writer, but felt like that's pretty ambiguous, like saying I want to be an artist, or I want to be a communicator. Looking from the outside, you seem like you're happy with what you have career-wise. I think everyone needs a life plan, but also needs the wisdom and faith to take a detour when necessary, or paddle back on course after drifting off. I hope you find what you're searching for!

    • http://intensedebate.com/people/Lindsey_Nobles Lindsey_Nobles

      Yep, detours happen.

  • http://sandraking-beholding-god.blogspot.com/ Sandra King

    I turned 60 this year, and I'm still not grown up. Not sure I ever will be. I seem to live my life in seasons. Actually, I've been writing since I was a child with a few pieces published here and there, but when I was young, I never realized I had much in the way of career choices except teaching or nursing. I chose the latter, although my mother wanted me to be an airline "stewardess" so she could benefit from reduced travel rates. If I had followed my heart then or had been more intentional, I might have avoided some heartaches, but I also would have missed some adventures, all of which are providing grist now. At any rate, whatever plans we make, they need to be flexible, because in the end it's all about letting God do the driving. Sometimes He takes us through lovely rolling hills and level plains, but sometimes He veers off on rutted roads over steep mountains and into dark valleys. It's a matter of hanging on and enjoying the journey.

    • http://intensedebate.com/people/Lindsey_Nobles Lindsey_Nobles

      I imagine I will never feel grown up either. I think that is a good way to be because grown-ups take themselves so seriously. ;)

  • Ali

    Gosh, Lindsey, you are fortunate that your life has headed on the path it is on without major planning. I have tried to do some planning, and I have not ended up where I want to be at all. I have a Master's in Education as well as a law degree. I practiced law for all of five minutes and realized that I liked the academic aspects of it more than the practical. However, I would not be able to teach because I did not go to a top-tier law school, and that really matters when you want to teach.

    I was thrown into a career that I am not completely passionate about. At 38–almost 39–I realize that I need to set some goals. I can't hop from position to position anymore. I am finally learning that I am truly a people person and that I thrive on working with people (rather than around them, which is my current situation).

    I know I am blessed to have a job that pays the bills and provides me with excellent health care. But I am not ready to settle for feeling less than happy with my career path. Perhaps I will never love my job, but I definitely want to use the gifts God has endowed me with.

    • http://intensedebate.com/people/Lindsey_Nobles Lindsey_Nobles

      Ali, don't settle. At least strive for happiness/contentment. And remember that life is all about the journey and not the destination.

  • http://intensedebate.com/people/Peter_P Peter_P

    When I grow up, I want to be whatever God wants me to be… and I don't think I will be 'grown up' until I step aside and let him make me into the man he wants me to become!

    • http://intensedebate.com/people/Lindsey_Nobles Lindsey_Nobles

      When we were little we had this album by The Bill Gaither Trio and there was this song, "I am a Promise." Your comment made me think of it. And now I am stuck on it. So you are in trouble!

      • http://intensedebate.com/people/Peter_P Peter_P

        Don't blame me… blame Bill Gaither!

        Now… how did that song go again?

        :-)

  • http://intensedebate.com/people/torybee torybee

    I'm 38 and I've no clue! Really I don't. I'm married to a wonderful man who does have life plans and goals and he sure does reach them and I'm just along for the ride it seems. This is the first year all 3 of my kids are in school and I now have to wonder: Who am I outside of being a mother and wife and what are my skills, passions and how do I go about even deciphering that?

    • http://intensedebate.com/people/Lindsey_Nobles Lindsey_Nobles

      Torybee, You should read Mike's post, if you haven't already. It sounds like it would be a great exercise for you because you could think intentionally about who you want to be as a wife, a mother, and a person.

      • http://illustrated-queries.blogspot.com/ torybee

        I hadn’t read it, at least not yet. Off to do that. Thanks for the suggestion!

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  • http://www.jessiwhitt.wordpress.com Jessi (@kittahboo)

    I'm in that situation right now. It's tough because the job I am doing today has nothing to do with what I went to college for plus I don't even know what I want to be when I grow up and if I did I don't know how to go about getting there. There are times when I feel like I'm not using the abilities that God has given me, but my job pays the bills and is stable. I feel bad for wanting to find a job where I can feel productive and use my creativity when so many people are struggling to find a job and pay their bills. I'm just struggling in knowing how to use the gifts God has given me either inside or outside of work!

    • http://intensedebate.com/people/Lindsey_Nobles Lindsey_Nobles

      I know. This recession (?) is making us feel like we don't necessarily have the right to want more.

  • http://www.thehahnhuntinglodge.com Nikole Hahn

    When I was a teenager, the teacher asked us to write down where we would be in the year 2000. I wrote, "Writer, living on a ranch in the wilderness." Well, I am a writer of small press items, but I don't live on a ranch. Instead, I live five minutes from wilderness hiking, fishing (okay ten minutes, maybe twenty), and I have the view of the mountains from my house in a subdivision. I figure I'm half way anyway. I guess I have always known what I wanted and I've always been puzzled that others don't know having never been in the position. I hope you find a place in this world and live intentionally. It sounds like you are quite set in life.

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