Sometimes I have clients tell me that although they are pursuing a job that is a continuation of their current career path, they secretly have always thought about landing a “dream” job that seems totally off-the-wall. You know, the kind of job or position that we all seem to start thinking about when we start daydreaming about our futures or when we find ourselves indulging in that common practice of thinking about a perfect world where we can have any job we want. During those times, many people will often think about a job or career that is very different from the career they are presently in. In some cases, it can be a job that is a total 180 degree change in direction of their career path.
What do you do about that “secret dream job”? Should you write it off entirely as dreaming and not take any steps to achieve it? Do you drop everything and throw all of your efforts into working into that dream position as unrealistic as it may seem? Let me make a suggestion. Don’t ignore those feelings…but don’t be ruled by them either. Take an approach I call “cautious dream pursuing”
So what is “cautious dream pursuing”? When you are committed to making a job change, identify a position that is the next logical step in your current career path. Then, also research your dream job or career. Write down the specific aspects of the dream job and learn what it would take to successfully land a job in your dream career. Also identify the skills and knowledge you need to continue to be successful in the dream career. Then spend the majority of your time and efforts pursuing the job that is the logical next step in your current career path. At the same time, do your “cautious dream pursuing” by committing 10-20% of your spare time to pursue your dream job. Conduct your research and learn about the dream job or career. Learn as much about it as you can. Then and only then will you fully understand if it is truly out of reach.
In this manner, you will be devoting the majority of your efforts toward a logical and likely outcome. You will also feel good about devoting some of your time toward making your dream job a reality. As you learn more about the dream job or career, you will gain a better understanding as to how tangible and realistic such an opportunity may be for you. If you discover that the dream job is within reach, start making small steps in your spare time to align yourself with the dream position.
This approach will keep your career moving forward. You want to avoid devoting all of your time and efforts into pursuing a dream job that you might never be able to achieve. You might also be pleasantly surprised that someday your dream job may be well within reach. You will get a psychological boost by knowing that you are taking steps–however small–toward pursuing your dream. Ignoring those secret desires altogether may lead to depression, frustration, and feeling like you are missing out on something. Without devoting at least a little bit of time to better understand the dream job you will never know what could have been.
Stay realistic but keep dreaming. Who knows, you might just end up in a position where you never thought you would be!