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over 1 year San Francisco Bay Area, CA, United States Story
What Do You Want to Do When You Grow Up?

It’s January and I’m in the middle of a three-day juice cleanse, longing for a piece of chocolate, which only confirms my need for a major detox. It’s a perfect time to clean out the old and bring in the new on multiple levels – my body, my life, my work. Once I lift that holiday fog, I can start thinking clearly about what I want to do when I grow up. For me, it’s always been about following my passion. Problem is, I have lots of passions, talents and interests, which has been evident in my multiple and unrelated careers. I envy the people who find that “one thing” they love to do more than anything else, be it teaching or acting or engineering. They may change companies or go out on their own, but their job is always the same. They never have to ask themselves that question – “What do I want to do when I grow up?”

Early in my career, I had one job, one career path. When I reached the pinnacle of that path, I got bored and left. I leapt off that corporate ladder and for the last fifteen years, I have never felt more exhilarated and confused about what to do. Sure, there have been weeks and even months at a time where I’ve felt like I was in the perfect flow. And then a sea change comes along and moves me in a completely different direction I never thought was part of my path. Like when I launched a spiritual retreat center. Or wrote a book about happiness. Or ran a community TV station. Or got my real estate license. Freedom to go with that flow breeds lots of joy, but it can also breed lots of insecurity about the future. If I had been born a generation or two earlier, life might have been easier and more stable. I would have kept one job my entire career until retirement. Today, I can’t ever imagine retiring in the traditional sense. Reinventing yes, but not retiring.

I open my project folder containing all my juicy, fun ideas, and I immediately feel that familiar sense of excitement and dread. There are books and blogs to write, song lyrics to put to music, my WALK & TALK™ advisory program to promote, my screenplay to shop, an Internet talk show to develop, a cooking class to launch. Too many ideas, too little time! I’m like a journalist at the start of an article asking myself the five “W’s”. Who do I want to be – a writer, a business consultant, a talk-show host? What do I enjoy the most? Where do I find the time and resources? When do I start? And the big question – How do I maintain a balance between unpredictable income projects and paid business consulting? Faced with so many unanswered questions, I do the only thing that makes any sense to me. I open my iTunes playlist and dance around my office to Pharrell Williams singing the “Happy” song! Business coaches might call this a stall technique. I don’t. When I’m stuck, I step away. I dance. I cook. I meditate. I exercise. I call a friend. I stop trying to figure it all out, and I wait.

This “do nothing” attitude certainly doesn’t come from my years of business training, but rather from my personal spiritual growth. Believe me, it’s not easy for a type A master of organization and execution to wait for anything! Whether it’s a book idea or a piece of chocolate. It’s taken me years of practice to learn how to take a step back and surrender to the natural flow of life, to being guided by something outside myself, and to being okay with not knowing what’s next. I constantly have to relearn how “to be” instead of “to do”. To be in a state of gratitude and to be in the present moment. I know that the inspiration on what to do will eventually come. Just like it came today when I was called to write this article.

We all crave security and logic and predictability, but life is anything but that. It’s forever changing and evolving. My answer to the question, “What will you do when you grow up?” is simple. Never grow up. Just keep growing.

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  • Britney Smitley
    Britney Smitley Writer.Mother.Bad-A
    over 1 year ago Columbus, OH, United States

    After reading this I believe we are the same person. 💗

    After reading this I believe we are the same person. 💗

      over 1 year ago San Francisco Bay Area, CA, United States



Inspiring personal growth, professional success and positive change. Author of The Goddess of Happiness, Vita’s Will and Note to Self: Love (Book & Screenplay). Lover of food, fashion, fitness, funky music, dogs, dancing, cooking, laughter and anything Italian.

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