Sunday, May 31, 2009

Shaping the Future

My daughter spends the same amount of time each week in jazz and ballet lessons. The other week, she said that she enjoyed jazz more than ballet. This was obvious from her performance at her recital the other day: while not a slouch at either, her jazz dance was noticeably better than her ballet, evident from the fullness of the dance moves to the expression on her face.

She’s going to face a lot of this as she grows up. She’ll like one academic subject more than another. She’ll like some jobs more than others. Life is filled with things we’d prefer not to do, but that we're obliged to do. Not surprisingly, we tend to show less resistance and make more investment in those things that we enjoy. Our results typically reflect this.

As she grows, there are three things I hope to help her figure out.

  • What do you enjoy doing?
  • How can you make a living at it?
  • Where do you want to live?
Once she enters the work force, she’ll spend a disproportionate amount of her waking hours in a variety of different jobs, hopefully in a definable career. If she’s not just holding down a job, but doing something that energizes and motivates her, she’s going to be a much happier person.

“Where” she lives will be just as important to her happiness as “what” she spends her time doing. Although a cratering global economy will restrain mobility for some years to come, generally speaking there are opportunities to live and work in a lot of different places worldwide. If we're good at what we do, we can create opportunities for ourselves anywhere in the world where there is demand. To a great extent, it's our choice to restrain ourselves geographically.

I can help her, but ultimately this is her voyage of discovery. I hope she finds things she enjoys doing, that give her runway to learn as well as opportunity to contribute. I hope she can define career opportunities for herself that leverage these areas of interest. And I hope she is able to see enough of the world first-hand to decide where she'll be happiest living.

If she does, she'll shape a fantastic future for herself.