June 24, 2008

The Ideal Gig

A while back, I talked about the worst job I'd ever had. As a reminder, it involved making hats in a factory in Texas in the summer with no air conditioning (the fact that there was such a structure in Texas should be illegal) and touching old guys' sweaty heads (that should be illegal too just on principle). And I asked you about yours and you came up with some that were truly horrific and gave me nightmares. Anyway, while I'm reluctant to talk about work in any depth, I've had a lot of conversations with people all centered around what they want to be when they grow up. I'm far from the only one who has not yet figured this out. I'm relieved.

I'm 35 years old (I think but I always forget...let me do some subtraction...yes, 35) and I was under the impression that, by this point, I should know what I want to do with the rest of my life. And I do know to a certain extent. I want to continue to be a father and watch my kids grow up into cool people. I want to hang out with Beth and grow ancient together. I'd like to travel a bit and I'd like to read lots more books and listen to much more music. Maybe write a book of my very own. But what I want to do professionally remains a mystery.

When I was a kid scoring Cs in school, I used to get the Limit Your Options Lecture from my dad. It went something like this:

"In your life you need to keep as many options open to you as possible so you have opportunities to do whatever you want. Each time you get a C - or worse - in a class, you're limiting some of those options. I just want to see you have the ability to do whatever it is you decide to do down the road."

And, though I hated the lecture and gave it not one iota of consideration because it sounded like one of those standard-issue pre-packaged lectures parents are required by law to deliver at some predetermined frequency, he was right. (Don't tell him I said that.) But here's where the whole theory breaks down. From the time we start high school we're expected and forced to limit our options. In high school, we choose some subjects or activities at the expense of others. In college - from a vast slate of academic opportunities and knowledge that supports future careers - our 18 to 20 year-old selves are expected and required to find one or two areas we most want to know about. And this decision - being made, I remind you, by people who are only just eligible to vote and drink (maybe) and have no understanding of the real world - rules out an astronomical number of career paths. It's like, we're the oppressed masses and the universe is The Man keeping us down. So, okay, we shouldn't limit ourselves but it's okay for the universe to? That doesn't seem right.

Unless you're the rare breed who decided to be a cop when you were eight then chased that dream until you were eventually a 35 year old cop - and I'm convinced that single-minded determination is rare yet totally admirable - maybe you're in the same boat I am. Don't get me wrong (especially you, people who I work for if you've somehow figured out where I blog) - I love what I do. It's hard and draining and, at times, frustrating, but I'm good at it. I'm just not convinced it's what I want to do professionally for the rest of my days.

Are you doing what you want to do? If money was no object, what's your ideal gig?

Posted by Chris at June 24, 2008 7:23 AM
Comments

dolphin trainer. in the caribbean.

Posted by: Lisa at June 24, 2008 7:54 AM

A bookstore. I've spent hours planning the layout of it, what special sections I'd have (I love sci-fi/fantasy and that's usually one of the smaller sections), and what reading programs I'd offer. I'd want to have programs for children and adults.

One of these days.....

Posted by: Sherri at June 24, 2008 7:57 AM

Gigilo.

Posted by: William at June 24, 2008 8:00 AM

I want to be a travel photographer. Or a photojournalist.

A far, far cry from what I do now :-)

Posted by: Alissa at June 24, 2008 8:02 AM

I'm in the same boat as you are. I'm very good at what I do, but I don't know what I want to be when I grow up. If it makes you feel better, I'm 41.

Posted by: Maria at June 24, 2008 8:15 AM

My path has changed so many times - I entered college with dreams (scary dreams) of being a biomedical engineer. Come to find out I really suck at calculus and physics (despite the fact that I aced them in my small town high school - who knew). I then thought about interior design for a bit, then went into marketing, figuring that would allow me to use my left AND right brain and would especially make the creative side of me happy.

Having said THAT.

I would love to open a gym. Or a bakery. Yes. I realize they don't really go together, but I enjoy health and wellness, and I enjoy a good brownie. Su

Posted by: Sarah at June 24, 2008 8:18 AM

wanted to be a massage therapist from the time i was 17.... started out as a key punch operator at 14... until i was 30...got laid off and became a secretary... went to massage school at 39... LOVED IT... while being a secretary... got back down to the data department now i'm 55 and administrative software support manager... still doing massage and teaching it... have delivered 3 babies using massage/shiatsu...so think when i actually grow up (read that RETIRE) would like to go to school to become accupuncturist or midwife.. hey, mom said i could be anything i wanted if i put my mind to it! what is "grown up" anyway?

