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How to Be a Dream-Chasing Realist: Broadening Your Knowledge, Skills and Network

Thanks for continuing to follow along with ithrive31’s How to Be a Dream-Chasing Realist blog series, which provides actionable steps for turning your dream career into a reality. So far, we’ve talked about the importance of Getting Your Financial House in Order and Making Time for Self-Reflection. Next, we’ll discuss the importance of building your skillset in this new area.

By this point, you’ve hopefully spent some time really thinking about what it is that you want to do – what you’re passionate about, what makes you tick, what is fulfilling for you. While your new path was likely driven by skills you already have, it’s important that you build on your current knowledge and abilities and establish the credibility you’ll need to be successful. Here are some specific ways to help you do that.

Do Your Research
In this day and age, we have access to unlimited information with a quick and easy Google search. Take advantage of online resources and conduct research about the industry or type of work you want to do. Explore sample business plans, review average income potential for your local area, and assess the current demand for this type of work/service. This is also the time to identify any gaps between the skills needed to be successful in the field and the skills you have currently.

Get Learning
Once you’ve identified which skills you need to grow or refine, consider taking courses online or from a local University or Community College to broaden your knowledge and strengthen your credentials. Many colleges and universities offer free courses online through Coursera and edX, and some offer the option of certifying your participation. You can also find great video tutorials on sites like and Skillshare. Depending on your career path, you might want to consider earning an advanced degree or obtain additional certifications. Check out this article from Forbes that explores whether you should return to school.  

If you are employed, you may want to build skills on the job like accepting an assignment or seeking on-the-job training to build new skills and competencies.  A friend of mine always had an interest in custom metal working artistic designs and he worked in a manufacturing factory. He asked his employer if they would help him obtain a welding certification and become an apprentice in this area.  His plan was to work for his current employer for three years, gain experience and then open his own high-end custom metal design shop.

Broaden Your Network
Networking is a huge part of this journey. Identify professional organizations, seasoned practitioners in the field, or blogs and podcasts from industry specialists. Connect with others who are doing what you want to do, and ask them how they’re doing it. Build relationships with them, and seek their feedback often. You may also consider attending industry conferences, where you can not only learn from experts but to network with your peers.  

Learning a new skill can be daunting, especially if you’ve been working in a certain job or field for a while. But remember that building credibility with an enhanced skill set is a critical step in the path to realizing your dream. It will take time, but it’s so worth it. Remember that even one small step in the right direction can make a huge impact!

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