[06.20.11] When to Give Up on Finding Your Dream Career [Featured]

When to Give Up on Finding Your Dream Career

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Everyone wants a job they love. We all want to wake up excited to go to work, spend our days accomplishing goals we’re proud of, and come home feeling pleasantly fulfilled. Oh, and somewhere in there, we’d like a paycheck that provides us with a comfortable lifestyle and may one day put our kids through college.

That’s the dream anyway. But, in reality, we often have to settle for less. We put our dreams on hold in order to put food on the table. That perfect, dream career is exchanged for a livable wage, a decent commute and stability.

When Should You Give Up On Finding Your Dream Career?

To say you should never give up on finding that dream career sounds a bit naïve. I understand the world requires us to make sacrifices and, at times, we have to put the needs of our families above our personal desires for career fulfillment. But I still encourage everyone to hold tight to the dream. Not because I think it will one day magically come true. But because nothing is permanent. And, even if you have to momentarily let it go, it’s not to be forgotten completely.

The Path Changes

Many people have told me the path to their dream career looked nothing like what they expected. They took non-traditional roads and explored uncharted territory to get there. It seemed for a while that they were off course. And then, amazingly, they were able to guide their current path in the right direction.

This happened to me, in fact. I had buried my dream of being a writer and was working as an Executive Assistant. I channeled my creative energy into a blog, where I wrote about my challenges at work and how I was overcoming them. My writing was seen by millions and a few years later, I sold my blog and became a full-time writer. I never would have expected the path I was on as an Executive Assistant would lead me to my dream of being a writer. I had to manipulate the path somewhat and turn it into something a little different, but it worked.

The Destination Changes

I’ve known many people who tell me they woke up one day and realized they were in their dream career, and it was nothing like what they thought it would be. The job they had taken to make ends meet on the way to another destination turned out to be more than just a stop along the road.

A friend of mine, struggling to become an actor, finally accepted a full-time position as a customer service trainer. About a year into the gig, he told me wasn’t interested in going on auditions anymore. He felt he had “fallen” into his dream career and it was something he never expected. Sure, it wasn’t as glamorous as being a movie star, but he felt fulfilled. He was using his talents in a way he had never thought of before.

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The World Changes

I couldn’t have envisioned my career ten years ago. Even five years ago, the technology I use on a daily basis was only just being developed. The world is constantly changing and growing and, with it, new careers are emerging. In the future, technology we can’t begin to understand will become a part of the mainstream and it will shift our society in ways we can’t predict. Our limits are ever-expanding, and our career possibilities are growing each and every day.

I think about the courses available to college students today and it completely boggles my mind. They are facing a whole world of opportunities that we never had at their age. They can get degrees in online social media! Such an idea never existed five years ago. What will be available in another five years? How will it impact our business world? How will it change your idea of a dream career? No one knows.

YOU Change

You’re not the same person you were yesterday. Ultimately, we’re all changing, every minute of every day. Our dreams are fluid. What once might have seemed like a dream career may no longer suit you.  Be willing to let your dreams change and not feel guilty or that you’ve failed. Sometimes, you have to let go of old dreams to let the new ones in. That’s not “giving up.” It’s growing up.

Let your career dreams live through you. Don’t stifle them, ignore them or forget them. They are a part of you. But give yourself the freedom to make your own way. Because we live in the real world, not a dream world. We have responsibilities and families and mortgages. Remember everything changes and let the world surprise you. Never give up on yourself, your dreams or the possibilities that exist.

[This article was originally posted on an earlier date]

Chrissy Scivicque (pronounced “Civic”), founder of Eat Your Career, is an award-winning freelance writer/editor with a passion for two things: food and helping others.

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Chrissy Scivicque

Chrissy Scivicque is the founder of EatYourCareer.com. She's a certified career coach, corporate trainer, and public speaker.

10 comments

  1. Unfortunately you have drawn a comparison between a career and a job.

    NEVER give up on your dreams. Articles like these are dangerous in my opinion and causes people to settle; breeding mediocrity and normalcy throughout the world. Attitudes like these stunt the growth and progress of mankind.

    Keep dreaming and keep pursuing.

  2. Glad to have found this article. At one point, while in college, my dream career was as a CPA with a Big 6 accounting firm. That did happen, but it didn’t last long, and two financial crises in 10 years showed me that financial firms in all industries including accounting, banking, retirement, etc will keep you in dream job as long as they see it fit. As a result, I have no loyalty to any employer except the one that lives at my address.

  3. Great article Chrissy!

    When I do career exploration with clients who have been focused on a particular ‘dream career’, I often uncover that what excites them isn’t the work itself, but intangibles associated with the dream: wanting to be a flight attendant because they love to travel, wanting to be in television because they love being in front of people, want to be in public relations because they enjoy organizing events. 
    In these cases, I try to help my clients explore ‘the dark side’ so that really understand what they are getting into – that flight attendants rarely see more than airports, that television involves a lot of painful production planning, that a huge chunk of public relations involves trying to sell your company’s services to new clients.

    If the dream job is still a dream job, even with full awareness of the dark underbelly, then a jobseeker can put a plan in place to achieve the dream – but maybe not immediately. It’s not settling for less if you get a job that will pay the bills while you pursue the training you need and develop the network of contacts that will help you to move into your target industry, and it can take five years or even longer to get all the pieces in place. In the process of doing so, it is prudent to keep doing a personal check to make sure that the dream is still the right destination.

  4. So true. Planning and execution have their role in project management, but a career is *much* bigger than a “project.” So many of my best opportunities have been completely unexpected: luckily, I've been able to recognize and act upon most of them. Each new day's filled with unforeseen possibilities and potential, and that has kept me positive even in the toughest jobs and situations.

  5. Yes, you should give up on 'finding' your dream career. If you want your dream career, you have to make it happen, not search for it. Just like how you continued writing, when you had a full time job that doesn't involve writing. And I think, as we work to make our dream career a reality, we begin to put to test what we really want out of life, and how we want to live.

  6. Along with all the pressures of technology + change, the idea of work and its meaning in our lives shifted. One would think we can pick anything we want. We can, and if that is the only thing we want, we may get there. I am looking for some balance and revitalizing my core values will help me find the means to move forward and redraw new dreams.

  7. Careers seem to evolve. My expectations were very different when I graduated from college than they are now. After spending years working, I found jobs that I didn't know existed as well as jobs that I dreamed of but the reality of them did not match up to my idealistic expectations. My experience has taught me that you have to become less rigid about what you expect and keep your eyes open as you go on the ride called your career.

    Silvia

    http://www.FindYourFooting.com

  8. Someone said, pursuing your dream entails some cost but you must be willing to bear them. The article so wonderfully talks about dream career with sensible examples. Glad to stumble across this piece.
    Thanks for sharing.

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