What do I want to do when I grow up?

I know that I’m not the only one. I know others suffer from this too. My problem? I’m in my mid-50’s and I’m still trying to figure out what I want to do with my life. I’m not going through a major life-changing event or a mid-life crisis, I’m just trying to figure out how I want to spend the next, hopefully, four decades.

Here’s what I mean:

  • Since I work virtually from my home office, we could sell our house and move to sunny Florida, out west to say Montana or Utah or even a foreign country. I read all the time about Spain, Portugal, Thailand, France, Germany, Costa Rica being great places to live and retire abroad. I took Spanish in high school, it wouldn’t be hard to learn again, right?
  • With our kids grown and mostly out of the house, I could quit my job and try something new. We’ve talked of opening a coffee/pastry/book store/gift shop. I could be my own boss, right? I could try to become the next John Grisham. (Yea, I know it doesn’t quite work that way, but hang with me here.) It would probably be a bit early to retire for good, but why not? You only have one life right, you have to make the best of it. Finally, I used to throw a pretty good curve, I could try out to be a Major League Baseball pitcher. Yes, it would be a long shot, but have you looked at some of the relief pitchers that have jobs in the National League East?
  • I could quit my job and spend March to August, walking the Appalachian Trail, the 2,200 mile trail that runs from Springer Mountain, Georgia to Katahdin, Maine or I could go an international route and hike the 500 mile Camino Del Santiago, which travels from Saint Jean Pied de Port, France to the cathedral of Santiago de Compostela in northwestern Spain.

Oh the choices. There are many. No, I won’t be trying out for any baseball teams in the near future, that ship has sailed, and I doubt any long hikes are in my future, my wife looks at me like I’m a crazy fool anytime I suggest it, but I still have a lot of options.

When we were kids, my teachers encouraged us to dream, but still learn a valuable skill. Many of the students would stay close to home, but a few others would leave the area. As high school junior and senior, the question of what to do was a tough one for me. I figured the answer of how I was going to spend the next fifty years would come to me if I just buckled up, studied, and came up with a plan.

Of course, it didn’t happen that way.

It seemed so easy for everyone else. For our high school class valedictorian, it was college, obviously. We all knew that she was a whiz and was going to go far. For Jimmy, it was the military. For Greg, it was going into the family business.

In reality, we have a seeming endless amount of choices.

Oh, I’ve made choices over the years, but I still feel like that kid. Oh sure, I can eliminate a few options. Yes, Engineer, Emergency Room Doctor, Brain Surgeon, Math Teacher, NASA Astronaut are all off the table. They’re just not happening, but look what’s still on: Novel Writer, Adjunct College Professor, Teacher, and even Pet Sitter.

Yes, I’m older, I’m slower, I don’t hear as well as I used too, but I feel like I’m still working on that question. I get frustrated that I don’t have an answer, but I’m thinking that’s what life is all about, working to figure out what we want to do when we grow up, right up until the very end.

What do you think? Did you always know how you wanted to spend your life? Do you still think about the life questions? Did you follow your passion or did you make the sensible choice and follow opportunity?

Images via Pexels

51 thoughts on “What do I want to do when I grow up?

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    1. There’s lot of room, please join in, the more the merrier! You are so right, it’s not for the lack of ideas. I have way too many. I’m sure some would get tiring after a few days, but there are many others, where I look and say, yes, I could see my skills, life experiences, passions would really come in handy and be helpful in that job! I’m not trying to rise up the corporate ladder anymore, I’m just trying to find something that makes me a bit more happier. Thanks for chiming in. Good to know I’m not crazy. Errrrr, yes, I know I’m crazy, just not crazy about this topic. Thanks!

      Liked by 2 people

  1. I’m sure you’ve heard it said about patients on their deathbeds, and though I’m not there – yet – I can see its truth even now: You will, at the end, not regret what you did in life, but very much regret what you didn’t do in life. Get out there and try things! The worst thing that can happen is failure, and at your age, I’m pretty sure that’s not a novel thing to experience!

