professional kidsWhen I tell people what I do as a coach, sometimes I say:


“I help people figure out what they want to be when they grow up… at any age.”


That usually gets a smirk, and sometimes it elicits something like:


“Hey, I’m grown up, and I don’t really know what I want to be when I grow up.”


If you feel that way, first, please know that you’re not alone. But second, here’s what I’d like to tell you:


You already know what you want to be—you may just not realize how much you know


What do I mean by that? I mean that all of us have memories of experiences, in our own lives, that worked really well for us.


Think of experiences when:


  • You were firing on all cylinders
  • You felt energized
  • Things seemed to flow effortlessly
  • You felt fulfilled and satisfied

Wouldn’t you want to feel that way more of the time? Maybe you should be doing more of what you were doing when you’ve felt that way.


Do more of what you know works for you


Maybe you were scoring a goal during physical education class in elementary school. Or maybe you were building model airplanes. Or getting lost in a book. Or talking with friends about deep subjects. Or gardening. Or putting on a talent show.


For me, I can remember playing guitar as a teenager and losing time to the point that hours had passed and they seemed like mere minutes to me.


So what am I saying? That if you liked scoring goals as a kid you should be an athlete when you grow up? And that if you loved reading, you should be a “professional reader”? Does that even exist!?


No, what I’m saying is that if you collect enough of those memories about when you were energized, in flow, or feeling fulfilled and satisfied, you’ll start seeing some patterns that tell you the conditions that are present for you when you’re On Purpose.


What’s present for your when you’re On Purpose?


It’s different for everyone. For me, my Purpose didn’t end up being about playing guitar, or even about music. When I thought of other times when I felt On Purpose and noticed the patterns, I discovered that I’m in flow when I feel like I’m developing my natural talents—of which musical ability was one. I also noticed that throughout my life I’ve always felt energized and most satisfied when I’m using those talents to help other people in some way.


After going through all my stories and lining up the patterns, I distilled them into my Personal Purpose statement:


My Purpose is to travel my unique path, and enjoy the rewards of engaging in creative and meaningful experiences, using my talents to help others along the way.


I’m a coach now, yet there’s nothing in my Purpose statement about coaching. True; however, knowing my Purpose absolutely informed my choice to do coaching for work.


Your Purpose can signal what you should do for work


I’m not guaranteeing that if you go through this exercise you’ll come out with a Purpose statement that points directly to what you should be doing for work. Still, getting clear on your Purpose is a great start.


I mentioned at the beginning of this article that you probably already know what you want to be when you grow up—even if you didn’t realize it. I’ll admit now that I meant for my statement to be interpreted in a couple of ways:


Way #1 – What you want to be = What you want to do for work

If you get more clear about what’s gotten you firing on all cylinders, energized, and in flow in the past, you might very well know exactly what you should be doing for work. And if you do, congratulations! You’re in the minority.


Way #2 – What you want to be = How you want to live

If you get clear about those things and it doesn’t lead you to a clear, logical conclusion about what you should be doing for work, maybe you should consider simply being On Purpose.


I love this quote that reminds me of wanting to be On Purpose:


“When I went to school, they asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up. I wrote down ‘happy’. They told me I didn’t understand the assignment, and I told them they didn’t understand life.”


– John Lennon


Whether what you want to “be” when you grow up is “happy,” or “On Purpose,” or something else, maybe it’s time to figure out how to do more of what enables you to be that.



Guillermo Villar is principal coach with Cambio Coaching. He helps high achieving professionals experience more fulfillment in their work lives and offers a 2-hour meeting to help clients identify their Personal Purpose.