Make Your Dream Career A Reality
When I was in high school, art was my thing. I was really good, but not great, and no other subject appealed to me all that much. So when I went off to college, pursuing something artistic made sense. I didn’t think I could be a working artist (like a painter or a sculptor), but I figured there was some way I could get a job doing something art-related. First I thought I’d study to be an art teacher, but eventually I shifted majors again so that I could become a graphic designer.
Again, I was not great, but passable, and worked at a few newspapers designing advertisements as I finished up college and then for a while after I graduated. A full time job in graphic design was never in the cards for me, and a few short months after being handed my diploma, two planes crashed into the Twin Towers. After that, I decided to give up on finding a “real” job and travel for a while, instead.
A dream doesn't become reality through magic; it takes sweat, determination and hard work. - Colin Powell
I worked here and there, doing this and that, and certainly got to see much of the U.S., which was a wonderful gift. After a handful of years, though, I was ready to land in one spot and pursue something that really appealed to me. But what was that? And how was I going to find it?
11 years later, it’s tempting to say it was easy to decide on a dream career (I’m a writer, teacher, and mentor who shows women how to make peace with food, and I love it), but it was anything but easy. Over the years I worked at an inn, an airport, a non-profit, a company tied to the pharmaceutical industry, and a department store.
Along the way I also got certified as a life coach, a personal trainer, and an intuitive eating counselor. I went back to school and got a master’s degree in Health Education, too. Putting the pieces together, sifting through what I enjoyed and what I didn’t enjoy, and finding one dream career just for me took a long time. But I did it. Let me tell you exactly how, so you can do the same thing.
1. Try the 10 & 10 Exercise
I used to do this all the time when I was trying to figure out what I wanted to do with my life. This exercise will allow you to drop all of your negative beliefs about what you are and aren’t capable of, and get you dreaming big. Get a piece of paper and number it 1 through 10 on both the front and back. On the front side of the paper, write “lottery.” Now answer this question: If you won 500 million dollars in the lottery, what would you do? Important: write down the first ten things that come to mind, do not censor yourself.
Now flip the paper over. On the top write “dying.” Now answer this question: If you had one year to live, but would be in perfect health up until the day you died, what would you do? Again, write down the first ten things you think of and do not censor yourself. Now go back and compare the lists. Look for themes and look for consistency.
Did “show people how to be the best darn salesperson on earth” show up on both lists? Did “learn to hang glide” show up both places? Use these answers as a starting point to discovering your dream career.
2. Answer this Very Important Question
Yup, more questions (this whole discovering your dream career thing is just chock-full of ‘em!). Ask yourself “what would I do if I was not afraid?” Write down every single thing you can think of. Do not judge or censor yourself. Again, look over the list, and check for clues about what your true heart’s desire may be.
3. Suspend Your Limiting Beliefs
Do you know why it’s so hard to make life changes, especially when it comes to careers? Because we all have a pretty hardcore set of beliefs about what is and isn’t possible, and what we are and aren’t capable of.
Even if you have figured out what you really, truly want to do, your deep-seated beliefs are probably popping up all over the place and yelling things like, “you can’t do that!” or “you’ll never make any money that way” or “your parents will be so disappointed!” To get to your dream career (unless it’s super traditional and easily attainable), you’re going to have to get out of your own way.
4. Look for Examples of Others Who Have Succeeded
One great way to start forming new beliefs about what’s possible is to look around for examples of people who have succeeded in doing the same thing you dream about. The internet is full of examples of those who run successful businesses from home, became doctors at the age when most people are retiring, or got a fantastic gig traveling around the world for pay.
5. Visualize It
Once you’re really clear on what you want and are starting to believe it’s possible for you, try visualizing it. You can either close your eyes and imagine what having this dream career would be like (what your day would be like, how it would feel to be completely fulfilled, how it would feel to get paid to do something you love), or you can create a vision board. I’m sure you’ve heard of these before, and they can be a great way to stay focused on your goals.
You can go to Pinterest and create a board that’s made up of images of your dream career or what life would be like with your dream career, or create a collage and save it as your desktop photo (that’s what I do to this day!). Look at your vision board often, holding a positive vision of making it come true.
6. Write It Down
If you’re not feeling artistic, write down your goals. Make them specific and measurable, make sure you write down when you’ll achieve them by, and make sure they’re in small enough chunks that you don’t feel incredibly overwhelmed when you look at them. Update them frequently, and check them off when you achieve them!
7. Try It First
Even if you think you know exactly what you want to do, you’ll never know for sure unless you try it. See if you can volunteer at the local animal hospital if you think you’d like being a vet.
Try pitching a few articles to websites if you think you want to be a writer. Take a few dance classes if you think that’s what’s calling you. If it turns out it’s not the right fit, no harm, no foul, just keep digging.
8. Find a Support Network
Once you do decide to embark upon something new and different, you’re going to need lots of people on your side. Find a Facebook group filled with like-minded people (or people making a similar career transition), join local entrepreneurial groups, and/or surround yourself with friends who believe in you.
9. Take the Leap
Well, this is it. If you want to have and live your dream career, you have to actually do it. Good luck!
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