Growing up, I had a sound grasp as to what I wanted to be when I grew up. Now, a few years later, I question if the eyes of my youth were simply naïve or if my adult vision has become tarnished by a cold reality. No matter the cause of this disconnect, I found it alarming that on average, only 35% of employees are happy with their current career or line of work (a recent survey conducted by the Career Thought Leaders Group).
To further explain why, several reasons of unhappiness were given, including bad (though not really sure what constitutes “bad”), bosses, time-delayed commutes where congestion ruled two-hours both ways, and lack of challenges. Naturally these are not the only issues as many of you can attest to.
As I delved into the topic deeply by conducting outside research on my own, one key point threading so much unhappiness was that people were not in the line of work they imagined they would be growing up. Sounds like a perfect lead into the topic defining part one…
Do you remember dreaming about what you wanted to be when you were older? For some it was a firefighter, an astronaut, a veterinarian, a teacher, or a bill collector (okay, maybe only a few dreamt of this job). Many of us remember these ideals as kids because we glorified them into something they really were not. So, here’s the next question: Why the gap between what we wanted and what we have become? True enough, we didn’t have all of the information back then and our priorities have also changed… having children have a way of shifting priorities… in a good way.
Still, two kids, three ex-wives, and a receding hairline later, many feel trapped within the snarls of career dissatisfaction. Perhaps now, as adults who know better, we should take the time to examine future career paths founded by truth and reality, where perceptions and expectations no longer play on different fields. And who knows, after examining objectively, the dissatisfaction ratio can be reversed.
An objective career reflection may uncover that fighting fires or flying around in space really is not that appealing… oh the dreams of a child… so innocent, so misplaced. Here’s some optimistic rhetoric for you: No matter your adult age, searching for and attaining that dream career can be yours. Yeah, I’ve heard the same story from people over and over: it’s too late to change, I’m trapped, I can’t… blah, blah, blah.
The truth is: Change and professional success can happen… but you have to be realistic, have a positive attitude, and do the work required. The first step (yes, there’s always a first step) is to research, reflect, and reboot; in other words, focus on the prize without relying upon how others define you. Being an adult infers great responsibility with the ability to filter out misinformation and external influencers.
On a personal note, when was a young pup, I wanted to be a marine biologist. Think about it, in a child’s eye every day I would visit the beach, swim with the dolphins, and save the ocean from evil corporate overlords. Then again and springing up to date, little did I know that this job required labor be spent mostly in a laboratory without the thrill of swimming with dolphins or lounging on sandy beaches. That’s what I dreamed of as a child… I doubt any career I enter now will come close. What about you, are you setting yourself up for career dissatisfaction?
Take a few minutes to reflect on your career path, then and now by completing the following:
As a child, I wanted to be a(n): __________
Three reasons I wanted to follow this career path are:
Now that I am older (and wiser?), reality kicked in. Truth of the matter, three things I know now about the job that I didn’t as a kid include:
By now, you’ve probably noticed that your priorities have changed, as they often do when we age. What mattered in a career as a child suddenly doesn’t matter as much anymore. In my case, swimming with dolphins didn’t stack up to holding a stable job that offered good benefits and pay. In the same vein, aligning dreams and expectations for your career must begin with step one. In other words, put your shoes on and get ready.
Satisfaction comes from making an informed decision using facts and statistics. An educated sojourner asks the question: what are the chances of actually landing the job. If your first step leads to an unattainable goal, dissatisfaction is most likely. Additional questions to consider include what are the working conditions? What’s expected of you? What type of company or services is being sold and will that conflict with my personal ethics? What’s the average annual salary?
Think about the reality of any career objective before that feeling of being trapped surrounds you. Ultimately, only you know what’s best for yourself.
Preparing for the first step is not an easy task and is often stumbled by blocks along the road. But with a clear focus in sight, it’s time to put forth the effort required to ensure dreams and reality will live together in a harmonious manner… join me next time as we examine ONETonline.org and how this career research tool can be your guiding light to a brighter and more fulfilling career.
Presented by Brandon Hayhurst