As promised in Dreaming the Dream – Part I, we are going to subject career dreams to a reality check this week in hopes of facilitating the career journey. Let’s start with some questions:
- Does your career dream belong to you or someone else?
- Are you following a family tradition?
- Have you chosen your dream only because you believe it to be lucrative?
- Are you following what you believe to be the glamorous route?
- Do you have the raw skills and talent to achieve your dream?
All too often, others’ dreams for our future become our own. Parents usually want what they believe is best for their children; therefore, they sometime project their own aspirations onto their children with good intentions. Yet, what they believe to be best might not have anything to do with reality.
Maybe mom and dad always dreamed of having a doctor or lawyer in the family. Or, perhaps they want to pass on the family business, and it is expected that their offspring will willingly step into the role. However, the fact remains that, to achieve happiness and success, you follow a dream that is genuinely yours. Most people are not happy following a plan laid out for them by others.
Family traditions are somewhat related to the above section, but with a slight twist. They are not expected by parents so much as they might feel like an honorable duty to their children. Thus, “carrying on the family tradition” is a task that some take on willingly.
Does your family have traditions? One that comes to mind is military service. Some families have had a representative in just about every war or branch of service. While it is a fine tradition, it is not for everyone.
You might want to explore family traditions carefully before pursuing them to make certain that you do not blindly follow a path where you do not fit. Certainly there are times for self sacrifice and honor. Is this the time? Are you the one to shoulder the tradition? If you are torn, is there something that fulfills your needs but is similar to the family tradition?
Following the Money
Most everyone wants to reach financial success. Yet, some of the routes to success are accompanied by long hours and frequent travel. One such route is that of the investment banker. You will “be the job,” and it will own you for the most part. Another such job is that of the consultant who often travels to client locations for work.
You need to examine the lifestyle that you desire in relation to your dream career. Do they fit together? If you want work/life balance, you might have to forego some compensation. Generally, the higher compensated jobs are the ones that will make the most demands on your time. Remember, money doesn’t always buy happiness.
Following the Glamour
There are certain careers that are glamorous and place one in the public eye–actor, singer, top fashion model, professional athlete, race car driver, etc. Fame and fortune usually go hand in hand. Yet, most of these jobs require a certain amount of raw talent, luck, industry ties or beauty. Very few will be the next Justin Bieber, Oprah Winfrey, Dale Earnhardt Jr., Will Smith, Miranda Kerr, Robert Pattison, Michael Jordan, Megan Fox, Zac Effron, or Kristen Stewart. The lucky ones probably already know that they have what it takes and are well on the path to achievement. If you choose to pursue a dream such as this, you may want to have a back up plan just in case it doesn’t work out.
Not all of us possess what it takes to follow some career dreams. A person of small stature is probably not going to be an NFL linebacker or NBA basketball star. A person who cannot carry a tune in a bucket most likely will not find fame as a recording artist. A person who hates balancing the checkbook probably should not pursue a career in accountancy. A person who failed every biology and chemistry class taken probably should not pursue a career in the sciences.
So many areas in life can be distilled back into one very important aspect–self awareness. Be honest with yourself. Some dreams are better left as dreams unless you have the right stuff. Don’t take on the hopes and aspirations of others as your own. Know yourself. Know your skills. Know what really captures your interest. The best career choices find a match between skills/interests and job requirements.
Finally, use your college’s career office! They can help you. Career coaches are trained in assessments and can provide objective advice that can help put you on the road to a career dream that you can call your own. The earlier you seek assistance, the more quickly you can put your feet on the right road ahead.