It is a capital mistake to theorize before one has data. Insensibly one begins to twist facts to suit theories, instead of theories to suit facts. – Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, Sherlock Holmes
One of the small people that live with us asked at the dinner table, rather unexpectedly, “What should I do when I grow up?”
The other small person piped up immediately. “I thought you wanted to be a Lego designer?”
The first small person looked uncertain. “I’m not sure anymore.”
The question arose, I think, because they had been talking about the rise of automation in the world – and how you now had self driving cars and robot that flipped burgers.
What kind of jobs should a young person aspire to these days?
Although that concern, it has to be said, is not limited to young people.
We older ones have the same worries – are our skills still relevant in a networked, always on, social media ruled world?
When we look in the mirror what do we see staring back at us?
And does that person approve of who we have turned out to be?
There are a few ways to look at this – and one of them is to realise that the person you are now is not the person you were ten years ago.
If you could somehow talk to that other, older person, what would you say?
Would you tell them to take more risks, try more things, be more adventurous?
Would you have told them not to settle too quickly – to find something that they looked forward to doing every day?
Or would you have said that life is hard and life is grim and you need a job – so get a skill or a trade and get on with it.
You can always have fun when you’re at the pub or at a game – and leave the work behind.
Are you pleased that the older you made the decisions he or she did or are you resentful at the chances that were passed up and the opportunities that were missed?
But you are where you are, but there is a younger you, ten years from now, who will look back at you and ask the same questions.
How will you answer?
I think that when I was young I made too many decisions that were safe ones.
The time to take risks is when you have nothing to lose – and it is later in life when you have more and are responsible for more.
But then, when you are young, you know less – and that’s why having the right teacher is crucial.
And if you can’t find a teacher, finding the right books may help.
It’s a big responsibility to place on a child – asking them to decide what they are going to do for the next sixty or seventy years.
Instead, perhaps what you should do is help them go through the process of what you would do now, given the chance.
Try many things.
Reflect on which ones you like.
Observe the ones you like doing.
And see if there is a living to be made doing the things you like.
All too often we twist our hopes and dreams to fit a narrative of success.
But a story is no substitute for the real life you’re living.
What is your’s telling you about how you’re doing?