Finding Your Joy: Michelle Ward

Welcome Welcome!! Today we have a VERY special guest to talk about Finding Your Joy. Michelle Ward, the When I Grow Up Coach is here to talk about four easy ways to figure out what you wanna be when you grow up. How awesome is that? I'm a big fan of Michelle's, and her blog has helped me immensely in figuring out how to go after my creative career and take my dreams seriously. I do hope that when you're done reading her post here, you will go spend some time on her blog. She has some incredible resources and advice on creating a life you love!!

4 Easy Ways to Figure Out
What You Wanna Be When You Grow Up

Oh, the sweetness of exclaiming, “I’m gonna be a ___________ when I grow up!” – as long as the thought of what goes in that blank doesn’t have you drawing a blank! I know how super frustrating/ overwhelming/ terrifying/ upsetting it is when your passionate career is anyone’s guess, or when you think that it’s just not possible to find a career that you could be passionate at and make money from, because I felt that, too. I remember my Dad’s response when he came home from work and we asked how his day was. He always responded, “They call it work because it’s not play.” I always rejected that notion, even as a teenager who decided to go to college for musical theater (with my parent’s full support), and once I decided not to pursue acting as a career any more, the only question left to answer was, “Now what?!” Whether you’re in a career you thought would be a dream but the reality is more nightmarish, or if you “fell into” a career that makes you look around and remark, “How is this my life?!” (I’ve been there, done that, too!), there are a few things you can try to propel you back out of that ditch and onto the path to your passionate career. 

  • Set a timer and spend 2 minutes writing down what people thank you for. Then spend another 2 minutes writing down different things that you think anyone can do. No censoring allowed (don’t exclude the silly, the “stupid”, the things that aren’t career-related), and don’t let your pen leave the paper/fingers leave the keys! In the same vein, you can rifle through those old report cards/job reviews/thank you notes & emails you accumulated over the years to find those key descriptions that keep popping up. Either way, it’s about noticing the common threads. Do you get thanked a lot for your homemade cookies, and think baking is something anyone can do? Spoiler Alert! I’m a terrible baker, so own that skill and the fact that you’re super at it! Get all those key pieces on a new sheet of paper, and brainstorm how you can monetize that. Again, set a timer and don’t censor! And no, it’s not cheating if you head over to Google and do some research along the way.
  • Write a Dear Future Me letter by taking out a journal or a new Word doc, & write down the date, but in 2012. Start the letter "Dear Future MyNameHere," & write all of the things that happened to you that year – how you look, what you accomplished, where you're living, yada yada yada. The exercise is really to allow yourself to dream about a future that you've already created if you had the ability to create it. So, none of the "Is this really feasible?" or "How can I do this?" or "What would my college friends think?", please and thank you.
  • Indulge my hippie-dippie-ness and let yourself go through a 5 minute visualization of what YourNameHereLand looks like. Set a timer and put on your favorite dreamiest song, and let yourself drift to your own world – literally. In MichelleLand, people sing instead of speak and everyone wears two different socks and sneakers, like Punky Brewster, and I get to know everyone in MichelleLand personally and they’re all sweet and fun and caring and creative, and they all live their passionate careers without worrying about money or disappointing their doctor parents. It’s such a happy place to be! Once you got some particulars of YourNameHereLand – even if they’re broad strokes – is there a way to translate ‘em to The Real World? For me, I buy tickets to musicals, surround myself with the fun, the sweet, the caring, and the creative and help them live their passionate careers. It’s nice knowing there’s crossover there!
  • Think of what you’d do if you had nobody to answer to or disappoint. Don’t dwell on the fact that your friends and family are gone – I so don’t mean to bring the room down! But think - how would you wanna fill your days? What would you do? Would it be something that’s been a deep dark secret since you were little (like be a published writer!), or something you’re recently discovered you love but isn’t so mainstream/stable (like a pole dancing instructor!)? Once you own up to it (I know! It’s scary!), get out all the excuses as to why you can’t do it. Write ‘em all down. Done? OK, now burn it! Or tear it up into a million pieces! Or bury it in the backyard! Now, write a new list of how it can happen – all the big things, little things, scary things, exciting things that are in your head. Start with the smallest/funnest/easiest, and keep going from there.

And puh-lease, I’m The When I Grow Up Coach after all - use me for my resources! You can get a 7-exercise PDF download for free that’ll keep ya from pounding (your head against) the pavement when you subscribe to my newsletter, or you can cash in on the super secret VIP launch of my illustrated, rhyming (!!!) career change workbook that has all of my career change exercises and then some. Oh, and you can also sign up for my 3rd Annual Scholarship ‘til April 1st, and have the chance of winning 12 private sessions for $0. Seriously – I wouldn’t include this here unless I was sure it’d help!

See? No matter how “grown up” you are, it’s never too late to figure out what you wanna be when you grow up! Sure, ya gotta do some soul-searching, some experimenting, and even a hippie-dippie exercise or two, but how sweet is it gonna be to know what goes in that blank? (Answer: very sweet!)


Michelle Ward, aka The When I Grow Up Coach, helps creative people devise the career they think they can't have - or discover it to begin with! A certified life coach by the International Coach Academy & a musical theater actress with her BFA from NYU/Tisch, Michelle has served as an expert source and contributor for such outlets asNewsweek, Etsy, and Psychology Today, as well as leading workshops and seminars at SXSW 2011 and the sold-out Etsy Success Symposium. She encourages everyone to claim their uniquity via The Declaration of You, an e-course with Jessica Swift, and could be found coachin', bloggin' & givin' away free stuff at