Have you settled in your career?
In other words, think about what your dream career was when you were in your early twenties, or even younger than that. Are you living it? Or have you written that off as just wishful thinking?
Having a dream and never seeing it realized is perhaps one of the strongest pains one can experience. If you find yourself nodding sadly, you’re not alone. One of the top regrets people has in life involves their career choices.
And for good reason—your career takes up a solid chunk of your waking time, so if you’re not doing something you love, it’s precious time wasted.
But it’s not too late. Don’t be resigned to a career that makes you want to stay in bed every morning. There are ways to get the career of your dreams so you can live your life to the fullest. But first, you’ll have to answer a few questions for yourself.
The Four W’s to Find Your Dream Career
1. What do you want to do?
This seems like an obvious question, but it’s trickier than you think. Be specific: what do you want to do? There are countless career paths out there, and it’s a bit pointless to change careers to another one you don’t enjoy.
What could you see yourself doing for the rest of your life? Figure out your passion, first and foremost.
Related: Let Life Dream You
2. Why do you want to do it?
Secondly, what makes you want this career? Make sure your priorities are in order. For example, if you want to be a doctor not because you’re passionate about medicine, but simply because you’d make a lot of money, you’re changing your career for all the wrong reasons.
Make sure your “why” is something along the lines of “because I love it.” Would you work in this job even if you didn’t get paid for it? If your answer is “yes,” you know you’re on the right track.
Related: 7 Tips to Achieve Your Dreams
3. Where do you want to work?
If you want to get into film production, but you still want to stay in your little small town, you’re going to have a tough time. You have to make sure to keep your location in mind. If you don’t want to uproot yourself or your family, make sure to choose a career path that is still viable in your area—but still one that you love!
4. Who can you get in contact with?
Now that you’ve figured out your main goal, who do you know that can help you figure out the next step? If you want to be a chef, and you have a friend who’s a chef, it’d be silly not to ask them for advice.
Think about your friends, family, and co-workers. Rack your brain for any stories they’ve told you about their friends who may be in the career area you desire. Networking is often the golden ticket to success.
How to Take Action on your Dream Career
Once you have answered your own questions, you can start taking steps to start that career you won’t regret.
1. Talk to your support system…but stay true to your inner voice
Talk to your loved ones about your plans. They can give you advice on what to do and can help you talk things out. Just keep in mind that sometimes those closest to you try to talk you out of reaching for the stars, so listen to what they have to say, but remember to follow your dream even if you hear others try to talk you out of it.
Related: The Power of Positive Thinking
2. Consider leaving your current job
For some dream careers, you can work towards your goal while still staying at your current job. However, if you want to be a lawyer, you can’t really stick around at your teaching job. That means resigning from your job, a huge life decision…but it may be the right decision if you’re going from a job you tolerate to a career you love.
3. Test it out
Before you jump head-first into your new career, is there a way you can test it first? Unless you’re certain you know you want to work in this new field, consider an internship, volunteering, or part-time work first so you can get a sense of what it’s like to work in this new career. You may find there’s a different area you want to get involved in, or that perhaps you want to take it in a different direction.
The bonus is that by testing the waters first, you’ll build valuable connections that can help you when you do decide to make your big leap.
Related: 3 Steps to Achieve a New Goal
4. Go back to school (if need be)
Your dream career might only be a slight switch (from journalism to a novelist, for example), or it could be something that doesn’t require schooling. But if you want to be an architect, but you majored in education, you’re going to need to go back to school—an option many adults take. Consider your options and start applying.
5. Update your resume
If you’ve been in your job for a while, your resume might need some tweaking. Remember that resumes and cover letters are your first impression to future employers, and you need yours to really shine, especially if you don’t have much experience in your dream career field.
6. Don’t get discouraged
Remember that you’ll be likely to face rejection at some point. That’s completely normal. After all, you are trying something completely new, and you’re bound to make a few errors and hit a few obstacles along the way. However, don’t let this discourage you. Let these moments be lessons to you, and make them fuel to keep on going towards your dream career.
Will you find yourself feeling regretful about your career choices when you’re old and gray? If so, you can change it now. Answer the four W’s, talk to your loved ones, consider your current job and education, update your resume, and stay positive. A year from now, you could be living the dream 24/7.