How to Be a Dream-Chasing Realist: Make Time for Self-Reflection and Discovery
Welcome to the third post in the How to be a Dream-Chasing Realist Blog Series. Last week, I addressed the first actionable step for moving toward your dream job: Getting Your Financial House in Order. Now that you’re (hopefully!) sticking to a budget and stashing some of your monthly income away in a side account, it’s time to take a deeper look inside yourself to really evaluate your skills, strengths, talents, interests, passions, and abilities.
Maybe you have the perfect picture of the dream career you’re chasing. But my guess is, whether you’re considering starting your own business, or making a drastic change in your career path, you may be more certain about wanting something different rather than knowing exactly what that something is.
Now is the time to be introspective. This is the fun part! But keep in mind this also may take a bit of time. Once you decide what you’re meant to do, you will likely become more focused. But for now, I encourage you to be creative, keep an open mind, and use your resources.
Seek input from those close to you
Spend some time talking with family and close friends about what skills, talents, and abilities they see in you. It’s human nature to dismiss or diminish our talents. This is not the time to be modest. Ask them to describe a time when they saw you at your best, where they think you’re happiest, or what skill or talent you have that they admire. Maybe they were blown away by your creativity on your son’s birthday party invitations, maybe they’re in awe of how good you are with numbers, maybe they’ve seen you speak in front of a crowd and could sense your confidence, or maybe they envy your ability to re-decorate a room over a weekend. Listen for patterns, identify a few things worth exploring, then dig deeper.
Do Your Research
When you don’t have the details figured out, Google it. Seek experts through podcasts, blogs, forums. Talk with others who have a dream like yours and seek advice. Yes, the amount of information out there can be daunting, but knowledge is power!
As this article from themuse says:
No matter what you do, you probably want to be successful at it. So what better way to get started than by learning how others reached their goals? Keep in mind as you’re reading that these people weren’t born knowing what they wanted to do either.
You could also enlist the help of tools like Hogan Personality Assessments, StrengthsFinder, Myers-Briggs, Birkman and many other assessments that can help you learn a bit more about your personal style and work preferences. None of these are silver bullets but will help add pieces to your amazing puzzle.
What Energizes you?
Do you remember the last time an hour or two passed and it felt like mere moments? What were you doing? When we lose track of time, it’s usually because we’re engaged in an activity we enjoy. Think about these activities…what is it you like about them? what skills are you using? does the finished product make you feel proud or fulfilled?
Pay attention to which activities leave you feeling energized vs. those that suck the energy out of you. For example, does speaking in front of a group of people give you an adrenaline rush, or leave you exhausted?
Write it Down
As you’re doing your self-reflection, exploring things that interest you, and gathering feedback from family and friends, write down what you are learning. This gives you the ability to look back and identify trends, and there’s something cathartic about writing. Daily writing also gives you a means of identifying and tracking your progress on goals related to your dream job. Read more about the life-changing habit of journaling.
Even if you are not a daily writer, grab a journal and write down what you are discovering about your interests, passions, energy, likes, and preferences. As you write, over time, trends may emerge and personal insight can take place.
Seek Professional Guidance
If you’re still feeling stuck, you may benefit from engaging a professional career/life coach who can offer a fresh perspective. A coach will help you recognize your value, stay accountable and motivated, navigate difficult career decisions, and build confidence. They can also offer great tools to help you move forward.
While you may be inclined to skip or hurry through this step, don’t rush it. This is a great time for self-discovery, and is a critical part of finding a career that fulfills you. As with every step in this journey, remember to be patient. Be sure to watch for future posts in the series, and remember to take things one step at a time.