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GUEST POST: The Encouraging Mentor #4 - Five Things to Have, Do, Help, and Be


Five Things to Have, Do, Help, and Be: A Personal Futuring Exercise

At a very early age, most people are asked, “What do you want to be when you grow up?” We often prompt young minds with examples: “Do you want to be a firefighter? A teacher? A farmer?”

But what if there is a more important question: “Who do you want to become?” This is qualitatively different. This is perhaps the best question to ask to prompt future thinking, focus, and goal-setting.

In this blog series, I’m attempting to both challenge your thinking, but also encourage your progress. You may consider the question prompt in this post alone, or in conversation with a friend or mentor.

Let’s jump into this one. Read over the chart below. Then fill in each box with some ideas.

(Note: The act of writing can help you reflect. I suggest you take a sheet of paper, divide it into quadrants, jot down the titles, and then begin filling in the boxes with your thoughts.)

What are five things you want…

…to have: (These can be tangible or intangible.)

…to do: (This is about what you might do: jobs, careers, things for fun, bucket list items, etc.)

…to help: (These can be big and small. Think broadly.)

…to be: (Not what you might do, but who you might become.)

Now, look at your responses. Will the things you want to do move you in the direction of things you want to have and to help? If not, add some actions to the to-do list, then prioritize. But remember, you cannot do everything. A prioritization strategy is to put some broad target dates next to your to-do items (e.g., within five years).

Here’s a challenge activity: The “to be” category will reflect how people remember you, now or when you’re gone. Consider two action items that will help you accomplish who you want to be and how you want to be remembered. These may be short or long-term actions. Jot these down.



I often assign homework to my students at Ohio State. For this exercise, carry your paper around, think, reflect, and update it over the next few weeks. You might discuss insights with your mentor, a trusted friend, or a family member.

Dr. Brian Raison

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