It’s not uncommon to hear a young person say, “I want to be an [insert profession]”. The thing is, you have no control of what you are, you only have control over what you do.
There is no such thing as a writer, unless we mean someone who engages in the act of writing. There are people who write and people who don’t. There is no such thing as a creative person. There are people who create, and people who don’t.
It’s easy to imagine a category of being, such as, “artist”, “architect”, or, “entrepreneur”, and say that’s what you wish to be. But when you do, you’re really fooling yourself. You might imagine a lot of trappings that you assume go along with people in these fields. High profile entrepreneurs hobnob with big money, speak at conferences, wear trendy clothes, and get quoted in Forbes. You want those things. But those aren’t things you can be. They’re opportunities that arise after you have done the work of creating a successful venture.
Framing your goals in terms of do rather than be is perhaps a subtle semantic difference, but it has a profound effect on your subconscious and how you approach your goals. When the focus is on what you want to be, it’s too easy to surround yourself with the visible manifestations and ignore the product. How many wannabe writers spend more energy finding just the right coffee shop in just the right city with just the right friends, clothes, and attitude, than they do actually writing that novel? There’s nothing wrong with getting into surroundings conducive to creating, but don’t forget you still have to create.
Switching from be to do also reduces stress. Picking what you want to be is rather daunting. But focusing on what you want to do is easier. It can be a hodgepodge of various activities. Over time, as you continue to do the things you love and excel at, who you are can be defined in retrospect, based on your product. In fact, it can be more fun to leave the question of who or what you are unanswered. Do what makes you come alive, and let others decide what you are.
I don’t know what I am, but I build things, I write, I solve problems, I talk to people, and I try to encourage others to do what they love.