Posted by: the unicorn at June 24, 2008 8:22 AM

From the time I was 14, I wanted to be a lawyer (b/c I thought being an actress was too unstable). I am now a lawyer, but not the kind I thought I'd be at 14.

If I could do anything, I would be a chef or an (oscar-winning) actress.

Posted by: Robyn at June 24, 2008 8:24 AM

Uuuuhh...
If money was no object, I'd probably be one of those douchebags who didn't ever work. I mean, I could travel and volunteer and well, shop. But yeah...

and if I had to work, I might open a coffee shop. Those always seemed interesting and fun.

Or I might just keep doing what I'm planning on doing, and be less frustrated with the lack of money in it...

... and only do it part time. Y'know, 'cause of the travelling and shopping.

(Secretly, if I had a ton of money, I would buy a farm and rescue doggies and employ and animal trainer and I'd pretty much have about a gazillion dogs. But that's a secret. I'm not going to tell you that.)

Posted by: Cassandra at June 24, 2008 8:27 AM

I never dreamed I would be a consultant/recruiter/headhunter (whatever word you want to apply) but it is a good job, great people, & a nice little company that puts up with my personality quirks, etc and the money/hours/no travel is good. All of that in a small town with no commute and my child is close by in a good care situation.

If I had my choice I would be a writer (if I were any good at it!) or a journalist. I also actually enjoyed working at Caribou Coffee when I was a youngster and loved the coffee house feel (she says as she whistles through her teeth...) so I guess finding something that I could be my own boss like a coffee place, make my own hours and be successful at would be lovely.

Really, I just want to find a way to be independently wealthy so I can be a writer, a journalist, a small business owner and travel the world. BUT that is not happening because I neither come from "blue bloods" (which makes me think of dogs...) nor do I play the lottery so I better get back to work ;)

Posted by: Christina at June 24, 2008 8:28 AM

If it were just me to consider I think it would be cool to build a giant house and take in a bunch of kids who needed set on the right path in life...since i have my hubby and two boys...I would like to open a bait/tackle combined with a good eats cafe of sort nestled in the mountains somewhere, you know the one where people make it a point to stop and share stories of their adventures.

Posted by: Steff at June 24, 2008 8:36 AM

Something fairly close to what I do now. I don't love my job, but I love what I do. I like being a Webmaster and making things run right, but if I had my way and money was no object, I'd be the boss and run a web hosting or web admin company the way I think it should be ran.

Posted by: Brad at June 24, 2008 8:36 AM

I want to be Karen Walker when I grow up but only if I can have a Jack.

Posted by: Gwen at June 24, 2008 8:38 AM

I think I am one of the abnormal few. I think that I am in the job that I am meant to be in. I wake in the morning and don't think 's**t, I have to go to work', I actually love work. I am lucky that work is great fun, family friendly AND I don't have to grow up!

I hope that your dreams find you and you get to write, travel and enjoy your family.

Posted by: del at June 24, 2008 8:40 AM

If money were no object and I had no one other than myself to consider, I'd love to be a chef, possibly a personal chef. Big surprise, right?
I've also dreamt how cool it would be to be a food critic, and also delve into the realm of understanding wines more in depth as a career.

In my real life, I'm where you and I'm sure most of your readers are at... I really enjoy what I do, even though it draining and demanding. I'm also really good at it...but never in my dreams did I imagine that I would become "the man". That's just some crazy zh!t man.

Posted by: varinia at June 24, 2008 8:44 AM

I would love to be a veterinary tech, work with animals or work at this animal sanctuary http://www.bestfriends.org/

Posted by: Michelle at June 24, 2008 8:47 AM

I like what I do. I think I am getting burnt on IT in Healthcare, maybe a change is in store.

Ideally I would like to be a paid photographer.

Posted by: Josh at June 24, 2008 8:51 AM

I don't know what I want to be when I grow up either. But I often don't know what I'm doing anyway so in a sense I'm where I want to be.

Right?

Posted by: Freezem at June 24, 2008 8:55 AM

You know, I am doing what I want to do. I'm home with my kids. If I changed anything about what I do right now, it would be to figure out a way to have more time and energy to do more things with them...but that's getting into the whole "magic" discussion.

But I also think sometimes about what I'd like to do once my kids don't need me around all the time. I have no idea.

Don't be so hard on yourself, my Dad is 63 and considering retirement from a job he loves and he's still not sure what he wants to do with himself when he grows up. He thinks maybe getting his Captain's license could be fun?

Posted by: chatty cricket at June 24, 2008 9:01 AM

I think it would be cool to be a photographer. Or Rene Zellweger's cabana boy ...

