Who Do You Want To Be When You Grow Up?

[Post by Chuck Krugh, July 28, 2023]

Last week I wrote about the question What Do You Want To Do When You Grow Up? I discussed how hard it can be to answer a relatively straightforward question. There are so many factors to consider when thinking about your career aspirations. We covered several of those last time. In this blog, I want to focus on a related question with a slightly different emphasis: Who Do You Want To Be When You Grow Up? I apologize in advance if you thought the questions were going to get easier, but these seemingly easy and straightforward questions require thought. That’s what makes them hard!

Managing your career is a difficult task, one that requires choices and actions as I described in the last blog.  It requires time to identify what’s important to you. Think for a moment about some of the questions required when considering your career: What type of position would be interesting to me? What is important to me in my career? What is the balance between work and family that I’m willing to accept? What is important to my partner? What is my partner willing to support? Where am I financially? Can I afford a short term hit to my income to achieve a long-term gain?

There are many more potential questions, but I think you get the idea. I also hope you see that it will take more than one “thinking or reflecting” session to find some answers. It’s really an ongoing process that requires your active participation. Evaluate where you are and make course corrections as you go.

Career planning is hard because only you can determine your pathway. Unfortunately, so many distractions get in the way. Life happens! We all have pulls on our time – parents, partners, kids, work, friends, and, of course, your own downtime to unwind.

OK, it’s hard and it takes time, but to be successful, you need to plot your course. The “Who Do You Want To Be When You Grow Up?” question is a big help in making that happen.

The “Who” question could lead us in many directions, so I want to focus it on a more specific position and/or title to streamline this conversation.

When you have the opportunity to think, usually in some quiet time, consider where you see yourself going in your career? What position is your goal? Do you want to be a Supervisor, Manager, Director, Vice President or President? What position suits you and would make you happy? It’s important for you to have an idea of what level you desire to achieve in your current or even a different field. Identifying who you want to be when you grow up allows you to establish a target or North Star to aim at and hit.

As in the last blog, I’ll share a little about myself and my journey. When I was 18 years old, I set three lofty goals for myself. First, since we didn’t have a lot when I was growing up, I wanted to hit a financial goal. Second, when I got married, I wanted to do it once and for a long time. Third, I wanted to be the president of the company. At that time, I had no money, no particular girl and no idea what career field I was going into. Yet these three goals became my North Star; they guided me in making decisions along the way.

The goals I set a long time ago may seem pretty simple now when looking in the rear-view mirror; however, my journey started with those three goals. Those goals drove all my decisions relating to my life – financial, personal and career. It has been a lot of work, but worth the effort.

If you begin to answer some of the questions above, you will start to define the boundaries or guideposts of your career path. As you start identifying answers, you may want to talk with your partner or a trusted friend. It really helps to have someone to bounce your thoughts and ideas off. I can’t tell you how many miles my wife and I have walked up and down our driveway discussing my career (walking the driveway gave us a chance to have a few minutes of peace to talk over things away from the kids, but not too far away).

The ball’s in your court, so I encourage you to get started!

See you on the deckplates!

Safely Execute High-Quality Work

President, General Dynamics Bath Iron Works

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