When I was about 8 or 9, I remember my Aunty asking me what I wanted to be when I was older. My response was ‘either a clown in a circus or a lawyer’. To me, they both seemed like good options.
My desire to be a circus clown didn’t last long but wanting to be a lawyer did for a bit longer time. As I went into my teens, I watched LA Law avidly and thought that being a barrister looked pretty cool. Then I wanted to be a writer and flirted with the idea of journalism. For a while, I wanted to teach English and Drama. Eventually, I joined the Royal Air Force. Not really a natural progression there. The truth was I never really had a dreamof how my future would look. I didn’t really know what I wanted to do, and I felt hamstrung by having no burning desire to do one thing.
I look at people that have had a childhood dream and I envy that clarity of knowing what they want to do. But for most people, occupations are often things that we end up doing. That doesn’t mean you don’t love what you do, but it’s rarer to hear someone say that they are doing something that they always dreamed of than it is to hear someone say that they sort of fell into something.
We’re lucky, our generations, because we live in a world where one career is no longer considered the norm. Finishing one career and retraining for a second is a viable option for many. A second career can often be a more considered option and relate to things that we have learnt along the way. I see many of my friends and family retraining for second careers in caring professions, sometimes as a direct result of personal experiences of using such a profession. For others, a second career represents an opportunity to exercise strengths that they didn’t realise they even had when they were making career choices at 18 or 21 or 25.
But all too often, I meet with clients that have recently realised that they are in a job or career that they fell into and they have no idea how they got there or why they are still in it. They would like to leave to do something different, that inspires and energises them, that fills them with passion. But they have no idea what that is. And without that clarity of a dream, the idea of leaving a career where they are known, where the money is satisfactory or good or great, where there is stability and the job is a known quantity, is simply something that is too great a step to make.
When days like Make Your Dreams Come True Day come up (honestly, this is a real thing, on 13 January!), many people can feel like this just doesn’t apply to them in a career-sense. That doing something passionate