    Liked by 3 people

  2. Such fun, Brian! I love the coffee/pastry shop idea…with you playing barista and writing as you like! And think of all the amazing places, world-wide where that dream could become a reality! Most of all, it’s fun to muse and daydream about all of the possibilities! For me, I’m where I was always supposed to be, I think. Always knew I’d have a helper hat on, one way or another.
    xo and Happy Thursday to you…dream big, I say! 😊😊😊

    Liked by 3 people

    1. I like how you phrase that: “I’m where I was always supposed to be.” That’s a good place to be. Yea, what you’re hearing in my piece is some dreaming. I never want to stop dreaming. Some of the items are real goals, others not. Hiking the Appalachian, probably not. That’s itch that could get filled with a long hike one weekend. It’s the need to be out in nature. The Camino, I’m not so sure. That’s a desire to travel. The coffee shop? I don’t know what that is. I think that’s a desire to control more of my time. I’m still in the corporate environment. I probably will be for a few more years, but I see the time coming when I could get out of it. It’s definitely a desire to control more of my own time. I think too the post is about finding the balance between work and home. My home is good, it’s all about helping my kids when they need me and being a team with my wife. The writing? That will never go away. Who knows about a novel. But I’ll always write for myself. It’s my way of howling at the moon. It’s a way of getting stuff out of my system so that I don’t go crazy. Ha, ha.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. Oh boy — howling at the moon? I love that! Can I join you? That’s a great way of describing what I think I’m noodling with most days. Terrific expression! And…I have no doubts about writing figuring into your future. It just will! 😉

        Liked by 1 person

  3. I’ve made sensible choices but I’m ok with that. My life may be quiet, but I look forward to waking up every day and just doing what I do. I’m content with myself, so it works for me

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I would describe our situation in similar terms LA. I’ve saved and have worked much of my life. I’ve had to deal with the corporate ladder. In simple terms, I would probably describe what I’m feeling as a desire to control more of my time. I’m too early to retire, but I don’t want to continue knocking my head against a wall either, if that makes any sense. We’ll get there. Just me trying to figure things out. Thanks for stopping by.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. I really enjoyed this post, Brian. Similar to you, I’m still trying to figure it all out. I took the (bad) advice to follow my passion in college, struggled to find work, and stumbled into a tolerable career. I think that you’re right that it’s normal and healthy to keep asking the question throughout life… there’s always room for growth, and always opportunity for change.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes, I’m a creative in Corporate America. While I’ve made it work, I’ve never been a great fit. There’s still a part of me that’s square peg in a round hole. There will be a time, when I need to look outside. I’m still a ways from retiring, but I want more control of how I spend my time. (At the very least, I need to stop bringing work home with me.) And I’m convinced that you need to keep dreaming to keep yourself young at heart. Something like that.

      Liked by 2 people

  5. You aren’t alone Brian. I think many/most of us, if willing to admit it, are searching for different or newer pathways as we age. I’ve always been one of those *take the safe, logical route* people but after a year of retirement I’m cautiously venturing out and exploring more. Really, why not do something different if you can and think it sounds feasible. It’s too easy to let experiences pass us by. Jump in and see what happens. I’d come work in your bookstore, as long as you include a bookstore cat and comfy reading chairs!

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  6. Great topic. I like the ideas you’ve listed. A friend of mine is working remotely in Valencia as we speak! Walking the Camino sounds fun. I know a blogger who did that recently and found it meaningful. If you want to practice your Spanish, many animations have Spanish versions you can select from menu. Spanish is one of my favorite things. Let me know if you decide to pursue it! 🙂 Olé!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes, I listed lots of goals. I’m not sure about the Appalachian Trail, I think that’s more of a passing fancy, now the Camino, I definitely have a strong interest. I know Spanish isn’t a necessity, but I would want a stronger grasp of it than what I have now. I have a spiritual side which is definitely interested in the walk. Who knows … love dreaming!

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Embrace all of it, Brian, walk, throw curve balls, open a coffee shop/ book store. Being just ahead of you on the curve (60 now), I have found the opportunities are there, you just have to go for them. Like Victoria said, daydream and have fun. It will always take you somewhere.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Aww, this is great Davy. Love this response. I’m so glad to see that the opportunities are there. I’m still in the corporate world … the opportunities have most definitely started to dry up. I never mention my age, sometimes don’t mention having adult kids. Yes, I’m definitely dreaming, starting to see what else could be possible! Thanks so much for the encouragement and understanding, it means a lot.

      Liked by 1 person

  8. I followed my heart, but admittedly, sometimes my heart led me down the garden path, where I inevitably learned that there were lessons to be learned. When I retired in my my mid-60’s, I worried about what I would do for the next 40 years. (My mom lived to 101). Now I spend most of my days wondering how I ever had time to work. The last six months I spent praying my granddaughter through her 2200 mile trek on the AT. Wow. Better her than me—I prefer room service. Follow your heart, I say! Isn’t free will amazing?

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Oh, that’s awesome about your granddaughter. Has she started or will she be starting this spring? You’ve just hit the nail on the head on why I won’t be hiking the AT. I like my living quarters to be a little nicer than sharing some space with a mouse in an AT shelter! Ha, ha. Love that you’re enjoying your retirement. Gives me some hope. Love the advice too. Thanks so much for sharing.

