HOW TO: Live your childhood dream today
Mr. Mayer: You should have been a lawyer, Miss March.
Jo March: I should have been a great many things, Mr. Mayer.
I always loved this quote from the 1994 film of Little Women. Jo is working as a governess by day, and writing her novels and stories by night. After a short debate about the women's vote, her skills in logic and argument make her friend suggest she could have been a lawyer.
But alas – in Civil War-era America, women barely finished school let alone entered the bar.
When I grow up...
We all had childhood dreams – our dream jobs when we were five, six, 12 and 20. You’ve got your common ones – actress, fireman, doctor, pilot, president, teacher, dancer. And then some special, road-less-travelled ones.
Anyone who’s heard me speak about my career knows that when I was a kid I always wanted to be a florist. I loved flowers, gardens, blossoms and blooms. But somewhere between Year 2 and university degree selections, that dream job went out the window (probably had something to do with my dislike of slugs...). I studied Media and Communications, I worked in Advertising, Marketing, Consumer Goods, Banking, Insurance, Government, and now in Change Management. Not a flower in sight.
Dabble a little
But guess what. I don’t have to be a florist to do what a florist does.
Last year, I took a 2 hour floristry workshop and learned how to make a hand-tied bouquet. With spring in full flight, I’m planning to go to a vase arrangement class. And just 2 weeks ago, my very first trailing bouquet of silk flowers debuted at the wedding of a friend. This time I taught myself... via Youtube University!
I’m not a florist. But I can do what a florist does.
As a Career Change Coach, I constantly hear people say how much they want to do a different career or calling – massage therapist, entrepreneur, music producer, share trader, app developer, park ranger, human rights lawyer - whatever it is. And then they do nothing to start making the move.
Well – the grass always looks greener on the other side. Yes, those things look great from where you’re perched in your current job – but try doing that new career day in / day out and if you don’t truly love it, you’ll wish you'd never switched! So maybe we can just walk before we run, eh?
Here’s 3 tips to help you get back on track to your childhood dream... or on track to any dream job for that matter!
1. Connect to the values of the job, not the job itself
Think back on your childhood dream job. What did you like about the identity of that role? If it was a fireman or a doctor – was it helping people? If it was a pilot – was it exploration and discovery. If it was an actress – was it being in the limelight? There are ways of showing up as that identity, or fulfilling those needs, in the role you're currently in, or in hobbies and skills you could learn.
Fireman/Doctor: Do more to help people in your workplace
Pilot: Take up hiking or diving
Actress: Become a speaker in your industry
You'll get those needs met, relatively risk-free!
2. Keep learning
We live in an education age. There are so many short courses available, both online and in person. Things like Life with Paint, Class Bunny, General Assembly, Work-Shop, The Parramatta College are a few I have attended or presented at. Even universities and TAFEs offer some weekend, holiday, or shorter courses you can take out of interest rather than vocation. Not to mention all the coaches and webinar programs out there on the inter webs. Whatever job you want to do or skill you want to dabble in, there’s a way of testing and trialling it beforehand. Then, keep practising and see if it holds your attention. For me – I need to keep being challenged. The first time I went caving, I loved it! The second time – the challenge was gone. I didn’t go a third. I’ve now made several hand-tied bouquets... it’s time for vase arrangements!
3. Do both for a while
The Barefoot Investor calls this the Trapeze Strategy. If you’re changing careers or starting a business, keep hold of your current role and use your personal time to build yourself in your new career / business until it's sustainably profitable. Only then do you let go of your regular paycheque. We live in a world of portfolio careers, of side hustles, of slashies. Yes, it takes effort, energy and time to work several jobs, but again you’ll see if you really have the sticking power to work full time in your new gig into the future, or if it's just a shiny object of your today.
Don't be Jo
Today, any one of us could be a great many things. You don’t have to wait until you’re older. And you don’t have to burn the bridges of your current life. Just take one step today.
Lata Hamilton is the founder of Passion Pioneers, a consultancy that helps staff find their feet and find their futures during restructures. Find out how we can help your next people change here.