Most adults ask kids the same seemingly harmless question I was asked as a kid, “What do you want to be when you grow up?” I, like many, would say astronaut, doctor, lawyer, or professional basketball player. The interesting thing about the question is that, by definition, you can never get to an answer that puts you in control of your lifestyle. The question itself is backwards because it starts with the beginning in mind instead of with the end in mind. This traditional type of question creates a Settle For Formula. Here’s what I mean.

Using the simple math of A + B = C as a guide, let’s examine the question. Stay with me here. If I ask a child, “What do you want to be when you grow up?” the child will most likely answer similarly to how I answered: astronaut, doctor, lawyer, professional athlete, artist, musician, and so on.

So, in our math equation, A is the profession a person wants to pursue. B is the skill, knowledge, abilities, activities, and preparation someone must have to achieve and then excel at A. So, now we have A + B.

C, however, is the result that A + B gives you. In the Settle For Formula, you don’t control C. You settle for C, the outcome of A + B. For example, if I want to become a school teacher and I get the degrees and certifications required, then I will get paid an average of $38,617 in the United States starting out.

A = school teacher; B = skills, talents, college degrees, certifications, etc.; and C = $38,617. School teachers don’t negotiate their own salaries; they simply get paid what the system gives them. If a teacher wants to make more money within the education system, he or she has to do something extra, like invest in more education, degrees, certifications…, become a coach, teach summer school, or become quit teaching and become an administrator.

This is the danger of asking, “What do you want to do when you grow up.” In the traditional system, you may be able to influence C, but you are not in control of C.

Now let’s examine what happens if we change the question to, “How do you want to live when you grow up?” This simple difference, changes everything!!!

The equation is similar but significantly changed. By switching the equation, (without breaking any math rules) you can reverse the Settle For Formula to create the Success-Focused Formula of C = A + B.

By first asking about the result you would like to create, you choose and control what C you want and go from there.

In this new formula, C = the lifestyle you would like; A = a list of careers that can produce that lifestyle; and B = the activities, skills, knowledge, etc., that will help you become good enough at A to produce your C. In the

Success-Focused Formula, C is the primary focus, not a result that is out of your control.

If you want to live a lifestyle (C) that requires $10,000 per month ($120,000 annually), then you could never be a school teacher (A) simply because no matter how good you got (B) at teaching school, doing so pays only $38,617 starting out and $50,000 on average later in the profession and even the top 10% only make around $92,920. If you want a $10,000-per-month lifestyle (C), you have to choose a profession that can produce that result, such as that of a doctor (whose average earnings are $15,750 per month) or an attorney (whose average earnings are $11,654 per month). I could add accountant, professional athlete, famous musician or artist, or network marketer to my list of professions that could produce the $10,000 lifestyle you want.

You may not want to fully engage in any of the realistic choices (i.e., the various A options, or professions, that are the result of your chosen C). That is, you may not actually want to do what it takes to create the $10,000 lifestyle (C) within any of the realistic career options. The truth is that you will have to learn how to like (and then love) at least one of the choices if you want to create the lifestyle (C) you desire.

If you are not committed to doing the things, the A + B, that will create your dream lifestyle (C), then you will be settling for a standard of living that someone else chooses for you.

As you can see, what you do (A), and how well you do it (B), is not nearly as important as why you do it (C)! Get clear about your C, and the A will become obvious. Only then should you determine the specific actions (B) that need to be completed and repeated, making sure that they can be measured on a daily and weekly basis.