What did you want to be when you were growing up? - Michelle Gibbings

What did you want to be when you were growing up?  A teacher? Chief? Pilot? TV presenter? Surgeon?

Initially, I wanted to be a member of Charlie’s Angels (well I was only 7 at the time, and it was one of the most popular TV shows at the time!).  I then I wanted to be a teacher and a whole raft of other roles.

Last year, the Australian Institute of Family studies released a fascinating study into the career aspirations of children.

It found that six in ten 14-15 years olds knew what job they wanted when they grew up. Of these, 60% aspired to professional or managerial jobs; jobs that make up only 35% of the current Australian labour market.

Only 14% of children in that age bracket wanted to work in areas such as retail, hospitality and administration; jobs that make up nearly half the labour market.  While about one in ten children surveyed said, they wanted to be a sportsperson, entertainer or famous – so called ‘fantasy’ occupations.

The roles that many children aspire to aren’t the roles they will end up in.

That’s not surprising. In fact, many people end up in roles where they scratch their head and wonder how they got there.

Expectations, from others and ourselves, play a large part in influencing our career choices.

You follow a career path because that’s what your father or mother did.  You go into a role because you’re told that’s what would be best for you.  You go with the flow, not deliberately making career decisions, and so find yourself one day in a role that was never planned.

It is often an internal debate between what you ‘could’ do and what you ‘should’ do.  The ‘could’ being something that is unexpected, challenging, risky or slightly left of centre.  While the ‘should’ being the job that people expect you to do, or the job that your beliefs limit you too.

Breaking away from the ‘should’ do means you have to walk away from the expectations of others and shift your expectations of yourself.

It starts with ditching any unhelpful internal dialogue you say to yourself about your career that may be holding you back or hindering you.

Ask yourself:

  • What are the rules (both written and unwritten) I’ve been told about my career and career change?
  • Which of those have held me back?
  • Which ones have propelled me forward?
  • Which ones are no longer relevant?
  • Which rules am I prepared to ditch?
  • Are there new rules I need to create to help me leap into a new career and stay professionally relevant?

As one of the world’s greatest artists, Michaelangelo, said: “The greatest danger for most of us is not that our aim is too high and we miss it, but that our aim is too low and we reach it.”

If you aim high, you might just reach it, but if you aim low, you are unlikely to go beyond your aim.

Get ready for tomorrow, today.

Michelle Gibbings is a change leadership and career expert and founder of Change Meridian.  Michelle works with global leaders and teams to help them get fit for the future of work. She is the Author of ‘Step Up: How to Build Your Influence at Work’ and

‘Career Leap: How to Reinvent and Liberate your Career’.  For more information: www.michellegibbings.com or contact michelle@michellegibbings.com.


Publication: |