Knot

Posted by: Knot at June 24, 2008 9:02 AM

I think you are referring to 'life work'. I want to garden from march to November and then do stained glass from November to March.

Posted by: Arwen at June 24, 2008 9:05 AM

I would be a perpetual college student and just learn all the time. I'd also spend some time on a Peace Corps trip.

Am I doing what I wanted to do as a kid? Definitely not. I wanted to be a lawyer. But, when I figured out what lawyers do, I decided that wasn't the path for me. Now, I'm a secretary. But, I'm a happy secretary!

Posted by: Arwen at June 24, 2008 9:09 AM

I did what I wanted in my early 20's. I was a Mom. I loved being a Mom. I have done the other thing I wanted to do the most in my life, I raise beautiful wire-haired dachshunds. My passion. But now I'm going to be 50 and I ask myself, what's next on the list of "what I want to do". Since I think fashion model and nuclear scientist are out, perhaps I will simply work at being happy with my everyday life.

Posted by: Maribeth at June 24, 2008 9:12 AM

Career-wise I am not doing what I would love to do. I, like you, have no clue what I want to be when I grow up, but the fact that there were at least 6 people over 50 graduating law school with my best friend was very encouraging. My mom didn't land her dream gig (interior designer) until us kids were in middle school or better. I do know that my job now affords me the opportunity to see my kids as much as possible and still pay the mortgage. I would much rather put in my 6-7 hr days here and go home to "nuggle" (Summy's word) than pull a 10 hr day at the job of my dreams, at least for now.

So, to answer your question, yeah...I'm doing EXACTLY what I want to do.

My ideal gig? Some sort of beach rental business (i.e. chairs, wave-runners, etc).

Posted by: Mymilabean at June 24, 2008 9:15 AM

No, I am in the financial field....and it sort of sucks. In a perfect world, I own a bookstore and a doggy daycare/spa. I am surrounded by animals and books and my future husband and children...sounds like bliss.

Posted by: diane at June 24, 2008 9:25 AM

I think the problem is the emphasis on "what do you want to be when you grow up?"

Way back when I was 3 or 4 my mom began pushing me to be a doctor. When I expressed the slightest interest in pretty rocks she began pushing me to be a geologist. Then it was back to being a doctor - she has a thing for science and medicine.

There was always this sense that whatever I chose to study in college would be the thing I would do FOREVER!!! So I dropped out of college.

What I have come to realize is that life is short - do what your passionate about yet, life is long - you have time to try new things. I spent almost 10 years in television media and am now about to embark on a teaching career. In 10 years, who knows. I do what makes me happy, when I'm no longer happy I'll do something else.

The truth is that even now - having been married for 14 years and having a 13 year old kid - most of the time, I still don't feel like a grown up.

Posted by: wendy at June 24, 2008 9:28 AM

I'm in the same boat. I love what I do -- it's interesting, it's challenging and it pays well. I recently asked myself what else I would do, and I couldn't really come up with some other job I'd want right now. If money were no object though...I wouldn't mind owning a bookstore/bakery. I could try out new recipes to my heart's content, but in a small way, and host book clubs and hang out with books and book people all day.

Posted by: bad penguin at June 24, 2008 9:43 AM

I totally could have written this.

I have no idea what I want to do, but I'm getting bored with my current job. I don't know if that's natural, or if it means that I should seriously consider other options. My mom didn't start her career until she was in her early-40s and she LOVES what she does. Basically, I just want a job where I can sound as excited as her when I talk about what I do, even nearly ten years later. I just don't have the faintest idea what that is.

Posted by: Stephanie at June 24, 2008 9:43 AM

At 35 I was finally able to do what I believe is my calling in life. After a great run at a lllooottt of different jobs (mostly in communications, web design & advertising), I was able to quit my job and pursue my doctorate so that I can teach at the university level. All of those years running meetings in corporate America just didn't feel right, however the moment I stepped in front of my first class I realized that this is what I want to do for the rest of my life.

Posted by: Krush at June 24, 2008 9:46 AM

Ideal gig - owning my own restoration shop for classic muscle cars. except I'd probably never want to give them back to the rightful owners lol

wouldn't mind barrel racing either, but I fear that would leave me w/ 2 black eyes....*blush*

Maybe a writer/photographer/singer/master of all trades...

Posted by: Kris at June 24, 2008 9:47 AM

I would like to be a test car driver/motorcycle rider for a magazine. I think it would be pretty neat to get to drive a different car/motorcycle every week.

Posted by: Rex at June 24, 2008 9:51 AM

Right now, I'm working towards becoming a guidance counselor. I like working with kids, but don't think I have the patience to be a teacher.

