We always ask kids WHAT they want to be when they grow up, and I can’t think of a worse question… Most of the time, I believe adults ask kids what they want to be when they grow up because the adults are still looking for good answers to that question!

Did you know that current projections suggest that college-aged young adults will have about 9 jobs on average and that 7 of them do not even exist yet?

The speed of change in our society is so fast that their third job hasn’t even been invented yet. Think back to when you were in 5th grade. Did you know Community Manager was a job? What about TikTok-er, YouTuber, or any social media job? Did you know that freelancer, Uber, or anything else in the gig economy was an option?

WHAT you do for a living can change and has very little to do with your happiness or ultimate fulfillment. I believe that HOW you work and live is much more critical.

HOW do you want to be when you grow up?

I don’t think most children or adults have considered the question. Rather than dreaming about being an astronaut, professional athlete, or ballerina, we could be teaching kids to think about HOW they want to live.

Personally, I want to be a Playful Human. I want to be happy, healthy, wealthy, wise, fit, fun, productive, passionate, charismatic, creative, and kind. I have those words on my office wall. If I spend most of my time becoming those characteristics, then I will be living the life of my dreams regardless of WHAT I am doing.

WHY do you want to grow up?

WHY do you want to grow up is a great question to start with… Growing up physically is not really a choice. You can’t do anything about growing up and older, but growing up mentally and emotionally can be a trap.

Did you know that over 80% of third-graders have genius levels of creativity, but only 3% of us remain creative after college?

I think some of the emotional control, logic, and responsibility we teach children are dangerous for adults, especially in our volatile culture. Most adults have over-optimized for control, safety, and fitting in based on the lessons of school and childhood. Now, we need to be more emotional. We need to be more spontaneous and creative. We need to take emotional and intellectual risks, and we are not conditioned for it anymore.

WHY you are here and WHY you are valuable to others is an important question, but remember that your WHY is not a WHAT. Your WHY is often found in HOW and with WHOM you choose to live.

With WHOM do you want to grow up?

This a critical question to your overall happiness and success. You are an average of the people you spend the most time around. If you surround yourself with serious adults, you will become one. If you spend the most time with creative, playful, and passionate people, you become more of those traits as well.

It doesn’t always work. You can’t hang around tall people and expect to grow taller in adulthood, but you would be surprised how much can change. Humans have mirror neurons, and our emotions, beliefs, and intelligence is contagious. We can choose to spread happiness and surround ourselves with playful people. Obviously, choosing a life partner is an extremely important question to our overall health, happiness, and success, but don’t forget to spend as much time thinking about your friends, work culture, and family.

WHEN do you want to grow up?

This is an interesting question for children and adults…

Did you know that most children are quitting recreational sports by the age of 13 because it has become to stressful? It is no longer fun and feels like a job.

NEVER might be a good answer to the question, but beyond that, maybe it doesn’t need to be a switch from child to adult. Maybe you can choose WHEN it is valuable to think like an adult and WHEN it is more valuable to think, act, and play like a child.

There are probably times in your life WHEN it pays to grow up, pay your taxes, and worry a bit about the safety and security of your family. However, ask yourself this question…

Are there times or situations WHEN I need to be more childlike?

Personally, I find tremendous value in playing with children, thinking creatively, building Lego, putting on a show, feeling my emotions, taking a nap, eating too much sugar, or giggling at an inappropriate joke… How about you?

WHERE do you want to grow up?

WHERE, in terms of location, is a fun question. There are happier cities and countries than others. Most people choose to grow up in the same place or WHERE they get a job, but you can choose to move at any time…

Do you need to be more playful at home or work? Do you need to spend more time outside? Are you in a home office by yourself, or are you growing up surrounded by inspiring people?

WHERE do you spend your time, money, and attention? Is it on your phone or in real life? WHERE do you want to when you have children? WHERE do you want to be when you retire?

These are all more interesting questions than WHAT do you want to do for a living when you grow up. I think we need to encourage more Playful Humans by letting children be kids, and by asking adults more interesting questions.

How do you want to be when you grow up?

Please share in the comments below.

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