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When I Grow Up ...

"Who do you want to be when you grow up?"

This question defined most of my group chats this past year, as we are all in very different life phases ... and no we do not consider ourselves to be fully 'adulting' yet.

Each year, my mother and I host a multi-generational, dynamic dinner party to kick off the New Year. Discussions span an array of topics ranging from current politics and global investment trends to conspiracy theories and the secret behind living a long and fulfilling life. These dinner parties have led to significant changes in my life such as engaging in joint investment opportunities and my decision 2 years ago to completely cut all animal products out of my diet (I have since settled for being a vegetarian during the week and pescatarian weekends). Needless to say, the conversations at our dinner parties are inspiring, thought-provoking, and as always filled with humor!

This year, the topic of "I STILL don't know what I want to be when I grow up" came up. Mind you at this point of the evening, I was the only millennial left at the table surrounded by well-accomplished and a few retired baby boomers. To my surprise, they all agreed that they are also STILL trying to answer the same question for themselves. Did I mention they've all had and continue to have very successful careers and are the epitome of black excellence in our communities?

I realized that evening, that we are all on this continuous journey of figuring out who we want to be when we grow up. Every successful person has re-invented themselves a few times, and they continue to do so on an ongoing basis. This is the process of becoming. If you've read my forever First Lady's bestseller, Becoming, you'll know that Mrs. Obama has also experienced this continuous internal dialogue.

So how do you ensure that you're not 'stuck' or in a standstill trying to figure out what exactly you want to do with your life, while still being able to pay off those school loans, your bills, text people back and experience some iteration of the adult social life we all foolishly spent our childhood looking forward to?

Try starting here:

  1. Define your advocation - What is the one thing that you care so much about, that you would advocate for it every day if you could? This is your passion.

  2. Passion to Profits - What are some skillsets that you have that could aid you in monetizing what you are passionate about? Also consider, what environment/audience would respond positively to your purpose and your behavioral/leadership style?

  3. Create your personal mission statement - In 1-2 sentences combine your advocation (what you love to do) with your skillsets (what comes naturally to you).

Here's my most recent personal mission statement: My purpose is to use my advocacy and community engagement skills to empower others, see possibilities, awaken people's spirit, and to help under-resourced communities create frameworks, programs and policies that will improve health and quality of life equitably.

I hope these steps help you as much as they've helped me! This process is supposed to challenge you, so get comfortable with being uncomfortable and enjoy the process of becoming. There is nothing wrong with not having all of the answers today. As John Lennon said, "everything will be okay in the end. If it's not okay, it's not the end."

With Gratitude,