Your Ideal Career Ain’t What It Used to Be

Our job in this lifetime is not to shape ourselves into some ideal we imagine we ought to be, but to find out who we already are and become it.

~ Steven Pressfield ~

You’ve probably heard it before. You’ve probably heard successful people say, “If you want to learn how to live life as it was meant to be lived, hang out with a five-year old.”

You might briefly nod your head in agreement before getting back to the business of “adulting.” Being an adult means being serious, being responsible, and getting real about making a living. Your “adulting” self thinks your ideal job isn’t practical. It won’t pay the bills. You can’t make money as an artist, dancer, or beachcomber.

Maybe that was true once. Not so long ago, an ideal career meant finding a job with security and longevity that paid well.

But now? All bets are off. These days, your ideal career ain’t what it used to be.

When you ask kids why they think it would be cool to be a fireman, ballerina, or airline pilot, you might get answers like these:

  • I wanna drive a big, red truck
  • I love pink tutus
  • I wanna fly like a bird

Adults think it’s cute when kids say what they want to be when they grow up. But we should pay better attention. Beneath the words, there is an experience each kid wants to have.

The future fireman might want to experience excitement. The budding ballerina might want to experience feeling beautiful or graceful. The emerging airline pilot might desire to experience freedom.

Youngsters may not be able to define the experience that would fulfill them as adults. But the seeds are already there in what they say they want to become.

If you love your job, you may already understand the connection between who you wanted to be when you grew up and your current profession. If so, you are one of the lucky few who got to follow your heart and become who you wanted to be.

On the other hand, maybe you didn’t choose a career experience that aligns with what your five-year-old self wanted. Maybe “adulting” took over and you became who your parents, culture, or gender expected you to be.

You may have found other ways to satisfy that experience, perhaps through a hobby or pastime you enjoy in your free time. You may have considered turning your pastime or hobby into a business one day.

But what if you don’t love your job and you don’t have a fulfilling hobby or pastime? What if you are ready to make a career change and you feel stuck about what direction to take?

A great place to start is by thinking back to your five-year old self. Stop “adulting” for a few minutes and pretend you are still that five-year old. Think about what you loved to do. What were your favorite activities? How did you feel while you were doing them?

You might have to do some internal excavation to get in touch with that five-year old. But once you uncover the experience you want to create, you can look for ways to tie in your current talents and skills. The sweet spot is where your talents and skills intersect with the experience you want to have.

Your ideal career may turn out to be something completely out of the box from anything you have done in the past. It may be out of the box from anything anyone else is doing.

Perfect! Let the creativity of your five-year old self help you play with ways to make a career of it.

That may leave you feeling like you are on shaky ground. But if you stay curious, you’ll discover a direction that takes you, step by “sexy” step, down the right road to a fun and fulfilling career.

And you’ll be happy that your ideal career ain’t what it used to be.

Did you grow up to be who you wanted to be when you were a kid? How did you know what you wanted to do? Share in the comments. If you are at a life stage where you are ready to look at options for creating your ideal career, schedule your complimentary consultation with me and let’s explore together!