My first try at college, I really wanted to be a bartender. I still think it sounds like a great job, think of the crazy stories you could tell.

Posted by: anna at June 24, 2008 9:58 AM

Hmm, tough question that I haven't really given much thought. I currently have a pretty sweet gig as a middle school art teacher and I really do love it. I absolutely adore the kids (well most of them). I get to draw and paint along with them with supplies someone else bought. I constantly get told how awesome I am because I'm moderately more talented than they are (gotta love that). I pretty much get left alone by the powers that be as long as I do some pretty easy basic things. Granted the pay sucks - but that's never bothered me too much. I know the score on that when I went into it so my eyes were open. And in the grand scheme of things it's about as rock solid of a job as you can get.

I've worked a number of other jobs and this is really the only one that doesn't give me nightmares when I think about staying awhile longer. Maybe I'm one of those strange ones that found their professional job. I never knew that until just now. ;)

You mentioned "if money were no object". I think that's part of the trick. Whatever your perfect career might be it has to be something that isn't going to be destroyed by getting paid for it and all the responsibilities that come with that. I love drawing and painting portraits and I'm decent at it but I would hate it if I got paid for it.

Posted by: jen at June 24, 2008 10:05 AM

Your entry today pretty much sums up the educational/career decision process that we put on kids. The key to success I feel is versatility. Be a generalist in college. Don't major in pre-Columbian art shards with a minor in philosophy (not that there's anything wrong with those fields- if you love it sooo much it will be your passion for all time) I am currently a RN and my work philosophy is find a job that pays well enough to not be there much. I work three nights a week and will never do overtime.
There are other things I can find to do in the other four days that trump wiping ass for time and a half.
And this is the life lesson I try to impart to my legacies.

greenie

Posted by: greenie at June 24, 2008 10:09 AM

I went to college to be a secretary and I've always been a secretary and I'm really good at it. The best thing about being a secretary is you can always change your "profession" but still be a secretary! I've worked for a major fundraising organization, a local television station (twice), an international brokerage firm, insurance companies, and a school library and now, my husband. I'd usually get restless after five years and move on but the same skills are always involved. I guess I'm stuck at this company now!
However, if money wasn't an issue...I would be a professional knitter, or a photographer, or volunteer in our local school system wherever they needed me on a daily basis.
Not long ago I thought about getting my LPN license and kicked around going to college for teaching, but I'd be ancient before I'd ever finish.
And, I always wanted to be a cashier at Stop and Shop so now I always go to the self-checkout and pretend.
Overall, I'm happy where I am and still have the opportunity (through volunteering) to fullfill a few of my "wish I coulds".

Posted by: NancyB at June 24, 2008 10:18 AM

I'm doing what I always wanted to do and what I love doing. Although I didn't always know I wanted to do this - if that makes sense?

I did not go to university until I was 26 years old. While completing my math/stats degree I read an article on msnbc about career choices. Specifically it said to think back to childhood, to what you did for fun. That is your ideal career. Well I ran a school for my younger sister. I loved playing teacher.

I applied for education upon finishing my first degree and here I am: a math teacher at the high school 5 blocks from my home.

I love my job - it is hard work with long hours but I wouldn't be able to do anything else and enjoy it quite as much.

Posted by: Jacqueline at June 24, 2008 10:23 AM

dancer. ballroom more than likely.

Posted by: zeghsy at June 24, 2008 10:31 AM

I'm in your boat too. I mostly like what I am doing now - I'm a lawyer - but I don't see myself doing what I'm doing now for the next 25 years... I have days where I don't know what the hell to do with my life, but if money were no object, running a winery/vineyard would be up there.

Posted by: Sue R at June 24, 2008 10:33 AM

My hubby and I dream of a joint future career.....he is an awesome audio engineer, and would love to have a high-end, top-of-the-line studio. I, being a natural hostess-with-the-mostess, would love to have a bed-and-breakfast with a little cafe during the day (I make some mean homemade soups, sandwiches, desserts, and ice creams).

Ideally, we would find a beautiful piece of land out in the hill country around Austin, build a few private cabins with private hot tubs and one main house for ourselves. Musicians would come in, reside in the cabins, laying down tracks with hubby in his studio there on the propery, being catered to by me.

All I need is a million dollars or so to get it up and running. I just don't know what on earth is holding us back........

Posted by: Jen at June 24, 2008 10:53 AM

Money is no object? Philanthropist. Money AND talent is no object? Philanthropist rock star.

Yes, Chris. I want to be Bono.

