What career should a baby choose?

By Matthew Jennings

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Just imagine you could have your life all over again. It’s your first few days on earth and you need to discover EVERYTHING.

You don’t know yet what you enjoy and what you don’t enjoy; what excites you and what bores you; what’s delicious and what’s disgusting. You don’t know anything about yourself yet.

You don’t know what you are capable of and you definitely don’t know the word can’t.  Did you know that the average baby spends 1,000 hours practicing walking ? Most babies are successful at standing on their own after their 600th attempt. They don’t give up easily. On the other hand, nor do parents – the average couple has 104 attempts to conceive (work, work, work). If you could apply that level of dedication to everything in your life you would be a winner, for sure.

Babies don’t know about work and careers. Their level of security, safety and comfort will depend to an extent on what their parents’ do for a living, but work is an abstract concept probably until they are about 14, maybe later.

As they start to grow older their world widens and they start to discover more and more.

Then, strangely, when they ‘grow up’, it narrows again. This is a self-inflicted narrowing based on perceived opportunity and fear.

No one would tell a baby that they can’t do anything when they grow up. My son (who is 5) wants to be a window cleaning vet. He wants to mend sick animals and give the windows a quick clean at the same time. I don’t know why. As far as he is concerned this is his dream job. He is already practicing cleaning windows and loves animals – in fact he loves dogs so much that he will walk up to a strange bull mastiff and stroke it, while his father quietly has a heart attack. His ambitions may change as he gets older, but who knows what lays ahead for him. I think a window cleaning vet would have a good career. I would choose him over a vet who couldn’t clean windows any day. It’s a two for one.

All we can do as parents is encourage our children to realise that the world is jam packed full of opportunities and give them every encouragement to be the best that they can be. We can lead by example by being the best that we can be and we can strive to widen their horizons.

No one knows what career a baby should choose. What’s right for you may not be right for them. All I know is that if they can find what they enjoy doing and practice doing it until they are good at what they enjoy, they will be well on their way.

The only way they can find what they enjoy doing is to try everything. Life is a smorgasbord, or a meze if you prefer?

“Listen to the mustn’ts, child.

Listen to the don’ts.

Listen to the shouldn’ts, the impossibles, the won’ts.

Listen to the never haves, then listen close to me… Anything can happen, child. Anything can be.”  Shel Silverstein


Matthew Jennings Co-author of the 7 Day Career Challenge and The Career Bible

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