Is it ever too early to start talking to kids about making a living doing what they love?

My friend and mentor, Barbara Winter asked this question on Facebook, “How do you keep your curiosity alive?” My initial response was that curiosity is an innate trait rather than a skill that needs to be honed. However, Barbara replied that all two year olds are curious-we all are born with curiosity  but it is often discouraged. That makes sense to me. While in my family of origin, curiosity was valued and encouraged, I married into a more reserved family and my husband was embarrassed when I would ask too many questions, calling it “nosey”.

This conversation on FB reminded me of all the valuable human traits we are born with but taught to suppress in favor of politeness, safety or fitting the mold.

About a year ago, I read an article in a Canadian newspaper about a study done in Ottowa schools. As I recall, the conclusion was that career counseling should start as early as 6th grade. That may seem very young for a student to begin planning for a career but think about one of the first questions nearly every re-careering coach asks you. What kinds of things fascinated you when you were a child? What could you spend hours doing?

Since our earliest interests are key to our ideal livelihood, it sure seems reasonable that we’d begin exploring viable career options with kids in elementary school. The occupation a child aspires to at that age is based on passion, not paycheck and external expectations. So, exploring different careers at such an early age may just keep young people more focused on making a living doing something they love rather than what their parents, teachers or society deem an appropriate career for them.

Many schools do have a career day of some sort that involves parents coming to school and discussing what they do and students have the opportunity to shadow an adult at work for a day. When my son was in grade school, there were two commercial pilots and a pitcher for the Padres among the parents. When I suggested that either my husband or I go to talk about being entrepreneurs, our son said, “no one wants to grow up to be a business man.” I agree that if we went to school and talked about sales quotas, projections and balance sheets we’d have put the kids to sleep (and embarrassed our son). But talking about getting paid to do what you love and the benefits of self employment (like taking your dog to work or  taking your work and your kids on a  snorkeling vacation) would have peeked their interest in entrepreneurship.

In primary school, all the boys wanted to be firemen or policemen because they were heros. Why not show them examples of businesses that make a difference and improve lives; entrepreneurs who teach a whole village to make a living and bring schools,  clean drinking water and shoes to children their age? Almost daily I hear from middle aged adults who’ve spent decades in a career they were bored with, chosen because they were told they had an aptitude for it or because it was expected of them. They are looking for something that has more meaning, that they enjoy. What would happen if we didn’t have to go back and reconnect with the passions of our youth because we were encouraged in grade school to start thinking about doing something we love for a living instead?

Do you remember what you loved to do as a child? Were you encouraged to think about doing that for a living? What kinds of messages did parents, teachers and advisors give you about career choices? Were they based on your passions or your aptitude and societies expectations? As always, you are invited to share your thoughts with our readers below.

Permission to Unplug

Do you ever feel like you are just so overwhelmed with emails, newsletters and google alerts that you don’t know what to respond to first? Or that if you don’t keep up with everything  related to your business you will miss something vitally important?  Between invitations to join free tele-seminars, podcasts and  webinars, you can easily spend the entire day without even connecting on the social networks or checking the blog posts in your RSS feed reader.

In the fall of last year, I was feeling absolutely overwhelmed with electronic information.  My head was spinning with all the input and I had no time or energy left for “output” such as product creation or my own writing.  I wasn’t sleeping well because I couldn’t stop the flow of ideas and felt that I never had time to execute all of them.

What I previously saw as a gift, my ability to continuously generate new ideas, felt more like a curse. Nonstop internal chatter was beginning to interfere with my ability to give my private clients the focused attention they deserved. Because my commitment to clients is my priority,  I wasn’t following through on several projects I’d started. While I solved that by sharing some of those business ideas with colleagues and clients who could implement them, I was feeling anxiety about not developing new programs for 2011.

My son was coming for a week at Thanksgiving and I didn’t want to be frazzled and grouchy so I made a BIG, DRASTIC DECISION. I gave myself permission to UNPLUG. Not just for a few days but for as long as it took to refresh and refocus. I did scroll through emails once daily just to make sure there was nothing urgent from family or friends, but left hundreds of emails unopened, didn’t check in on Facebook or Twitter or read blogs. And my world didn’t fall apart. Rather, things started coming together again.

Yes, this is contradictory to the advise you receive from business coaches and mentors. I too recommend reaching out to your readers and followers regularly through blog posts, newsletters and social networking. You do need to stay current on what’s happening in your industry, but at what point are you trying to process so much information that you put off making decisions for fear of making the wrong decision?

There’s lots of information online about how to manage your time, apps for handling that information and an overwhelming number of articles about how to get out of overwhelm. Even with good time management, there is just so much information out there that if you try to read everything for fear of missing something, you may just end up doing nothing. Maybe it’s time you give yourself permission to unplug and get centered. You’ll likely come back refreshed, recharged and ready to focus.

As always, your comments are welcome below.  I’d love to hear how you handle information overload.