What do you want to be when you grow up? It’s a question we all got when we were children.
My own answers to that question were all over the place and would change pretty frequently.
In trying to remember what my answers were, I’m sure I probably said any of the following on any given day: a teacher, an author, a businesswoman, an artist, etc.
But the only one I distinctly remember being the most sure about was a fashion designer. That was after my grandmother gave me some Fashion Plates for Christmas one year.
I loved my fashion plates and enjoyed the creativity of them. They made me want to learn how to really sketch clothing designs by hand.
What did you want to be when you grew up? What do you still want to be?
So when I got to high school I decided to take art all four years to learn how to sketch.
That is until I got into my first year of art where I ditched the idea of becoming a fashion designer (or an artist) after my art teacher made my life a living a hell.
She was such a rigid woman, too rigid to be teaching anything that’s supposed to be creative. Her teaching methods and personality made me never want to take another art class again.
Has there ever been a person or an experience in your life that was so negative it turned you off from what you wanted to be when you grew up? How did that affect you?
So next I looked to the subject I was enjoying the most at the time…beginner-level Spanish. I really loved it and thought I’d like to eventually major in foreign languages once I got to college.
But then came Spanish II, which was really difficult for me, much more than Spanish 1 where I was making all A’s.
Have you ever lacked the skill or ability to be the thing you wanted to be when you grew up? How did you shift your focus?
Finally, I discovered psychology…which changed everything for me.
I found psychology so interesting, and my understanding of it came naturally to me. It was becoming my passion.
What comes naturally to you? What are you passionate about?
But when I announced to my family I was going to study psychology as my college major, they weren’t as enthusiastic about it as I was.
I kept hearing,
“Oh, how in the world are you going to make any money with THAT kind of degree?”
My dad said I should major in business (his passion)…because I’d make more money.
My mother said I should be a nurse…because I’d make more money.
Even my brother chimed in and said I should be an accountant because, again,… I’d make more money.
Did anyone ever try to discourage you from becoming what you wanted to grow up to be? How did you respond?
So why didn’t I listen to any of my family members? Several reasons:
- I can’t stand the site of blood. And I can’t stand the smell of a hospital. Hearing people talk in detail about their surgeries or ailments literally makes my skin crawl.
- I’m completely bored with math and number crunching. While other people find numbers fun and fascinating, I do not.
- Business didn’t interest me at the time. At least not enough for me to have done well in business classes.
- I get good grades when I’m studying something I find interesting. If I’m the one who has to take the classes and do the homework, the material has to keep me awake.
- Loving what I do is more important to me than making a lot of money.
Don’t get me wrong, I understand why choosing a career path that paid well over choosing one I loved was important to my parents.
They were both born in the late 1930s, still early enough to have felt some of the long-term effects of the Great Depression.
Their parents drilled into them the importance of being financially secure in the event of another depression, so they were just doing what they thought was best for me by trying to encourage me into fields considered more lucrative.
My brother is a lot older than me. In fact, he’s closer in age to my dad’s generation than he is to mine. Therefore, his mentality has also been “get a job that pays well regardless of whether you like it.”
Is there something you’re passionate about even though it may not make you a lot of money? Which is more important to you?
I stood firm in my decision to major in psychology (and minor in sociology), did well in all my psychology classes, and made the dean’s list several times.
It wasn’t until the summer between my junior and senior year that I knew what I wanted to do with my degree.
That summer I had been an orientation leader at my alma mater and had also been working the previous two years in the Provost’s office as a student worker.
I loved the college atmosphere, loved working with incoming students, and had developed a strong understanding of the organizational structure of a university.
I decided to ask my Dean of Students how do I get a job like his? (This was my first time conducting an informational interview and had no idea at the time that was what it was called.)
He explained I would need a master’s degree in a field I had no previous idea existed. I started researching graduate programs in higher education administration and student personnel services.
Have you explored a career path that was previously unknown to you? What is it? What have you learned about it? What else do you want to learn about it?
The more I found out, the more I realized my psychology degree was the best foundation for what I would study in graduate school.
In fact, much of what I learned in grad school was just an extension from undergrad.
Unlike my fellow grad students who came from other majors like finance and business, I already had familiarity with a lot of the theories and material.
Once I had decided on higher education as a career path, I still had to narrow down what area of higher ed I wanted to go into.
My degree was readying me for so many possibilities.
I could go into financial aid, housing/residential living, Greek life, admissions, orientation, career services, academic advising, first-year programs, student activities, study abroad, international student services, and on and on.
Do you sometimes have so many career options or career interests you find it hard to narrow down your choices?
I narrowed my choices down into three areas based on the ones that interested me most: orientation programs, freshman year experience programs, and career services.
I delved into those three areas by gaining practical experience through internships, volunteer work and special projects while finishing my degree.
It was while volunteering in the university’s career center I knew I wanted to help students figure out what they wanted to be “when they grew up” based on their own interests and passions instead of their parents’ wishes.
Has a previous personal experience inspired you to a career helping others facing the same experience?
After earning my masters, I went on to be a college career adviser at various universities and even held the title of director of career services at one time.
I also got to teach some college level courses.
I loved what I did.
My job even allowed me to use my creative side in developing career-related programs for my students.
But when my creativity began to be stifled, I decided to make a bit of a career change and started my own image consulting business (click here to read the story on how that happened).
Have you ever felt so stifled or burned out in your career you knew you were ready for a change?
For 8 years I worked independently as an image consultant but in that time I also continued to do career coaching on the side.
The image consulting fed my childhood interest in fashion since it included some wardrobe styling work.
And I even became an author when I released my first book, an Amazon #1 bestseller about image and style.
Then, after 8 years of image consulting, I was ready for another career change, but also a bit of a return to my roots.
I became an independent career coach with a focus on helping people discover and pursue their passions.
Have you ever had a yearning to go back to something you once did before?
It’s an interesting story how I shifted my image consulting business back to a career coaching focus (click here to read that story).
I knew I wanted to go back to career coaching but I had two requirements for myself:
- I still wanted to work for myself, so I avoided applying for jobs at college career centers. Instead I re-structured my business’s mission.
- I wanted to work with people going through mid-career transitions with a focus on helping them pursue their passions and the things they once wanted to be when they grew up.
My background and own personal experiences have served me well in accomplishing those two goals.
What are some of your career goals? What are some of your “must haves” for your work? How has your background prepared you for your goals?
Unlike most other career coaches, I didn’t just decide to be a career coach after having worked in another industry. Career coaching has been part of my entire career.
It has evolved out of a combination of childhood interests, natural gifts and talents, and passion.
And it has taken some exciting twists and turns along the way.
I’m thankful there’s been more than just one way to pursue my passion.
I’m also thankful my current situation allows me to combine some of my other passions like writing and stand up paddle boarding with my work as a career coach.
And I love helping others find unique and creative ways to pursue and combine all the passions they have, helping them become some of the things they always wanted to be when they grew up.
What are some ways you can pursue your own passions? How can you combine your passions? What steps will you take next to do so?