What does your dream life look like?
Do you ever stop to think what your life would look like if you could have it any way you wanted it? Me too.
One of the biggest factors contributing to my own happiness and abundance has been choosing and building a dream career that matches my skills and supports my dream life. So my question to myself was “How can I build a dream career that really works for me?”
I find a dream career provides meaning for me and generates enough income to support an abundant life. An abundant life starts with solvency, which means my monthly income exceeds my monthly expenses. It also means I am working to live, not living to work. Can you relate?
So… How do you build a dream career?
Whether you are designing your first career, in the middle of a life transition or just curious, these 6 steps will guide you to find your dream career which can provide the fuel to actualize your dream life.
The 6 Steps
#1 Dream Big
The very first thing I do when I am contemplating a career change is to imagine I have a totally blank canvas in front of me representing my life. Next, I visualize painting what my dream life looks like as though my brush is full of video in full-color, 3D. Visualizing what my dream life could look like helps me form a target for my life as the bullseye in the middle. Before I can reach my dream life, I need to know what I am aiming at. For me, I can see the beautiful home, travel, family time, and more. Ready to give it a whirl?
#2 Document Your Dream
Take out a blank sheet of paper and pen now and ask yourself some of these questions to form a basic vision of your dream life.
- Where do you see yourself on your 90th birthday? In 10 years? 5 years? 1 year? Next month?
- Where do you want to live? Big city? Country?
- What style of life are you looking for and what income level will help you reach your goals?
- Do you want or have children who will need to go to college?
- What is on your bucket list?
- What brings the most meaning to your life?
“If your ladder is not leaning against the right wall, every step you take gets you to the wrong place faster.”
#3 Interview Yourself About Your Dream Career
As was mentioned previously, building a dream career can serve as a foundation for building your dream life. Now is the time to interview yourself with questions to figure out what a dream career would look like to you. Alternatively, you can ask a friend to interview you instead. Set aside some time and consider recording the interview to play back to yourself later.
Here are some questions to help you get started:
- What would you do for a living if you knew you couldn’t fail?
- What kind of career would you pursue if money wasn’t an object?
- What if fear wasn’t a factor? What would you choose?
- What did you want to do as a kid? An astronaut?
- Do the careers you are attracted to pay the income needed to create your dream life?
- Would you rather start your own business or go into acting?
- Will this career path mean you need another “job” to finance getting started?
I find having conversations like this with myself or working with a friend to interview me has created the spark and set the momentum towards a very happy, meaningful, and prosperous life. I have experienced four or five dream careers in my life and writing to you today is another! Let’s move on to step 4.
#4 Clarify your Work Values
Often I have a vague idea of what my passion for work is, but I’m not clear on the type of career I could aim at that would fill my needs, including my income needs. The sooner you know your work values, the sooner you can find a match. Answering questions like these can help you leverage what you know from school or previous work to point you towards a potential dream career:
- Do you want to work from home or at an office?
- Do you prefer full-time or part-time hours?
- How much training or education will it take to certify for the position?
- How much time do you want to spend in school?
- What style of management do you thrive with – e.g. cooperative or directive?
- What employer/employee attitudes are you looking for?
- Do you want to work alone most of the time or with a group?
- How far do you want to commute if you need to? Do you enjoy travelling a lot or would you prefer less travel to spend time with family?
- What range of income will optimize your ability to reach your dream life?
Clarifying your preferred work values is vital for being truly happy in a career regardless of the industry. You may need to do a little research to find the answer, but this will completely help you in the long run.
#5 Take an Interest Assessment
Now that you have a vision for your ideal life, the type of work that seems appealing and a sense of your work values, it’s time to discover your natural interests that can give direction to your search.
There are many paid and free resources to learn about your interests. I have made it a practice to take at least one interest inventory every decade or so since college.
The two interest tests I like are the iStartStrong Report and the Myers Briggs Type Indicator, both are popular and well researched. Many organizations offering these assessments can also analyze and review your results individually and/or in a group. You can also complete these assessments for free online yourself. This free interest profiler from O*Net is similar to the Strong interest profiler.
NOTE: I recommend looking at all the careers listed for each of the Job Zones and at least three of your top interest areas such as Realistic, Social, Artistic, Enterprising, Conventional, or Investigative.
#6 Narrow the Path
The process of interviewing yourself and taking interest tests will likely give you dozens of relevant careers and job titles to choose from. The easiest way to begin narrowing the options down to just a few is to look for patterns.
For example, take the top 20 careers that catch your eye and sort them into career clusters/industries like: healthcare, business, architecture, science, art, education, human services, information technology and more. Prioritize a few industries and specific careers and research the specific careers on sites like O*Net Online to compare salaries and growth prospects of each job in each industry.
Notice the “future outlook” for each career as well. Is the job type growing or going extinct? You do not want to specialize in shoeing horses if the automotive industry is picking up steam. Similarly, you do not want to plan on a 30-year career as a Commercial Truck Driver if self-driving trucks are 5-10 years away.
Remember, career planning is a process not a destination
These days, careers are coming and going much more rapidly than in the past. My mom was able to train as an educator and then work the majority of her life and retire in that one field, which she loved. I, on the other hand, ended up working in careers that kept going extinct. First, I was selling 35mm film and analog video equipment then switched fields when digital cameras took over. Then, I worked as a recruiter for tech companies and when the Internet launched job search sites like Monster.com, our business dropped by about 50% within a year! And so my crooked path of becoming an author and freelance life navigator continues. I love my career!
Positive Note for the Future
If you have been going through a rough time with work and career options, despair not! Today, we are experiencing exciting technological breakthroughs. This may mean, however, that like myself, you may need to stay present with your chosen industries and be ready to leave a field that is declining or being automated out from under you.
So, as you do your career search, keep your basic skills and interests in mind so you can identify new industries coming on board and match your skills and interests to those new careers without a lot of interruption in your income.
What’s Next in Your Search for a Dream Career?
If you have gotten clarity from the previous steps and want to keep going, here are some quick actions steps to help you on your path.
- Create a personal dream team. Get some friends, professionals and support people together to assist you in finding your passion.
- Join or create an accountability support group. I still work with an accountability partner. Once a week we meet online through video conferencing and make written commitments on what we are going to get done before the next week. The following week, we share what we each completed on our lists and any thoughts or feelings that have come up in the past week. Then, we re-commit to action items for the next week and so on.
NOTE: EveryoneCounts.World will soon be offering a weekly drop-in peer support group with a facilitator to support your goals.
- Register for the Part 1: Find Your Passion course on EveryoneCounts.World
- Register for Part 2: Realize Your Passion on EveryoneCounts.World.
- Most importantly – enjoy the process and journey of your career life instead of falling into deprivation or scrambling mode when careers and industries change as they always do. Remember, you have options!