What Do You Want to Be Today?

Do you remember being asked as a kid “What do you want to be when you grow up?”  I’m almost 34 and I’m still not sure of the answer most days.  Yet I take some comfort in the fact the question is a bit wrong.  Asking what your going to ‘be’ rather than what your going to ‘do’ implies that we are in fact defined strictly by the jobs we have.  This of course isn’t true at all.  People are defined by many things like their interests, hobbies, causes they care about and their relationships to others much more than their job.

So I realized since the question is wrong, I don’t really need an answer to it.  Yet at the same time if you change the question it does bring up something interesting: what do you want to be today? In retirement, you won’t have a job so your definition of self has to come from other areas of your life.  It instead becomes a evolution of being more of yourself since you no longer have to dress up to impress anyone at work and you really don’t care what others think of your lunch since most people will never see it.  You’ be’ what ever you want for each day since you have the luxury of time to try things out and see if it is you.

For example, you might try being an artist for a few weeks and take a painting class.  Or perhaps you always wanted to learn to ski, so you take a trip to the mountains for a week.  After both experiments you might find you aren’t either an artist or a skier or perhaps you are both.  Yet you have the luxury of time to do that fully in retirement.

Yet it is a bit of myth that us working stiffs can’t do the same thing to a degree.  We don’t have to limit our exploration of who we want to be now just because you have a full time job.  You can still choose to take a painting class or learn to ski, but you have to be realistic of what you can fit in your current life.  Yet that is your only limitation, time, the rest of it is mostly about what do you want most in your life right now.  While this can seem a little odd to do in your life now, it becomes significantly more important do this as you get closer to retirement.  Since once you get to retirement you don’t want to be bored by it so you better have a clue of what you like to do other than work or watch TV.

It’s ok to ask the question: what do you want to be today?  Give yourself permission to explore the country of you.  Just make sure to inform your spouse of your current obsession first as they can often save you from some potential screw ups by asking good questions like “can’t you just rent one rather than buy one to try it out?”

5 thoughts on “What Do You Want to Be Today?”

  1. This gets into the aspect of the different roles that we play each and everyday. In one day there can be oh-so many.

    But the cool thing about retirement is that, for the most part, there is far more choice in the matter. Right now, I am a blog responder. Then I will be a wanna-be athlete-in-training. Then a researching/reading historian. And tonight, weather permitting, I will be at my jam as an amateur banjo picker. Etc. What fun!

    So, to rephrase the more-or-less bogus question, ” What are the different things you want to do/be/pursue now and in the future?”

  2. This question caused me a lot of stress during my adolescence. It still causes me a bit of stress (since like you, I haven’t completely decided ‘what I want to do with my life’) but thankfully it’s no longer asked of me several times a day. This was a refreshing take on that!

  3. People always ask me what I want to be when I grow up. I use to say hockey player, then football player, then architect, then accountant, then personal trainer, then physiotherapist. Now that I am in university, people ask more what I want to “do” with my degree when I graduate.

    I used to dwell on these questions lot. But, a while ago I decided that my only obligation was to “be” happy. So that is now how I answer those questions. How I will spend my employed time is, like you said, what I am going to do. What I am is not defined by anything or anyone besides myself.

    “When I was 5 years old, my mother always told me that happiness was the key to life. When I went to school, they asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up. I wrote down ‘happy’. They told me I didn’t understand the assignment, and I told them they didn’t understand life.” – John Lennon

  4. I still think the original question is valid, as we are mostly defined by what we do. And, as a regular working stiff, we spend most of our available time catering to our employment, so by default, most of us are what we “do”, as perceived by everyone else. I have found in retirement that the same still applies. People have to have some general way of defining you. My job now is to be retired, and that is satisfactory for those who know me fairly well, everyone else just thinks we’re rich, even though we are a long way from their definition of rich. As an individual though, you are so right, it is important not become who others define us to be. Today I am making a quilt, whats that make me? lol

  5. I am officially retired but still work one-two days a week as a nurse practitioner, although I took this month off to spend at the beach … nice retirement perk. Nursing is one of those careers where the identity that seems to stick with you for life, even post-retirement. I always felt I found my calling in nursing so what I wanted to do in life was not an issue.

    I am currently learning to make beaded jewelry and enjoying it. I have no aspiration to be an artist, though. Today, I think what I want to be is content.

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