Posted by: deltadallas | February 3, 2011

Career Path: Dream or Delusion?

The recession threw a lot of people into a tailspin. Thousands of people were laid off in 2008-9 and many were launched into the job market for the first time in years. I have acquaintances of all ages that went through this, and by far the winners were the ones who grieved quickly and considered their let-down to be an opportunity. A few of my friends viewed their unemployment as a chance to re-assess or recapture their dreams. As I have watched this group of friends re-organize their aspirations, I have begun to wonder what sets each of us on the career path that we are on.

When you were in high school, what were your aspirations? How did those aspirations work out for you? Don’t feel bad. Most of us had grand ideas of being the next brilliant attorney, Wall Street tycoon, epic filmmaker, etc. Some of us achieved our dreams, minus the greatness we were hoping for, and some of us let go of our dreams all-together.

It’s okay to change your mind.
It’s normal for people to derive some kind of identity from what they think they will become. If you are on your way to being the next real-estate mogul in your metropolitan area, you have to see yourself that way and it inevitably becomes part of who you are as you climb your way to the top. But what happens if the dream falls apart, or if it doesn’t end up being what you thought it would be? There is no need to suffer an identity crisis! 

Some people switch gears for financial reasons. I know a woman who was a phenomenal teacher. She loved to teach, and even now, you can see that she would be a hit with children. She is thorough, personable, and passionate. However, she is no longer a teacher. Teaching could not provide the financial future that she was looking for, so she eventually went into business. Today, she is a successful, brilliant salesperson.

If you have realized that your dream was an illusion, or if you have failed to meet the grandiose expectations of your youth, now is not the time to stop. Now is the time to dream a new dream, and like my friend in sales, create a new career path.  

The Freedom of Failure
So what happens if spectacular failure is the catalyst for your new career search? Disappointment is normal, but this is just the time to consider yourself in the market for a new direction. Some of the most successful people in history had significant failures before they achieved success.  

Walt Disney is a great example. Most of us know Walt for his creative brilliance both as a businessman and in an artistic sense. Walt Disney’s path though was not smooth. At one point, Walt Disney was fired by a newspaper editor because, “he lacked imagination and had no good ideas.” Oh, but it gets better! Disney had a myriad of businesses fail before he hit pay dirt. Today, Walt Disney sets the standard for creativity and financial success. How did he do it? He didn’t settle for mediocrity, and he kept at it until he found the life formula that worked for him.

What formula will work for you? I can’t tell you, but there are a few things to consider when you are carving out a new path for yourself:

*What would make you love what you do?
*What are your strengths? What career best fits your strengths as a person/professional?
*Don’t listen to naysayers, only engage candid advisors.
*Find people who have your dream job and ask them how they got it.
*If you need additional education get it.
*Journal – Keep track of your path to success and make adjustments when you need to.

There is no shame in changing direction. There is only shame in giving up or living without passion.

Tabitha Woods is Marketing Coordinator for Delta Dallas. Reach her at twoods@deltadallas.com.

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