Posted by: oakley at June 24, 2008 10:54 AM

I'm not doing what I want to do. I was made promises that I would "soon" be doing it. That was 2 years ago. The writing is on the wall, time to move on. I am annoyed that I stagnated for two years based on promises. I feel like a fool for that.

But I'm moving on soon, and I will unstagnate, assuming someone will hire me based on "I REALLY wanna do this job, give me the chance.)

Posted by: Poppy at June 24, 2008 10:57 AM

I think that I've found my ideal gig, money being no object. The PhD thing, Biochemistry, cancer research. I spend my days surrounded by brilliant people who are getting paid to help me become brilliant.

I stopped trying in high school and graduated with a ~2.4 GPA. The military changed things, but I had to push doors very very hard to get them to open. And I assure you that I never even came close to the subject matter involving what I do now when I was wearing a uniform. So, I tend to think that our choices are only limited by our own self-bias, good and bad; you can be anything at anytime if you're willing to put forth the effort.

Posted by: You can call me, 'Sir' at June 24, 2008 11:01 AM

It's not money that keeps me from doing what, for the moment, I would like to do, it's the fact that that I can't sight read music, or draw.

Posted by: ticknart at June 24, 2008 11:31 AM

Funny you should ask. My therapist asked me the same thing this morning. Ack. Most of the time, I have no idea. I've worked with teenagers most of my career, am currently employed as a secretary of Dr. Insane (whom I love to death, but who can't pay me enough.)Thinking about the nurse thing. Thinking about doing counseling again (now that my OWN head is out of my ass once again), but for the dreams I once had? Owning a resort in Northern Minnesota, or a Bed and Breakfast in North Carolina. Working at a greenhouse, flower arranging, I don't know. I like to do lots of things, but I'm not awesome at any ONE thing. The story of my life it seems...

Posted by: k8 at June 24, 2008 11:38 AM

I love that you routinely have everyone thinking outside the box. I didn't know what I wanted to be as a kid or even now at 41. Where I grew up, people didn't have big aspirations. They fell into something and carved out a life from it and that was that. Small towns don't provide the same kinds of options in life that bigger cities do.

I only worked for 10 years before I had Harley. I enjoyed working, but being a Mom and making a job out of volunteering has been quite rewarding.

If I were to work full-time again, I would work in an elementary school, in a coffee shop or I would open up my own bookstore.

Posted by: Diane at June 24, 2008 11:58 AM

Photography for sure. I am in Telecommunications...sigh.

Posted by: Peggy at June 24, 2008 12:03 PM

No, I never as a small child saw myself going into nonprofit administration. Oddly.

I would like people to pay me to read books and drink whiskey. Or be a travel writer twenty years ago, when it was still cheap to travel and neat places had fewer resorts, if a time machine was an option in this contract.

Posted by: samantha at June 24, 2008 12:12 PM

You know ... THAT question is exactly why we decided to write our blog.

As a child I thought I'd just be a secretary - I went on to become a paralegal because the money was good, but really, I wanted to go to art school along the way. Dad told me there was no money in it and therefore, he wouldn't support my schooling. So now, I design jewelry and do my own graphic design stuff on the side.

The Where's My Damn Answer blog is all of us searching for the answer. I just turned 40 last September and there are days that my husband and I look at each other and ask ... is this it? I mean, I thought by the time I was 40 I would know for certain how the rest of my life would be mapped out. Instead, I find myself with eraser in hand ... writing and re-writing.

Posted by: Kristy - Where's My Damn Answer at June 24, 2008 12:18 PM

When I was 9, I declared that I was going to be a doctor. I worked toward that goal from that day forward. In 2000, I graduated from medical school. Now, 8 years later, I'm a stay-at-home mom to a 3.5 and 1.5 year old. Best job ever. No regrets.

Posted by: Latte Mommy at June 24, 2008 12:19 PM

I really enjoyed reading everyone's answers. It seems there are actually a few people who are doing something they love, which is inspiring.
I'm currently in school to get my English degree and am wanting to get my Master's in Creative Writing. I'm afraid I have a long way to go - in school and in technique - but it's something I love to do and want to learn more about.
Here's hoping it pays off...

Posted by: Amaya at June 24, 2008 12:21 PM

I'm living the dream of doing what I love: freelance copyeditor of cookbooks and college textbooks. Granted, I'm not earning dreamy money, but this kind of work allows me to be a stay-home mom too.

