I was at a friend of my fathers the other day for dinner with the rest of his friends and they were making some comments about kids moving back home. Their comments were typical of “parental units,” they jokingly said that the kids were “having difficulty finding themselves.”
After thinking about it for a few moments, I got a little upset with the thought that the premise these parents were taking. Whatever their reason for the comments: “lack of success” by the child, they’ve made it why can’t their kids, or just being “out of touch” with the state of our economy, it irked me. I considered it a little longer and I boiled it down to a few perspectives of one that is changing with the times:
- Finding yourself
- Finding a job
- Finding work
- Finding a market
1. Finding Oneself. Finding oneself is of utmost importance and a parent’s job is to encourage as much experimentation as possible for their kids growing up to see how they’re going to turn out. Once they know their kids talents parents need to put “gas on the fire” when kids find out what they love to do to encourage them to excel. Some kids have tons of talents, some have less. But parents forcing kids to do something they’re not talented for, or making “you’re not trying hard enough” comments, does not make a kid necessarily try harder.
In March of 2010 I met local author Tama Kieves (and her “Awakening Artistry”) workshops. She talks about telling her parents as a young girl that she wanted to be a writer. She was told she was going to law school, which she dutifully did: Harvard Law. She graduated cum laude and got into a corporate law firm and hated it. After some soul searching she left it to pursue her new career in writing. It took her years to find, to undo expectations, and to grow into what she loved to do: writing.
There are ways of finding out what you love to do, but this the first step. You can take some personality tests that will help define who you are, take the Strengths Finder test to see what skills are tops and to concentrate on them, and lastly, once you have narrowed down what you are passionate about and have talents for, follow through to the next step.
2. Finding a job. Sometimes you have to take a job “just to get by.” But don’t look at a job as a death sentence. You can ALWAYS learn something from each place you work. What you love to do, and especially what you don’t want to do. But learn it anyway, it just might help down the road at some point.
If you have taken some tests to see what you’re good at and what you LOVE to do, now you need to see about working in that industry and see if you are any good at it, really. If you love to work in a bakery, then find a bakery to work in. If you love golf, find a club house to work at. If you love Macs, find an local Apple store or Mac reseller and see if you can work there to gain experience. Work in an area that is similar to what you want to do for the rest of your life.
3. Finding work. This means that you are open to the possibility that that might be more to making money than looking for a job, i.e. looking for an opportunity of starting a business or do some freelance work. When you say you’re looking for work, you allow the potential of doing something different or more to come into the picture.
If you have enough gumption, you can take the next step and find out how good you really are.
4. Finding a market. Now you’re talking. Here’s where you maximize your talent and start your own business in the area you love to work in. Or create a new market like “Hello, my name is Scott,” who worked for years in his parents basement to build a business around being approachable. And getting back to the parental comments above, here’s where finding “oneself” really means that you’re finding out what the market needs. Getting fired or laid off is personal, whether we like it or not. It takes a personal toll, but it’s a matter of working on bouncing back from this defeat.
Parents can never stop being parents. But those that are retired or have only been in the “job track” working for someone else may not understand Scott’s reasonings for moving into his parents basement. Scott moved into his parent’s house to save money on rent UNTIL he could move out. It’s no different when starting a bakery living inside your bakery until you can afford to live in a place to call home. You’re saving money to build a business so you can live better later on. Pay now to play later, not play and pay later.
Nonetheless, a parent’s lack of understanding of what it takes to run a business can come out as a negative that you’re “finding yourself” when in fact you’re trying to see where the market is in order to make money to live. Scott’s parents at least gave him the chance to work it out, as long as it took. Why? First, because they loved their son. Other reasons: they believed in their son, wanted to support their son, or they already knew what it took to start a business and keeping costs low.
But in cases where parents are “jobbers,” those that have only worked for others or the government, should not be so quick to judge their or any other kids. Times and environments change and what was true 10 years ago is not true for today. What was true just three years ago is not true for today. Applying old school ideas and jobs may not work in today’s market as things have a way of becoming obsolete. This includes attending college. Today’s college tuition is skyrocketing past most people’s ability to pay to attend and incurring debt is becoming a harder choice to say yes to being able to pay it off.
At the turn of the 1900s buggy whip manufacturers to make horses go were the hot jobs, but within a few decades they were replaced by carburetors that made cars go. That means a skill change. So the next time you come across someone that is “finding oneself,” it may be true, more importantly, they’re trying to find where their skills fit into a changing market. Where they fit into the change occurring within the market and society. It means finding oneself, again.
So, there’s your four steps. I hope you find what you’re looking for.