“What Do I Want to Be When I Grow Up?” is the Wrong Career Question

Wrong career questionPresident Obama recently said something that struck a chord with me… and has really changed my perspective on my career goals:

“Stop asking what you want to be.”

The concept, discussed with the latest class of white house interns (see the video below), is so simple:

Stop Asking What You Want to Be… Start Asking What You Want to Do

For instance:

  • Instead of: “I want to be a teacher,” what if you thought, “I want to mold young minds and educate the world”
  • Instead of: “I want to be in politics,” what if your outlook was, “I want to solve some of the biggest problems that face our country, like climate change”
  • Instead of: “I want be a doctor,” what if you said, “I want to improve surgical technology and practices and save lives”

There is a profound difference here: change one verb and you gain an entirely different perspective!

Figuring out what you want to do with your life, instead of just a career title, opens doors and career opportunities you never would have considered if you just aimed to be a teacher or a politician or a doctor. Your impact would be immediately known; your life’s purpose abundantly clear.

Step Out of Selfish Mode

Asking yourself what you want to ‘be’ is a selfish question. It’s all about you. But changing the mindset from ‘be’ to ‘do’ makes it about other people and how you can positively impact your world.

So… what do you want to do?



LaurenK_AuthorAbout the Author: Lauren Kirkpatrick is YouTern’s Social Media Manager. She graduated from San Diego State in 2011 with a Bachelors degree in Public Relations and University of Southern California in 2013, with a Masters degree in Digital Media. In her personal life, Lauren is never more than 3 feet from her iPhone or Macbook – she says “they have their own side of the bed” (and our guess is they probably also have their own iNames!). Lauren is a sports junkie, TV aficionado and expert baker. Follow Lauren on Twitter!



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