Are you ready?

I received an email recently from a new reader of my blog.

Dale was 47, and had been working as a successful sales rep for a software company. Dale was also miserable in his job. So he hired a coach to help him find his way. After some time, Dale and his coach discovered a dream from when he was younger, that of becoming a social worker so he could work as a college career counselor. His coach encouraged him to pursue this dream. Dale quit his job and went to school full time. Several years later, when he graduated, the economy had tanked, and there weren’t as many jobs available to Dale. And they all required some years of experience. At that moment, Dale’s wife was laid off, and suddenly, there were no income and no opportunities.

Now Dale is convinced that he should never have attempted to pursue his dream. Instead, he thinks he needs to “suck it up” and go back to being miserable at his sales job. He is certain that some people don’t get to live their dreams. Dale is now looking for a job, any job, just to make ends meet.

Dale is convinced that his is a cautionary tale, that unless you are independently wealthy, there comes a time when you are naïve and foolish to pursue your dreams.

Is Dale right? Are we to be forewarned?

While my heart aches for Dale and his story, I don’t believe so. I believe there are some choices Dale could have made along the way and his story would have had a happier ending.

Kathy provides a good example for us. Kathy dreamed of working as a museum curator, but for her that required more schooling.

So she chose to dig a bit deeper before deciding to go back to school. In Stage 1: Unearth, Kathy spent time looking not just for a label, but for the strengths and skills she wanted to use. What about being a curator really appealed to Kathy? What values did it fulfill? What strengths did she get to use? What got her juices flowing? She also asked herself if she really wanted to go back to school?

Then in Stage 2: Imagine, Kathy generated more options that would fulfill what she learned in Stage 1. Museum curator was one option, but perhaps doing visual merchandizing for retail or even working in art galleries would have been satisfying. Kathy identified a list of alternatives for herself, in addition to the “Museum Curator.” These jobs gave more options to Kathy, with equal fulfillment.

Also, Kathy spent some time identifying the “other criteria” for her dream job: income needs, benefits, work environment, etc. Those other elements that make us happy or miserable in a job.

In Stage 3: Create, Kathy did some down and dirty research. What is the job market like for each position she was interested in? Where are the jobs? What do they pay? Kathy conducted informational interviews with people who worked in the jobs she identified, to find out some of these answers.

Kathy also gave consideration to her financial situation, to decide if going to school would provide the financial payoff she needed. Part of Stage 3 is doing the math. In the end, Kathy opted to not go back to school, and chose to pursue a job at a local art gallery. Kathy is now happily employed, and loves her work.

Kathy also had developed an alternate plan, which would have allowed her to pursue the Museum Curator path. She would have gone to school at night to pursue her degree. She would have volunteered on the weekends to build some experience and build her network to prepare for when she did graduate. She would have continued working until landing a job in a museum.

I know that you can absolutely have the career you dream of, without all the pain that Dale suffered. I also know that Dale still can have his dream job, he just has more obstacles in his way right now. But every one of them can be overcome, if he wants it.

What is your next step in pursuing the career of your dreams? Declare it now by sharing it on my blog (below).

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Client Stories

 I was looking to make large changes in my life, both job and city.  I was a happy midwestern resident for nearly 30 years but wanted to see what life on a coast was like and get a dream job.  This was a tall order and going into it I thought I would have to make large compromises on parts of my dreams to get any of it.  

I went to Lori to help me achieve these dreams.  It was the best decision I made.

She focused on two things right out of the gate:
  1. clarify my goals, both personal and professional
  2. get me to stop selling myself short

These twin achievements allowed me to approach my hunt with confidence, patience and focus.  My original dream job was to try and combine my technical joys with a personal one.  I enjoy large scale data processing with cutting edge tools, music and baseball.  Through the tools Lori taught me and helped me unearth in myself I got that gig that would have fallen into day dream territory before our work together.  

And yeah, there's platinum records on the walls of my lobby and I have tons of data to process.

Pat Christopher, Intelligence Engineer, Seattle, WA