Who Do You Want to Be?

When we’re young, people ask us what we want to be when we grow up. We consider professions such as doctor, lawyer, policeman/woman, teacher. That’s because when we’re young, we don’t know about options such as computer programming. We answer with professions we’ve seen. As we learn more about professions, we can choose again.

When I was in junior high and high school, I wanted to be a doctor. I knew the doctors had power and made money. I thought diagnosing and fixing people’s problems would be fun.

I discovered software development in college, and decided that I would do that. I had more options. Since then, I’ve been a developer, tester, project manager, program manager, manager of all kinds of things. I run my own company now. I have had many choices and made them.

But, I rarely thought about who I wanted to be.

Oh, I wanted to be nice (but not sweet), and courteous, and someone people would want to work with and have fun with. I still work at that, and I mostly succeed.

But what about what drives me? What about the conscious decisions I make that make me the person I am?

Long ago, I decided I could set goals and meet them if I did a little every day. I learned that with piano lessons, swimming lessons, and when I learned to program. I had to practice often to get good. I couldn’t slap-dash something together and have it work. I am not that brilliant or innately good at anything.

I decided I would ask forgiveness rather than permission. If I discovered a way to fix something or prevent a problem from happening, and that approach was reasonable, I could ask forgiveness, as long as I delivered the results people wanted.

I also decided that I could not fix people, but I could fix situations. I focused on that. How could I do that better, in my work, at home? I started doing this in my first job and haven’t stopped. I see problems and resolve them.

I decided I would be a life-long learner. That’s because I’m curious and want to know how things work.

I decided I would be hopeful. Not really an optimist, but hopeful, to look at the glass as being able to add more to it.

First, these were unconscious decisions. Then, I became aware of what was driving me, and I decided to do more of it. And that’s the point of this week’s question.

We often resolve to be different in the New Year. I don’t believe in resolutions. I see a change I want to make, and I don’t wait for a Monday or a new year to start. I start when I want to be that changed person.

If you don’t know who you are, you can’t decide who you want to be. You might need to see your reality first, and then decide what you want to change.

It’s not about who-do-you-want-to-be-when-you-grow-up, because we are always as grown up as we are going to get. Why wait? Why not be the best you right now?

If you know who you want to be, you can make decisions that match that who. If you don’t know who you want to be, you might find it difficult to make decisions.

What kind of a person do you want to be? If you know that, you can start. You don’t need a resolution; you become that person. If you’re having trouble, you can fake it until you become it.

That, my fellow adaptable problem solvers is the question of the week: Who do you want to be?

2 thoughts on “Who Do You Want to Be?

  1. Terry

    Hi Johanna! Thanks for the post! Defining who you want to be and using that vision as your own personal magnetic north when navigating situations and decisions, and choosing your actions and responses is so empowering!

    I’m mulling over your statement >>If you don’t know who you are, you can’t decide who you want to be.<<
    I'm wondering whether who you are is relevant only once you've figured out who you want to be and are at the point of determining how to get there. Perhaps who I am now is relative only to who I want to be?

    1. johanna Post author

      Hi Terry. Maybe I was not clear with that statement. (yeah, maybe!)

      In my opinion, we continually assess who we are, and get to decide again and again who we want to be. Maybe every day we get a little closer. We can choose something else to practice, to be the person we want to be.

      We might be the essence of who we want to be, and change a few things daily. If I want to be more friendly to people, I can practice. If I want to be more hopeful, I can practice. If I want to be leaner, I can practice mindful eating.

      It’s about seeing our current reality and responding to that.

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