I understood the question perfectly well.
Part of me really wish I could give a good answer. It would be so simple, so straightforward. When I was 7, I wanted to be a wood carver. Or a mountain climber. I knew neither, but thought they were both really cool things to do for a living. In middle school I wanted to go into the army and make a career there. In high school I decided to become a doctor – a brain surgeon, to be specific – and this was probably the most well-founded and thought through plan. Only the best was good enough.
Then, to quote some automotive engineers I used work with, “something strange happened”. I deterred from the path I thought I had laid out so well. Feeling not-quite-ready for 7 more years of school, I took a year off, traveled a little, worked a little. (For my American friends – this is not slacker mode, in Scandinavia this is super common!)
As I was preparing my med school application the year after, my friend’s mom told me about this theatre education that sounded really fun. I decided I’d treat myself to one year of fun studies prior to medical school.
Fast forward 9 years, and I find myself in San Diego, working with a tech startup in the talent industry. I have experience from hosting team building sessions and presentation technique classes, customer relations and quality assurance for a Silicon Valley startup, reducing energy consumption in the process industry, teaching solar light entrepreneurship in Kenya and building race cars.
So when my colleague and friend asked the simple question “So, what do you want to do?” – it’s not that simple. I have no plan. I have no master scheme. I have no map. I am going with the flow, enjoying the ride. Life has provided me with some extraordinary opportunities!
However, his questions did strike a nerve. I am also ambitious. Very ambitious. How do I combine going with the flow with standing up for myself, making me seen, and let my surroundings know what my intentions are?
The job in Silicon Valley didn’t come by itself. When the opportunity presented itself I grabbed a hold of it and told them to hire me. The job I am currently in is the same – I didn’t drift into it, I took a deliberate choice of leaving what I was doing and ask for an opportunity elsewhere.
So perhaps the flow I am going with is fuelled by ambition, motivation, dreams and aspirations. I just don’t have a clear picture of what they are.