Everyone loves asking little kids that question. Mainly because they say such interesting things – astronaut, professional football player, cowboy, ballerina, vet.
Of course, kids aren’t so bothered by the fact that they’ll one day need a job to “pay the bills” or care about making “sensible” choices.
They just want to do what makes them happy.
Me? I wanted to have my own business (I desperately wanted to wear a power suit with shoulder pads) and if that didn’t work out, I wanted to be a professional dancer.
I never thought I’d meander through more than 50 jobs by the time I was 30, most of which made me miserable.
So, what about you? What was your burning desire as a child?
Most people have a secret dream of what they want to be and do with their lives. Some are already living it – either as a career or as a hobby. Others are too scared to even articulate what they want.
How do you discover your dream job or your purpose in life?
Finding your ideal job or purpose is really obvious in hindsight. Usually because it’s been a dream for a long time, or it just fits so perfectly with your innate skills and talents. People who find their passion in life say that “Everything just came together”, or “All of my experiences in life has led me to this”.
Clues can be found in childhood:
My husband used to sell sweets (at an exorbitant profit) to kids at school. No wonder then that he’s now a sales dynamo. He also found a way to combine his mad passion for football with his brilliant skill in sales and marketing.
My favourite toy as a kid was the Olivetti electric typewriter I got for my 9th birthday. No wonder that I love writing (thanks mum!).
My friend Claire wanted to be an actress from a young age and now she’s finally moving to L.A to do it full time.
What if you have no idea, but you know for sure that you’re not doing it. “Anything but what I’m doing now” isn’t specific enough for the Universe to manifest the right opportunities, people and resources to help you along the way. Consider the following:
What do you love to do?
What have you always dreamt about doing with your life?
What do other people tell you that you’d be fantastic at?
What courses do you dream about taking?
If you didn’t have to worry about taking a pay cut, or what other people thought about it, what would you do?
Once you have an inkling of your passion, then start to take steps towards changing your career or living in your purpose.
This includes volunteering, shadowing someone in your chosen field, taking it on as a side hobby or completing a course to get new qualifications.
It doesn’t matter how young or old you are – time is going to pass by anyway. You might look at the length of time it would take to complete a completely new line of study, and think “6 years! What’s the point?!”.
Tell that to my friend Angela who is almost finished her part-time psychology course which she started on top of a completely different career. Ditto my friend Dave who did his part-time MBA. Time goes quickly.
Tell that to the fabulous Mirna, who became a reflexologist after working in a department store for years (and hating it), despite having no clue about how she was going to do it.
Making drastic changes can be scary – I get it, but it’s also liberating. Quitting a horrible job is awesome, applying for your dream job is a great step in the right direction, but you have to do something – otherwise you’ll stay exactly where you are now.
If you “can’t afford” to make the change, then start to plan how you could ease into a new career without completely derailing your life or cause yourself stress. Put aside a bit of money for your course, start changing your spending habits now to anticipate a drop in income or spare some time outside of your current job to move towards your dreams.
You might be working late nights and weekends for a while, but it will pay off eventually and you’ll enjoy it because it will be entirely for YOU.
Even just indulging in your passion as a hobby will make big changes in your life. Doing a night course in photography will spark your creativity, volunteering with animals will make up for never becoming a vet and going on a once in a lifetime holiday to a horse camp will probably satisfy that inner cowboy dream.
I’ll never be a professional dancer, but I just went back to dance school for tap, jazz and modern lessons and it reminds me that my passions are important.
What are you going to do to make a change in your life?
As you make the transition into your new life, you have to start seeing yourself in a new way before other people will.
It took me so long to tell people I was a life coach. I just didn’t believe it myself so how could I tell people that? It felt like a lie, even though I had done the training.
I started coaching people for free, so technically I was a life coach. I felt more comfortable about telling people what I did, and guess what? They believed me! Which made me believe it and all of a sudden I was attracting paid clients left, right and centre!
What you say becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. So, the next time someone asks what you do, just experiment….
I’m an actress
I own my own business
I’m a children’s book writer
I’m a photographer
I’m a graphic designer
Get your business cards made up, start a website or make a brochure. It will help you feel like it’s real.
If you feel uncomfortable telling people your dream, then get out there and get some experience! Everyone has to start somewhere. Most professions have an apprenticeship of sorts, so don’t be embarrassed if you have to start at the bottom. With passion and purpose fuelling you, you won’t be there long.
Don’t worry about doing work for free at the beginning. This is just to get your confidence up and to help you believe in yourself and your work.
So, I’ll ask you again:
What do you want to be when you grow up?
When you grow outside of your limitations, fears and self-doubts, when you grow out of needing other people’s approval, when you grow out of living up to the expectations of others. When you finally give yourself permission to dream and be happy.
I’d love to hear about how you’re making your dream a reality, one step at a time.
Love and luck,