Do you remember the popular TV program called The Wonder Years that featured the ‘growing-up’ years of the main character – Kevin Arnold?
In one episode, Kevin – played by Fred Savage – went to work with his father, Jack (Dan Lauria), to see what his dad actually did to earn a living. He sat in his father’s office in the big swivel chair and contemplated what it would be like to become a top executive at Norcom; observing, as he did so, the difference in his father’s attitude when dealing with both his boss and his subordinates.
It was a very enlightening experience especially when Kevin asked his father the question,
“When did you decide you wanted to become a Manager at Norcom?”
The stuttering answer he received indicated that becoming part of the middle-management team at Norcom was never a choice he consciously made. It was something that just, kind-of, happened – all by itself. It was the natural product of life’s consequences being played out in the character – Jack Arnold’s – life. Sure, being an executive at this company was a good job, by all accounts: it enabled the Arnold family to live their comfortable middle-class life after all, but it was never the life that Jack consciously chose for himself.
And so too is it, with us! When we have no definite purpose identified and no proper goals to aim at, life is what happens to us. Life itself dictates where we go, what we do and what we become. And, you know, there is nothing wrong with that; after all, the world needs middle-managers to populate the executive positions at the corporate organisations that Norcom represents.
The tragedy is that, what life chooses for you – a product of circumstance and opportunity – is probably not what you would choose for yourself; given the opportunity to make a completely free choice. And that is what the question that Kevin poses is all about.
Do you remember being a child yourself and being asked that famous question: what do you want to be when you grow up? I am sure you do; and I am also sure that neither you, nor any of your friends would have answered that you wanted to become a part of the corporate empire of a large organisation that would provide security for your family. No – you would have answered, from your heart, that you wanted to become a footballer, a ballerina, an explorer, a nurse, a pilot or a missionary.
You would not have been thinking about practicalities: you would have been engaged in the type of thinking that many people have forgotten how to do. Why? Because you have been conditioned, over very many years, to believe that these notions were, and indeed still are, just impractical. Your parents, teachers and even your friends managed to talk you out of such aspirations until you too were prepared to settle for what life would choose for you.
But, do you know something? Wherever you are and whatever you are doing right now, it does not need to stay that way; unless, of course, you make a conscious choice to remain in your current position. Remember that there is nothing wrong with your current job, especially if your decision to remain in it is entirely your own, but if there is still something deep within you, an inner longing, that remains unfulfilled, perhaps now may be the time to rethink what your life is about.