What do you want to be when you grow up? How to find your passion

Mar 28, 2024

Hitting the Boxing Day sales one January, I observed a young girl in a homewares store excitedly sharing plans for her new bedroom makeover.

As she spoke of her love of homewares, design and desire to become an interior decorator one day, I was struck by her complete sense of passion.

And clear vision for her future career at such a young age.

She reminded me of my younger sister at the same age. The creative little girl who turned her school projects into works of art — and dreamt of becoming an interior designer when she grew up.

Nearly 30 years later, my sister is a talented designer with a thriving business. She followed her passion, lives and breathes her work and absolutely loves what she does.

There’s also the childhood friend who declared back in primary school she was going to become a lawyer. She worked hard, performed well academically, went on to study and now practice law.

What do these stories have in common?

Each of these individuals had a clear passion which they followed. They knew what they wanted — and this shaped their decisions and actions, turning their dreams into reality.

So, how do you work out what you want to be when you grow up?

Read on to learn the 6 steps to finding your passion. You’ll discover what you truly want from your professional life, so YOU can craft your dream career too!

Before we dive deeper into this topic, I have one caveat. I don’t agree with the advice which is loosely thrown round to ‘follow your passions’. Because it puts unnecessary pressure on people — and not EVERY passion has to be your job!

In fact, the examples I shared earlier are the exception, not the majority. But what you can learn from their stories is when you’re clear on your direction, your vision becomes a reality.

I believe it’s important to consider what you enjoy alongside your strengths, purpose and values. Exploring your interests gives you clues about what you want next — and helps you choose the right career path.

Now this is clear, let’s run through these strategies!


A few years back, my siblings and I watched some old family videos. I’m talking the old-school kind filmed on my Dad’s VHS camcorder in the early 90’s — WELL before smartphones with video functionality were invented.

It was incredible to see our personalities and passions visible at such a young age. There I was performing for the camera, wanting to be the centre of attention!

It took me back to when I was 10 years old. With multiple passions, I wanted to be an actress, writer and director when I grew up. Careers that sounded glamorous, exciting, creative, full of variety and fun — where I could interact with people, be in the spotlight or be in charge.

It’s no surprise I became a coach and entrepreneur. Being in charge of my own schedule, connecting with people, writing, training or speaking to groups are all elements of what I do now!

As a kid, you dreamt big. You believed the world was your oyster and anything was possible.

And then, you grew up.

Because of your conditioning — what your parents, teachers or society told you was the ‘right’ thing to do, you settled for a sensible job or traditional career path. One that gave you wealth, security or a steady pay cheque.

Go back to when you were 10 years old…

What were you interested in? How did you love to spend your time? What did you want to be when you grew up?

From this unfiltered lens, your passions were clear. You had huge aspirations for the career and life you would one day create.

Reconnecting with your childhood interests is the first step to finding your passions. When you answer these questions from the perspective of your 10-year old self, you will reveal your innate talents and passions.


Next, consider your career history, past positions and decisions. Create a timeline, starting from your very first job through to the present day. Go as far back as you wish and include your studies, any work placements, internships or voluntary positions.

Reflect on each role, taking the time to consider the positive and negative aspects of each job and the reasons behind your past career decisions. Ask yourself: 

  • Why did you choose this career path or university major?
  • What specifically did you like or dislike about this position?
  • Which skills did you enjoy using and what were you naturally good at?
  • What aspects of the job, organisation or environment did you find challenging?
  • Why did you end up leaving this role — and what did you decide to do next?

This process helps you understand your unique strengths, skills and interests. Reflecting on my recruitment career, I noticed I enjoyed variety in my work — and that I had a passion for communication, connection and interacting with people. These aspects are now at the forefront of my coaching, speaking and training work!

When you look back on your past positions, you will identify the work you’re good at AND love to do.


Once you’ve taken the time to reflect on your childhood interests and past career, the next step is to take action.

Endless research and Google searches will not uncover your passions. You need to experiment and actively explore different career paths to discover where your true interests lie.

Using the insights gathered so far, find practical ways to test out your strengths, skills and interests. Because when you take aligned action, your passions become clear.


The most valuable step I took prior to my career transition was conducting informational interviews with people doing work (or elements of work) which interested me. Here’s how to do this…

First, think about the people you know in a job which fascinates you, a business model you find appealing, or an industry of interest. Look within your immediate circle, then your wider network (friends of friends). You can also consider industry experts or thought leaders you’re not directly connected to.

Second, reach out to these individuals and explain why you’re interested in the work they do. Ask if they’d be willing to have a short conversation to share some insights about their career. People LOVE talking about themselves — and are always happy to help!

During the conversation, get each person to walk you through a typical day in their role. Find out what they love about their job — and the challenges. Understand their career path: how they got into this line of work, how their career has progressed and what the future opportunities are.

Third, ask who else they’d suggest you speak to, or if they have any additional resources to recommend. Find out what you can do for them in return. For example, by introducing a new contact or referring a potential client.

Finally, remember this is not a job interview. Don’t make the conversation about you, your career and potential job opportunities. Be very clear you’re not looking for a job. If the conversation steers into interview territory or becomes about you, bring it back to the person in front of you.

When you do your due diligence, you will find your passions — and minimise risk with your next move!


The next step is to test out new skills of interest. Offer to take on new responsibilities at work, shadow someone or volunteer. Look into short-term courses, workshops or formal, longer-term study.

When I was figuring out what to do next in my career, I volunteered, started a post-graduate degree and tried out new skills including speaking, facilitation and coaching. At every step, I paid attention to what resonated and kept moving in this direction. Coaching immediate felt like a fit, so I continued to explore it as my preferred career path.

Here’s the bottom line. When you find practical ways to explore your interests, you will discover the work you’re passionate about!


As soon as you begin to explore new possibilities or make a change, fears will surface. Fear is designed to protect you and keep you safe — but it also holds you back from going after what you want.

Fear is the reason you settled for a ‘safe’ job and forgot all about your childhood dream. Your passion. What you wanted to be when you grew up.

If fear rears its ugly head, stay aligned to your passion. When you keep taking consistent action, despite these fears — you will create the career you want.

These tips helped me discover ‘what I wanted to be when I grew up’. And they’ve assisted many of my clients to find their passion and identify what they want next in their careers. I hope they support you too.

Would you like my support to find your passion and what you want next in your career?

Click HERE to book a free 30 minute consult and find out how coaching with me can help you!

Stacey Back is a globally recognised and certified career coach, speaker and facilitator. She helps high-achievers at a career crossroads find the work that lights them up, increase their income, impact and create a career + life on their terms. Stacey works virtually with individuals and organisations based across the globe.