Posted by: Karen at June 24, 2008 12:40 PM

I'm currently doing what I went to school for (Graphic Design), and have been doing that for nearly 10 years. . .and I went to school to study something I had wanted to study since I was 13. . .so in that context, making my living as a graphic designer is technically what I've wanted to do nearly my entire life, as I saw it as a way to make money being creative. Practical child that I was (and still am)
But if money was no object, I'd want to open a little cafe/bistro and serve amazing food in a comfortable atmosphere at reasonable prices. Provide a real neighborhood joint that gives back to the community as well. I've encountered many places like this in my life and I want to draw from each of those places and create something like that in my neighborhood.

Posted by: Beth at June 24, 2008 12:43 PM

I don't know about ideal job right now, although ideally I would be working part-time right now, so I could be home with our genetically-combined, small human more often.

I am looking at making a big change (marketing to more human resources/project coordination position) - which although it wouldn't get me the part-time dream, it might cut my commute by 30 miles, so I would be home more often.

Within the last four years I've been working to broaden my educational base for the purpose of giving myself more options. Hopefully it works and I get a phone call for an interview soon!

Posted by: RC at June 24, 2008 12:55 PM

I have no idea, but I know it would be in Baltimore and that I'd have flexible hours and I could walk to it from my house and it would challenge me creatively and I would feel fulfilled and that I would love love love love love love love it.

Posted by: GreenCanary at June 24, 2008 12:56 PM

Hmm... I think I'd run a bookstore that offered some basic web programming and design classes. And sold tasty coffee. Unfortunately, there's no money in that.

I actually enjoyed my time in retail. It was ever-changing and interesting.

What I'm doing now? Not so much. :p I'd be happy to go to back to being a project manager type on web projects though.

Posted by: Lisa at June 24, 2008 1:14 PM

My son when he graduated pre-school 6 years ago he said he wanted to be a Ninja police officer. What's that we asked? Well you're a police officer and then when things get really bad and the bad guys get physical you become a Ninja. At 10 entering the 5th grade he now wants to become an Intelligence office working in decoding. I love that he wants to become all the things, because I don't think there's anyway at 18 in college people know what they want to do with the rest of their lives. I have a business degree. I hate business.

If money were no object I'd be actress on stage. Because it pays crap, but god I loved being on stage when I did it for 6 years. I don't have to work thankfully anymore, but I miss that stage.

Posted by: Michele at June 24, 2008 1:17 PM

At the risk of sounding boring, I'm an accountant and I actually enjoy it. I'm at a high enough level in my career that I get to do the interesting things and it pays pretty well. I think if I could do this part time it would be a perfect career for me.

When I first went to college, my plan was to be a chemical engineer. Unfortunately, I found out that I didn't like chemistry as much as I liked my high school chemistry teacher.

I do see exactly what you mean about narrowing options though. After I got my CPA, I moved on to a position in investing and had a hard time switching back to accounting without stepping way back in my career path.

Posted by: SarraJK at June 24, 2008 1:36 PM

When the weather is cold, wet, and nasty, I'm convinced that I want to open a combination bookstore/bakery. When the weather is mild and beautiful, I want to be a nature photographer. No reason I can't do both, but since I have none of the skills necessary to do either of these things, I'm staying where I am. IT isn't the most glamorous gig, but it keeps my fridge full of frozen waffles.

Posted by: J at June 24, 2008 1:45 PM

I love being a nurse but there are days when seeing these patients who are very young, dying, and depressed (hard to imagine, right?) gets to me and I think that I should have been a flower arranger. I am back in school for a masters degree/ nurse practitioner but wonder if maybe I should do something completely different- Flower arranging, here I come...

Posted by: Amanda at June 24, 2008 1:55 PM

I'm almost where I want to be. I've got a few more years and I'll have my PharmD - then I'll do a residency and I'll work in a hospital for the rest of my life. And that's where I want to be without a doubt. But it took me years to discover that. Even if I won the lottery tomorrow, I'd be doing the same thing.

Except I'd have a nanny.

Posted by: sunshine at June 24, 2008 3:02 PM

I am looking for work and have been for the last six months... having said that, what I would love to do if I could do anything at all is be the person who touches up and makes perfect all that high fashion photography.

Bring on the super models and couture!

Posted by: Debra at June 24, 2008 3:41 PM

Those are two very different questions. Re the first, I am doing what I want to do (lawyerin')in that I enjoy my day to day work well enough, and make more money doing this than I could doing anything else (well, anything legal).

Re the second, if money were no object, I'd try to be a travel writer. Sadly, I'm too risk-adverse (and mortgage/school loan-laden) to try that sweet gig.

