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seeing what I want to be when I grow up

December 6, 2011

The future is not a result of choices among alternative paths offered by the present, but a place that is created–created first in the mind and will, created next in activity. The future is not some place we are going to, but one we are creating. The paths are not to be found, but made, and the activity of making them, changes both the maker and the destination. – John Schaar

Do you remember the day you graduated from Primary School? The sadness of leaving what were then effectively life long friends? The uncertainty around what High School would hold? A sense that a big step was being taken into the wider world towards being a grown-up?

Or maybe that is just how I want to remember it.

My daughter graduated from primary school this week so my memories of that event are much clearer! The ceremony that the school put together with the kids was wonderful and moved many to tears – parents, grandparents and kids alike. There was a lot of remembering of the events of the past eight years. Happy times, sad times, challenging times. Rewarding times.

There were also some words spoken about what lies before the graduating class. In the short-term it is High School. Beyond that, well who can say …

The promise of a future full of opportunity was held out to every child. The gratitude that that should be the case was shared by every parent.

After the formal part of the evening there was a small celebration in the school hall. Every student had prepared an A3 poster to represent how they see the journey they have taken up to this point in their lives (I wonder what mine would look like if I was asked to do one today? I wonder what yours would look like?)

Everything about those posters told you something about the person who put it together. The pictures were worth far more than a mere thousand words. Some were neat and clean and carefully laid out. Others had a more chaotic feel. Stars and sparkle. Colour and collage. Short words and long paragraphs. Each one unique. Each one an expression of how they see their lives.

The one thing they had in common though was the open questions about their future. What would next year bring? A new school and new friends for sure. Beyond that, well who can say…

There was a cake, the unveiling of a plaque and some closing words and then a surprise – a couple of the parents had put together a simple presentation. One slide for each child in which they had photoshopped their face into an image that represented what the kids had said they wanted to be when they grow up.

It was a powerful experience for the parents. Seeing their child as a police officer, event planner, geologist, nurse, zoologist, artist or environmental engineer. Seeing a small piece of a possible future right now.

A possible future. Not impossible. And now seemingly a lot closer than it had been only moments before.

I have talked a little in this blog about how the images we form in our mind can influence what happens in the world. About the power of getting a clear picture of what we want and focusing on taking steps to create it. I have never seen that concept put into action so simply and so well.

What a powerful image to leave the graduating class with. To show them the future they dream of as if it has already manifest, created now in mind and will, and all they have to do is put one foot in front of another to take themselves there. What a wonderful gift.

So what do you want to be when you grow up?

It is a bit early for a new year resolution post but maybe it is not too late to create an image of who you want to be and share it with your friends and family. Maybe you will hear what many children were blessed to hear that night – I can just see you doing that in a couple of years! –  and you will have taken your next big step into the wider world towards who you want to be. Even if, like me, you aren’t in a particular hurry to grow up!


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One Comment leave one →
  1. December 6, 2011 4:06 pm

    If you would like to see someone who really powerfully created a vision of her future when it seemed that she had no future at all check out Amy Purdy on TED.


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