It has to be one of the most clichéd questions of our time. And also one of the most profound. There are lots of other Big Questions implicit in this one, depending on the context in which it is asked and/or the manner in which it is considered. For example:
• What do you want to do with – or, how do you want to make use of – your limited time on Earth?
• What kind of contribution do you want to make to your community/society/the world at large?
• What brings you joy?
• What are you good at? What are you interested in? What do you think there is a need for? And where do these three realms intersect?
• What are your fantasies/passions/longings/dreams?
• What do you think you could actually convince people to pay you to do?
• What are your deepest values? To what or whom are you committed?
• How do you intend to justify your existence?
• To what do you aspire that is not attainable for you right now (since you’re obviously not “grown up” yet)?
• What do you see yourself becoming? Where are you headed?
• Whom do you admire and most want to emulate? Why?
• How do you want to identify, label, or define yourself, in terms of an occupation (based on those that exist right now, that you are aware of)?
• What are your goals?
• What kind of “status” do you seek or crave?
• How ambitious are you?
• What state(s) of mind do you most treasure? (e.g., “I just want to be happy.”)
• What kind of lifestyle most appeals to you?
• Without necessarily having a grasp of, or even paying mind to, the realities/potential hazards/downsides/difficulties, what occupation sounds like the most fun or the most rewarding to you?
• What is the answer you think the person asking you this question wants to hear? What do the most important people in your life (such as your parents) want/expect from you?
• What options do you believe are available to you? What do you believe yourself to be capable of?
See what a loaded question this can be?!?
In the posts that follow, I will describe my own journey tackling this Big Question, from childhood on up to the present. My hope is that presenting my own story as honestly and candidly as I can here will encourage a dialogue, and give the question new life (if not a definitive answer) for you, myself, and anyone else interested. Stay tuned…