• Want Your Children to Succeed? Stop Asking This Question

  • From the time we are children we are asked the question “What do you want to be when you grow up”?  We ask our toddlers, we ask our tweens and we pressure our high school seniors to “choose” a life path so they can succeed. Our children are encouraged to pick a career, find their direction and fulfill their purpose. But this Direction Diva isn’t sure that pushing our children to decide what they want to be so early in life really will help them succeed.

    Since launching our new teen initiative DASIUM , I’m seeing more and more high school and college age kids torn between multiple interests and the pressure to choose. They are told that they need to pick and that by doing so they have a better chance at being successful. The message they hear is that unless I know what I want I’m destined for failure.

    And that’s a big problem……

    No wonder we have so many 15 -22 year olds stressed out and overwhelmed.  No wonder they feel “bad” that they don’t know what to do with their lives.  It’s hard enough to keep up with classes, studying, social activities and life in general, but we have put this “ticking time bomb” over their lives.

    I remember a simple post I read recently that stated “how is it that I still have no idea what i want to do with my life?!”  Everything in me screamed as I read it, I wanted to shout:


    It was in that moment when I realized that somewhere along the way the sanctity of childhood had changed.  I wanted to reach through the computer, take them in my arms and say “Sweetie, if you are lucky you’ll know before you are 40…. and then you may still get it wrong”!

    Something in the way we condition our children to choose their path so young isn’t in their best interests at all. In fact what started as a way to help them be motivated to succeed has transitioned and is now putting ALOT of unnecessary pressure on them.  The formula – go to school, do your best, go to college, do better, graduate, get a “real” job and excel. It’s as if we tell them if you do all of these things, in the proper order you will find success and that just isn’t always the case.

    How many of us can say that  every time we followed our chosen path we were successful? What about path we “picked” when we were young? Heck I NEVER even used my bachelor’s degree – not even once.

    I guess my point is that not knowing what you want to be at 18 may actually be a good thing.  It means that you are open to possibilities and you want to embrace all that the world has to offer.  If I could offer a piece of advice to that young man posting his question…

    Stop worrying about it, work hard at what you are doing, continue to take action on the things that feel right, and the rest will come to you all in good time.  In the mean time, be silly, giggle lots and continue to skip and for goodness sake stop and smell the roses, because that’s what it’s all about anyway right?

    Do you ask your kids
    “What they want to be when they grow up”?

    ~Judy Davis, the Direction Diva is a motivational speaker, author and lifestyle blogger as well as a military life and teen suicide prevention expert. Co-founder of DASIUM, Judy’s books Right Side Up  and Warning Signs: Is Your Teen at Riskare go to resources for families and her websites are filled with tips, inspiration and resources for those looking for direction. Connect with Judy at TheDirectionDiva.com


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