      Liked by 1 person

  9. Actually, she completed the six-month trek last October, and oh boy, does she have some tales to tell. I think I could deal with mice a whole lot better than the bears and the snakes. Color me freaked out! 🤣

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Oh, that’s awesome. Glad she had fun. Yes, the bears would definitely be on my mind. We’ve spent a good amount of time in the Shenandoah National Park, which the AT travels though, and have seen the Park Rangers talk about the black bears. They’re no joke. But, so cool that she walked it!

      Liked by 1 person

  10. I love this post and the underlying exhortation to remind us all (even those of us over 50) to dream. It reminds me of a book I read recently by Arthur Brooks called From Strength to Strength. He argues that we need to find our why and in the over 50 category, remember that we probably have more crystalized intelligence (synthesis) than fluid intelligence (quick processing). It seems like your proposed jobs fall neatly into the right category for crystalized intelligence! Good luck, Brian. And when you figure it out, let me know! 🙂

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  11. I suppose the answer of whether I’m still trying to figure out what I want to be when I grow up is evidenced by the presence of “What Color is Your Parachute?” that’s sitting in the drawer beside me. 😁 In all honesty, I purchased it based on a recommendation when our company pulled Ops out of CA (I’m back with the same company now), but… I keep intending to go through it and figure out what my dream job is. I rather like the ideas you have though, especially the coffee and book shop thing. That sounds delightful. Better yet, just sipping coffee and writing from home. 😀

    Liked by 1 person

  12. There have been many forks in the road over the years, and on most occasions I probably took the much safer routes. I suspect now that I am older those less traveled, more unpredictable roads will see the most action because if not now, when? It doesn’t mean I have to grow up, just that I have to grow!

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  13. This is another excellent post, Brian. Forty years is a lot of time to plan for – the world could be your oyster. You’ve had some good ideas – I particularly love the coffee and bookshop. I’d be first in the queue for that. There’s nothing I like better when I’m out than to grab a coffee and take a book with me. Somehow, I can concentrate on reading better in a noisy atmosphere, as long as it’s a constant humdrum noise, not shouting or crockery smashing! Do you have Costa coffee shops over there? They do good coffee and vegan cake. I go there sometimes, and it completely takes me out of my head. Quite a good thing sometimes.

    At fifty-something, you still have time to reach for the stars. I’m 65 now, and I doubt very much that I’ll have another forty years on this planet – sad, really – and scary. My Mum lived until she was 86, so I’ll make it that far with a bit of luck. So, before you reach my age, go out there and get it – whatever it is! P.S. My dream at school was to be a nursery nurse, but I didn’t get the qualifications, so I became a personal l secretary to an MD in a boring shipping firm in Central London in the 1970s. Better pay, at least. Let us know what you decide if you come up with anything that really takes your fancy.

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    1. Costa sounds interesting. They have two stores in Atlanta, Georgia, but looks like they’re planning more. I’m definitely a dreamer, we’ll see what we actually end up doing. My story was just me coming to the realization that we have a lot of options. There’s definitely some financial concerns that will be top of mind for me, but I’m realizing that I don’t have to be stuck in boring Corporate America if I don’t want to be. We’ll see, lots of thinks to think through. Thanks for sharing, interesting to know how others have handled these issues.

      Liked by 1 person

  14. At seventy-three, I am working on my bucket list by writing poetry. The other big thing on my bucket list is painting, and I have done some of that too, but I am always frustrated by not being able to meet my own expectations. Maybe there is still a little time for that! My mother lived to be ninety.

    Wishing you fulfillment as you go through the second half of life, Brian. Maybe you should work on the hiking first while you are still in your prime, not Mt. Everest maybe, but somewhere inspiring. All the best! ❤

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Our expectations are a killer aren’t they?!?! Ha, ha, when I start a blog, I always have big thoughts in my head and then when I see what I have on screen and I’m like, ugh, how did I end up with this mess? In the end, I ask myself if it’s giving me peace, making my happy. I suspect that’s what you need to ask yourself about your painting. We’re always harder on ourselves. And yes, you’re right about the hiking. Small steps first. Thanks for commenting Cheryl. Appreciate you stopping by.

      Liked by 1 person

  15. Becoming a writer in my older years had never been part of my plan for the future. I’ve found that, on considering the options available with an open mind and trusting heart, the Cosmos has an uncanny way of revealing the next path in our journey. Believe. Be courageous.

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