Posted by: Vaguely Urban at June 24, 2008 3:49 PM

I dropped out of my career into a job that, most of the time, I love. I quit my office job, gave up half way through my masters degree (accounting & infosys) and took a job doing graphic design. My salary is much, much lower than it was, but my anxiety levels are way down and looking forward to my work day is way up. I feel like I'm playing at having a job until someone makes me go and get a real one again someday. I am extremely fortunate that my boyfriend makes enough money for this change to be possible.

Posted by: Melissa at June 24, 2008 3:58 PM

I still have no idea what I want to be when I grow up. Although, if money were no object, I'd open up a funky little independent bookstore, and do a lot of travelling. And go back to school to study all those other subjects I never got to in my extended theatre/music/anthropology/journalism/psychology degree (I did a lot of post-secondary schooling, as my student debt will attest, due to this very problem of not knowing what I want to be when I grow up...)

Posted by: suze at June 24, 2008 4:16 PM

Huh, I think money being the necessary object that it is, is the only reason I do work. If it wasn't, I'd read all the books in the world, play with kids (which is what I do now, but I'd only do it when I felt like it), learn to sew, write, and make art, oh, and help people who needed it. At least I hope I would.

I suppose many of those things could end up being jobs if I did them consistently enough, but I don't think it would be work if I didn't HAVE to do them.

Posted by: Jess at June 24, 2008 4:22 PM

I hope that I am currently on the way to that dream job. I'm getting my degree in Psychology and pursuing certification in Equine Facilitated Mental Health. I want to work with kids and youth, and have a farm/ranch where they feel safe and loved, where they can bond with the horses and other animals, and I can help them and do some good. Like a few others though I have $1M+ startup costs - so the dream's a ways off. But I'm heading in that direction.

Posted by: Heather at June 24, 2008 5:31 PM

I'd spend my days baking and sharing peoples best moments, birthdays, anniversaries, weddings. I'm actually struggling with this right now. I've got a possibility of my own pastry shop dangling in front of me, but I'm actually working in an amazing field with amazing people and have never been happier. But it isn't what I'm best at. And it gets tiring having people tell you all day that you're in the wrong business. So right back at you - If you got the shot to be a dolphin trainer in the Caribbean or something equally amazing or perfect for you, would you jump the safe and comfy ship and take it?

Posted by: OS at June 24, 2008 5:42 PM

Bet you can't guess....cat rescue!

I've thought the same thing all my working life (I didn't start working until my kids were in school) and am still trying to figure it out. I always wondered if other people thought the way I thought too....and they do!

Right now, I'm looking forward to retirement. It's still a little while off, but not so long I can't 'think' about it.

I have a nice job, no pressure, no one standing over me, we all know what is expected of us and we get it done. "I" attend as few meeting as posssible, though I could generate more if I wanted.

Posted by: been there, done that at June 24, 2008 6:28 PM

I have absolutely no idea. The sad thing is, if money was no object? I'd still have no idea, really, and would probably end up doing 3 or 4 different things. What I do know is I can't stand to be bored and have nothing to do - I need to have something. I just have no idea what.

Posted by: Dawn at June 24, 2008 6:47 PM

I don't hate my job, but it's not what I want to do for the rest of my life (working at a doctor's office). I really want to go to grad school and get my MA in English, but I don't want to teach, so what could I really do with that? I still don't have a clue what I want to do, but I'm earning money while I figure it out. And if I could afford it, I would just go to concerts all the time - not "follow bands around," just go to shows. That would be my dream gig!

Posted by: Stephanie at June 24, 2008 7:04 PM

My parents rocked in so many areas and I'm a serious force to reckon with when it comes to standing up for what's right. I could go on and on in the areas where I think they excelled and I will definitely continue those lessons with my daughter. But I don't remember anyone telling me at a young age just how important it was to start making decisions and focusing on my education - and forcing me to see the effect failing to do so would have later on in life. I think they didn't feel they needed to - I was in a program that was beyond gifted.. we decided when to study, what to study - and when I wasn't challenged, I just screwed around. when I hit highschool I chose to merge with my friends and I didn't have to try. I hit college and I didn't go to class much and got mad when my grades were lowered based on attendance.

I could write the longest comment on record of how I basically re-educated myself in another field to make more money, but was miserable. My professional life is riddled with regrets - hell, my last job ended in pending litigation.. and I believe I ended up in that job because I HAD to take something, anything to support my child. That's completely different than being equipped and ready to go out into the world and have opportunity come to you.

I would love to be a DA. But being a mother pretty much rocks beyond all my wildest dreams.

This ended up being pretty damned long anyway!

I don't have time to check for errors or nonsensical grammar - Faith is screaming.. Boom has turned off!

