Find Purpose in Your Life and Your Kids Will Follow your Example
I have a lot of friends who grew up to be very successful people. They’re doctors and lawyers, accountants and programmers, and even professional athletes. I love learning about people’s professions and I often ask them “what made you choose this career?” I’ve gotten some really great answers over the years—including “I just fell into this” and “it was either this or trying to make it in stand-up comedy!”
One of the most common things people tell me is that their parents inspired them to pursue a certain career. One of my friends—who’s a podiatrist—told me that he always wanted to be a doctor, but his mom really pushed him towards podiatry because the specialty paid more. He enjoys what he does and I have to say, he’s not hurting for cash! It’s a great example of “mom knows best” that helped my friend figure out his career path.
Another one of my friends is a baker. She actually owns her own pastry shop—a business she took over from her dad about 10 years ago. I asked her about her career and she gave me an answer that was both similar and entirely different. I’ll paraphrase:
“I was absolutely destined to be a baker! It’s not just that my dad owned a bakery—it’s because from the time I could walk he was teaching me how to bake. I made my own birthday cake for my eighth birthday! I was lucky enough to discover this thing I was absolutely passionate about during the earliest years of my life and I still love everything about it today.”
Her answer blew me away. Again, it was a parent who showed her the way to her eventual career, but it wasn’t through poking or prodding. She didn’t feel like she had to become this thing that her dad already was. Instead, she embraced his passion for baking and discovered her own love for it. She became the thing she wanted to be thanks to her father.
To me, this is a really amazing concept. Any parent can set their child down a specific career path, but it’s an entirely different thing to inspire your child to embrace what they’re passionate about. I asked my friend if she thought her dad was the reason she became a baker, and here’s what she said (again, paraphrasing):
“Oh definitely. But I didn’t want to become a baker just because he was. For me it was about the feeling I got when he was teaching me and the excitement that came with creating something. I think I always would’ve become a baker; I was just fortunate enough to figure out my career earlier in life than most people do.”
Kids model their behavior after their parents. I think that if you’re someone who has discovered your purpose in life, it’s easier for your kids to figure out theirs as they mature and grow up. Sometimes they turn into a carbon copy of their parents like my friend the baker or—on a more relatable scale—Steve Irwin’s children, who carry on their dad’s legacy as a wildlife expert. Other times, they take cues from their parents who are happy in their own careers and decide to do something entirely different.
No matter the case, we as parents need to lead by example. Find your purpose in life and your kids will follow.