What do you want to be when you grow up?

(8 minute read) about being happy with what you have



Because I operate a clinic, I am sent all kinds of magazines to try out for free for a few months to leave in my waiting room. They send them to see if any stick with my clientele.  Hopefully they don’t. I try not to have people sit in my waiting room for more than 2 minutes. In fact, there are only 4 chairs in my waiting room, hopefully you never have to pick up a magazine while waiting over here. So the reality is the majority of these get recycled. Most without ever making it all the way up to the front.

As I was tossing another magazine away I noted the back cover of one that I found interesting. The picture shows a little boy running on the beach. A scene I live weekly down here on Beautiful Padre Island.

The quote that accompanies the picture says, “When I went to school, they asked what I wanted to be when I grew up; I answered Happy.”

This hit me like a ton of bricks. It’s what every parent wants for their children (I hope).

I lecture often to high school and college kids about the future of employment. Most of the time, teachers, counselors and professors want me to push my path – “Tell the why they should all stay in school for college and then pack on more for grad school.’

All because, in theory, more college equals more money which somehow leads to more happiness and fullfillment…But that’s not true. Maybe MY grandparents era this was true, say after WWII. But I don’t think that is the case anymore.

And I KNOW its not a case of more money = more happiness. 

More often than not, things come up about how the paths that we (their mom’s and dad’s) were pushed for as kids in school have diverged significantly. No one is going to wok a job for 40 years and retire with a golden watch.  They wouldn’t even want a golden watch!

I don’t care if any of my kids become chiropractors and want to take over the family business. I don’t care if they do the same sports I did or have the same interests as I do. I want my kids to see it all and then decide what makes their life spectacular. What keeps them HAPPY.

Look, I love my High School counselors and completely enjoyed college as far as the living with a bunch of similar aged young adults and the whole “life experience/life experiment.” I loved being a part of the football team there and the social aspect. High school and College is where my love for sports and the art of human bodies in movement blossomed and integrated itself to my whole sense of being. It led to my career. MINE.  Not everyone. Go to college, get a job, buy the house and cars…  I am not sold that is still the dream path that all kids should strive to follow.

If you want to be a nurse, a doctor, teacher etc – yes, you need a specific degree and a piece of paper at the end that states you have this higher knowledge and I’m not complaining or disagreeing with this in any part.  It was my path.

But the world has changed significantly.  Technology has exploded in an unprecedented way and I foresee a future where that may not be the case for my kids.  What if your love is computer programming and you are a superstar with this?  Do you think college will better prepare you than Google can?   Do you think Google even cares if you have that degree?

With the explosion of technology and inverse teaching of skill based work the other field that will blow up is vocational trades. I can barely program a remote control, let alone fix my washing machine and install lighting to my house. There is such a HUGE demand for jobs outside what the last 3 generations were repeatedly told. Worried about AI and the end of all humanity and decision making?  Vocational skills will still rein supreme and you’ll be employed kid! The robot rulers won’t have a huge need for mad chiropractic skills, they need a worker.

My path is not the path for all kids and may not even be the path for most. College definitely isn’t the fast track to making more money as my generation was told.  It’s a sure way to start out financially in debt. (also not necessarily a negative – the debt I carry is part of what makes us not scared of money.)  $85G for career that pays $45G is a hard pay back that’s for sure.

The majority of the people I know that make significantly more than me are not college educated and those that are don’t use their degree for the purpose they went to school.

I’m big into WHYS.  Why did you do that? Why is this item placed here? Why would you pursue a $50,000 /four year degree?  You need a why before you get that loan and it better make sense.   I’m not saying it’s a negative – I love my job and had to be self employed to live the life I wanted.  I had a reasonable why.   You have to be able to answer the why’s in life to narrow your path.   See, If I Gave Your Graduation Speech -Uncle Chad (My TED talk)

In my family, we watch the show DIRTY JOBS a lot. I don’t watch it to scare them into ‘going to college to get a better job’ -quite the opposite. We watch the show because it’s fun, silly and I want my kids to innately just know, there are a million ways to make a living. The money isn’t the goal. The goal is life. The living, the fun, the adventures and the way you spend your time on this rock we call home.

I spoke to my son this morning on the way to basketball camp and as we often do, we started talking about life. I told him of the back cover on the magazine…

“When I went to school, they asked what I wanted to be when I grew up; I answered Happy.”

We spoke about what that could mean for all of us, especially for him.

If that was an answer he remembered throughout his life it change potentially change everything for him. The job, the money, the type of car you drive – all of that becomes secondary in a HUGE way.  Life itself and the pursuit of happiness takes a priority, as it should be. I think the new 17-25 yr. old generation truly buys into this. They seek happiness and fulfillment that money, by experience, hasn’t brought them. They’ll not chase it they way many of us have.

Ten minutes later, as he ran off to basketball camp he look back at me and said, “Dad, I think that’s a pretty important thing to remember.  Probably everyone should think about this a little bit.”

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