I Don’t Know What I Want to Be When I Grow Up

{photo by The Inspiring Bee}

If you found yourself revisiting this question as a grown up, you know how frustrating the process of self-discovery can be. Perhaps, you took the first job you got after college or you simply fell into the career you have now. But it doesn’t fulfill you anymore. It pays the bills, but doesn’t make your heart soar.

If you find yourself asking, “Is that all there is?”, don’t despair. No matter how old you are, you always have a second chance to grow up again.

Speaking from someone who’s had over ten jobs in the last ten years, I don’t only know it’s possible, I’ve lived it.

The problem is most people are too scared to venture out into the unknown. We develop a false sense of control, and a weak web of security. But it’s enough to keep us away from the edge. Much better to live a safe life than to risk BIG.

At the same time, we drool over full-time bloggers, successful authors and entrepreneurs. “Lucky,” we think, never believing we can do it too. Yet, it’s only our minds that limit us and our ego that keeps us from venturing out of our shells.

The Truth About Taking a Leap

It is scary and it can feel risky and dangerous. But if anyone ever told you that staying where you are is safer than taking a risk, they’re mistaken. It’s NOT moving and resisting change that’s most risky. This is especially true right now when employers are looking for people who have multiple experiences and can juggle and manage a lot of different things.

Here’s what I know.

If we have just this one life and we were all born with a purpose, then not following the voice that tells us “this isn’t what I should be doing,” not only hurts us, but it hurts the world.

In all the years I’ve been exploring my life purpose, I’ve realized that I already knew what it was all along. I didn’t need career tests, books or webinars to tell it to me. All I needed to do was revisit my childhood, listen to my inner voice and trust in that. I’ve spent more than a decade trying to find my dream job and ended up doing what I wanted to do as a kid-write.

I spent my free time as a child creating a portfolio filled with mock ups of commercials, ad campaigns, and copy for faux products. I watched Bewitched on TV and Full House and wanted to work for an ad agency like Darrin Stevens and Jesse and Joey respectively. In high school, I did a project researching copywriting because it’s something I wanted to do.

And then college came and I heard things like: “You need to get a job that makes money. There’s not much jobs like those here.” I got confused and got lost in the tediousness of accounting and marketing classes and gave up. I did end up graduating with a BA in English. But I let go of my dream of being a copywriter. It seemed too hard and an impossible endeavor.

After graduation, my career went on a crazy course from research assistant to private investigator. It gave me good fodder to write about. But it also took me that much longer to finally recover and find the destination of my childhood dreams.

So I say to you now, the you who has been unhappy with your current job, the you who knows you deserve something more, although finding your dream job is worth the wait, you don’t have to wait to find it.

  • Think about what you loved to do when you were young.
  • Revisit the past-times you couldn’t live without.
  • Recall the jobs you dreamed about doing when you were a kid.

Follow the crumb left by your childhood self and you’ll eventually get there. Your adult self will finally catch up to your little kid.

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Signs You’re Not Living Your Purpose

I know someone who’s been doing the same job for almost 20 years, but recently told me he’s never felt like he was on the right track.

Hopefully, that’s not you.

Hopefully, you don’t have to spend two decades walking in one direction before you stop to realize that you have been on the wrong one.

Here are a few signs taken from the Callings talk I went to a few weeks ago. {Yep, I’m still reaping benefit from that event.}

Signs You’re On the Wrong Path

1. You spend much of your days thinking, planning and studying about your dreams.

That sounds like a good thing right? All that preparation means you’re going somewhere.

In reality, you could be stalling. If you find yourself signing up for webinars, classes, booking consultants and experts to help you, you may be unconsciously keeping yourself busy so you don’t have time to take action and start pursuing your dreams. You may be waiting for the perfect moment to do A, B, or C. But there really is no perfect time.


2. You choose a path that’s parallel to the one you’re called towards.

You’re an editor, for example, who really wants to write for a living. Or you work in a bookstore instead of writing a book. You may be a seamstress who dreams of being a fashion designer. Or an art buyer rather than an artist. Think about what you do for a living. Could you be slightly off track? Are you in a job where you are watching those you want to be like succeed while safely standing out of the limelight?


3. You’re a workaholic.

People who spend all of their waking hours working or worried about work may be doing so because it feels safer than thinking about what they really want to do in life, but aren’t doing. Being a workaholic is a great distraction, a way to keep yourself busy that you don’t have time to pay attention to what really needs your attention.This could be your kids. This could be the book you’ve always wanted to write.

If any of these sounds like you, take heart.

There are a few things you can do:

  • Start easy. If you’re thinking of starting a business or trying out a new creative venture, start by surrounding yourself with positive, supportive people. Begin with easy customers, not tough ones. This means you shouldn’t ask your cynical uncle what he thinks about your plans to open up a new craft business or your pessimistic pal about your latest design idea. Find people who are optimistic and supportive. You will need them especially to have the courage to go through the long haul to get to your dreams.
  • Take small steps. Because the road to following your calling feels so scary, it’s important to take small steps so you don’t overwhelm yourself at the beginning. Just quitting that day job or calling potential clients can be enough to make you want to give up. So start small. Make weekly, monthly even daily goals for yourself that look like this: 1) create a list of potential clients to contact 2) buy file folders and a new notebook to keep track of all of your expenses and potential projects/ideas 3) set up a website 4) contact 1 customer/client.
  • Form a community to help you. No one becomes successful by doing things on their own. You can hire a designer to help you design your web page or find a mentor to give you advice and encouragement to follow your path. Ask your relative who is an entrepreneur how they got started. Or contact a Twitter or Facebook friend and ask if they can give you some tips.

Do you have any tips or words of wisdom that helped you go from dreaming to living your dream career? Did this post resonate with you? Are you living a life parallel to your dreams? Share your thoughts below.

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