What do you want to be when you grow up? This simple question gives permission to ignite a dream. Could it really be that easy? Very few of us work today in the career we first dreamed of as a child. But it’s a good place to begin. I read a study that children who grow up with disabilities are not asked that question until much later in life than typical kids. Let’s change that factor and include all kids in setting the stage for the future.
One of my earliest aspirations was to be a professional baseball player. I grew up with cerebral palsy and have used a wheelchair for most of my life. Eventually, I realized a career as a professional baseball player wasn’t going to happen; but I still liked being around the game. I thought about being a baseball coach or sportswriter. While I was in high school, I coached Little League baseball and wrote sports for my local newspaper. In the process, I discovered I liked working with kids.
I went to college to become a youth pastor. I soon realized there weren’t a lot of churches ready to hire someone in a wheelchair as a pastor. So, I started a ministry to help churches reach out to people with disabilities. This eventually led to what I do now; helping people and families affected by disability to unleash their God-given potential.
And it all started with wanting to become a professional baseball player. I believe the dream morphed because people did not tell me I couldn’t but let me explore options.
I am convinced that we are wired to do things that bring us joy and serve others. The following questions can help you think about what brings you joy and what you can do to meet the needs of others. You do not need to answer them all at once. This process works best when given time.
Is there a career or job that you think you’d enjoy? Maybe it’s a career that runs in your family, like law enforcement, a schoolteacher, a college professor or a professional athlete. How about the military? Whatever it is, name it. There’s power in identification. Voicing it makes it real and begins the adventure.
Some people may use the information they glean from this activity to engage in a volunteer opportunity, while others may seek a paying job, career, or higher education. For these questions, we use the words job, work, activity, employment, or calling to include all of these options.
Some of these questions may seem repetitive. The idea is to look from as many perspectives as possible. People with disabilities have the same right to risk, fail, or succeed as anyone else.
- Describe a time in life when you felt accomplished, successful, or delighted. What specific activity or experience created that feeling?
- If you could set up your ideal work, describe what it would be like every day. Give as much detail as you can.
- What would an average day be like?
- When would you get up?
- Can you do this job or activity from home, or would you need to go to an office or other location?
- If you have to go to another location how would you get there? Do you drive? Can you take a bus? Would you need a driver?
- If you got this job, what do you think a typical day would be like?
- What would your supervisor be like?
- Who are the people you’d be working with? What are they doing?
- Where can you learn more about this job? Consider books, job fairs, magazine articles, podcasts, TV shows, YouTube videos, and personal contacts.
- Who do you know who does this job? Have you spoken to them? Can you shadow them for a day, an hour?
- What is it about this job that appeals to you?
- What parts of this job do you think you could do extremely well? Why?
- What skills will you need to do this job?
- Where could you get these skills? Technical school, college, apprenticeship, on-the-job training?
- Have you talked with your family and friends who know you well about this job? How do they respond? Do they encourage you or are they apprehensive? What do they suggest you do next?
- Who are the people others suggest you talk to?
- Is there one part of this job or activity that excites you the most? What other jobs or activities could offer that same joy or satisfaction?
- What is one step you can take now to move toward this goal?
Another way some people learn more about themselves and their interests is to take a personality profile. We recommend the DISC profile and the CliftonStrengths 34 (formerly StrengthsFinders). You can take either profile through Luke 14 Exchange, Inc and we can help you process the results.
If you’d like to talk with someone about these questions or profiles, please reach out to us. We’d love to hear about the dreams God is igniting in you.