Posted by: holli at June 24, 2008 7:06 PM

I'm in HR, and considering my original plan was psychology, I'd say there are correlations.

If money was no object, my "gig" would be philanthrophy and managing my money. Okay, it'd more likely be something like high end real estate or house flipping, interspersed with trips to Vegas with my girlfriends.

Posted by: coolchick at June 24, 2008 8:00 PM

I wish I had an awesome answer to this, but I don't. I "fell" into IT when I was 18. It was fun, geeky, and well there were only a few people doing it, so I sorta felt like a trendsetter.. especially being female, definately a minority in the mid-90s. I went to school to be an elementary education teacher. I wanted to teach 1st grade. I look back and can't even pretend to see myself in that role. (I dropped out of college after the first semester.. only to rejoin later in life for a bs in Business Managment - oh, and I don't really want to be a manager of anything, really.. it just seemed generic enough)

Honestly though, I'd love to own my own business. There are probably 3 things that I would want to be, and they could seemingly be related.. maybe..

1 - Open a brewery. - Hey, I live in Wisconsin! The husband and I homebrew a few times a year, and I think we've actually gotten pretty good at it. There is still a whole world of things that we'd have to learn, but it is something I could see us doing someday. (if money were no object)

2 - My brother and I have always talked about opening a bakery. He and I, for some strange reason, happen to actually have a pretty good talent when it comes to baked goods, cakes and decorating. I have no idea where either of us learned this.

3 - I'd tell you, but its something we're actually sort of pursuing, so .. maybe when/if it all works out. :D

Posted by: Molly at June 24, 2008 11:05 PM

Photograph disappearing bits of Americana.

Posted by: Stella at June 24, 2008 11:16 PM

Well, I wanted to be an airline pilot as a kid. Now I'm my hubby's girlfriend and a mom, and I'm pretty happy with that. My favorite job was a 911 dispatcher in my early 20's, I discovered that job and I were made for each other, but it didn't mix well with having kids.

I don't think it's possible to know what you want to do FOR THE REST OF YOUR LIFE because you continually change and grow! My sister-in-law knew at age 15 that she wanted to be a physical therapist. She put herself through school, put in a couple of years in a hospital, then started her own practice, and LOVED it! However, she's 45 now and I think she's bored with it. It's pretty hard to get rich in California if you're a small business owner. For a while she was terrified that Hillary would get elected - since both she and her husband are in health care, they faced almost certain unemployment.

I think if you find a job that you look forward to in the morning, you should stay with that job. I wish there was a way to make money from being a quilter, because that's what I love!

Posted by: Peggi at June 25, 2008 2:13 AM

I'd love to be a SAHM.

Posted by: Nadine at June 25, 2008 5:10 PM

Not really. Is not really an ok answer? See, I started my job as a web designer. Then, Not Meant For This Field Project Manager left. The problem was that Not Meant For This Field Project Manager handled website maintenance, so when they left, management came to me and said, "We think you'd be great for this!" Swell. We agreed I'd still get to design. I've been doing this since January, so almost seven months now, and I have counted that not once in the past four weeks have I gotten to design anything. I have gone to Big Bosses and said, "Hey, chiefs - this is not a good plan. Emily hates this. Emily's losing her mind." And they dance around and say, "Oh! We will fix it! Trust us!" I've been at the company almost four years. It's home to me, so I don't want to leave, but honest to God, how many second chances do you need? I'm to the point that I want to say, "Look here, motherfucker..."

Oh, wait - I didn't even answer the question...

If money was no object? I'd want to be a stay at home mom. Of course - I need the husband first, but you know - we're living in Fantasy Land here!

Posted by: Emily at June 25, 2008 10:00 PM

I've always wished that I became a sign language interpreter. But now, with me possibly having a form of arthritis in my hands, it's best that I didn't.

I really love what I do-working with special needs kids, but I think that if I had to choose something else it would be having my own bakery/bookstore. Cookies and Books. My two favorite things. :) I'd probably have a massive children's section and run kids programs in there too.

Posted by: Scattered Mom at June 27, 2008 12:16 AM

It's nice to know that a successful career man like yourself can still question what he wants to do with his life. Do you think you'll ever end up doing something different than what you do now?

Posted by: Zandria at June 29, 2008 2:47 PM

Thank you so much for all your comments... for a while you had me thinking you were talking about me!!! I have always been afraid to do what I really want! (Usually because I worry what others think of me and questioning if I will make enough money). Just now I realized I can be a florist/baker and not worry about starting from the bottom as long as my passion drives me I can overcome anything! Off to find schooling!! Thanks again...

Posted by: Brenda at July 16, 2008 3:05 PM


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