As children, most of us were asked what we wanted to be when we grew up. Now we are grown up – at least in the literal sense. It can leave us with the feeling that it is ‘too late’ to pursue that childhood dream, even when we still have our lives ahead of us. Of course, this isn’t the case at all – but how do we actually go about achieving them?
Is it still your dream?
I’m going to kick us off with an idea that might seem antithetical to this blog. Let go of the dreams that no longer serve you. Quite simply, if you don’t want to pursue sport or medicine or theatre anymore, make space for what matters now. There are hundreds of books and films and musicals about never giving up! and following your dreams! In reality, it’s normal for your goals to shift over time. What’s important is that you do what feels right for you. Sometimes that means deviating from what you originally had planned.
Expand your horizons
As children, our world views are limited. We don’t immediately recognise the career options beyond doctor, firefighter, or celebrity footballer. As adults, we might pursue something tangential to these original ambitions. For example, if your childhood dream was to be an athlete, you might go on to take an interest in coaching or sports therapy.
Of course, if you still want to be an athlete then go for it! But don’t let an ‘all or nothing’ mentality obscure the alternatives. Very few of us have the careers we dreamt of when we were kids. This isn’t because we failed or gave up; it’s because we thought more broadly more about ourselves, our interests, and what we can offer the world.
Look for the underlying theme in what motivates you. Have a go at brainstorming the roles and organisations that relate to these themes. You might find our Get Started: Career options guide useful.
Drop the ‘now or never’ mindset
For previous generations, working in the same sector or even the same job for life was the norm. The pace of change was much slower, which meant more certainty and stability, and less room for opportunity. Nowadays, people are making career changes throughout their working lives. Not only can we move up the career ladder if we wish, but we can also move across job roles to gain new skills and experiences.
We’ve all seen those online listicles about celebrities who started writing/acting/singing later in life. And while it’s fair to say these are exceptional cases, there’s no reason we shouldn’t be inspired by them. Is it really ‘too late’ to do what you love? Or do we put too much pressure on young people to ‘make it’ (whatever that means)?
Whether this move is achievable will depend, to some extent, on the skills and qualifications you need to make your career pivot. If you are a current student, this is a good time to think about the next steps needed to realise your dream. If you’re a graduate, you might want to note down the transferable skills you have gained from employment, and consider how you can apply them to your next job. Check out this video on pivoting and changing career direction.
So where do you stand with your dream currently? Is it waiting in the wings while you build your skill set? Is it a hobby that helps you unwind? Is it something you could pursue by volunteering, perhaps, to get a foot in the door? All these things are okay. If you’re engaging with your dream, one way or another, you are still following it. And if it makes you happy, keep going!