Monthly Archives: May 2016

What was your dream career growing up?

Standing in the professor’s office, surrounded by dusty books, she looked at me and asked: “What do you want to do after you graduate?”

I matched her gaze and told her I wanted to write short stories for a living.

Without missing a beat she said, “You can’t do that.”

And me, feeling the truth, looked down and whispered, “I know.”

I wanted to be a writer.
In May of 2000, I graduated from The College of New Rochelle with a bachelor of arts degree in Communication Arts. I had absolutely no plan or direction for my life after graduation.

To be honest, I didn’t even try. I didn’t apply for any jobs and I hadn’t put any effort into looking at grad schools. The only thing I knew I wanted to do was to write stories. I’d been doing it since I was twelve but I was convinced, and my professor solidified it for me, I could never make a living creating fictional worlds for others to enjoy.

That was something for someone who was prepared to live in poverty or had a rich spouse to take care of things while they joyfully tapped on a keyboard all day.

At least that is what I believed because when I was growing up–Ha! I never thought I’d use those words–the internet was in its infancy. If you wanted to write stories, you had to submit by mailing them with a self-addressed stamped envelope, and wait until you were ordained worthy by an editor in order to get published anywhere.

Thankfully, in the last few years, all that has dramatically changed. To my utter delight.

Wait! You mean I can make a living as a writer?
Since that day in my professor’s office, I never thought of writing creatively again. Instead I focused on journalism and other non-fiction writing, my dream career of being a short story writer buried and forgotten.

All that changed when I visited JA Konrath’s blog, to see what books he had coming out next, and realized he’s been documenting his journey from traditional to self publishing for over ten years. It’s his full-time career.

He’s actually make a stellar living writing books and short stories. From his website, I learned about other writers doing the same thing.

Stumbling on his digital home and coming to the realization that I actually can achieve my dream career is what catapulted me to return to writing regularly.

What did you want to be when you grew up?
Maybe what you have always wanted to be, someone told you that you can’t. And maybe at the time, you really couldn’t see a way. Now that you look back at that idea, can you see, with new technology or your experience, how you can actually do this thing?

If last week, when I asked you what do you want to do when you grow up and you thought back to an idea you had but didn’t actually let it flourish, it might be time to dust that off and take a fresh look at it. Do you still want to do it?

What do you want to be when you grow up?

Remember when Kathie Lee sat next to Regis every morning, Ricki Lake regularly exposed cheating partners, and Jerry Springer was so outrageous you couldn’t miss an episode?

It was during this time, Oprah was making her switch from sensational tactics to get eyeballs to inspirational topics to help everyone realize they are responsible for their lives. And every weekday at 4 p.m., Oprah broadcasted from my grandmother’s kitchen counter while she served dehydrated American dishes, that she only made because she didn’t think her grandkids would eat her West Indian cooking.

During those thirst-quenching dinners, as I watched Oprah gain respect and easily command an audience, I decided I wanted to be her. I wanted to be popular and for everyone to love me.

To my dismay, when I finally got in front of a camera during my college broadcasting class, I discovered I hated it. I felt completely vulnerable, stiff and uncomfortable. I know, those who have seen me give my commercial at BNI meetings or execute my Toastmasters’ speech with zeal are probably raising both their eyebrows in disbelief, but it’s true.

Seeing as how my television career was cut short, before it began, I had to make a serious pivot in my career. I shifted to journalism and owning my own magazine, helping high school students find scholarships and get all the info they needed to get into college.

Except there was another snag in the plan when I realized I didn’t want to have to do all the work it took to get that started. Seriously, there is A LOT of work to get a magazine going: raising capital, finding other writers, designers, distribution, etc. I didn’t and still don’t want any part of that.

Ugh! Now I had to scrap that idea and come up another one,  which is the story of my career. I test something out, don’t like it, move on. In the crystallizing of the idea I always exclaim “This is it!” So far, these are the careers I’ve tested out.

Journalist
Copywriter
Proofreader
Life Coach
Career Coach
Professional Speaker
Business Coach
Confidence Coach
Body Confidence Coach

Some of these careers I am still actively dabbling in, others I’ve put on the backburner, for now. To be honest, I have three more career ideas I want to test.

And that is the point.

As you get older, you will change, and what you started out doing 2, 5, or more years ago may not be what you want to be doing now.

Honestly, why in the world is it that we are forced to decide what we want to be at the ripe ol’ age of 18? We are just figuring out how to party all night, make it to class the next day and pay attention through a hangover. We are not living in the futuristic dystopian city of Chicago in Divergent. We can’t possibly be ready to plan for our ENTIRE lives.

If you are feeling the career you are in is not where you want to be forever, it’s okay. You can change your mind, and it doesn’t matter how many years you have spent in your current career. Stop forcing yourself to like it.

You only have this one life, you don’t want to waste it doing something you no longer or maybe never enjoyed.

Tweet: You only have this one life, you don’t want to waste it doing something you no longer or maybe never enjoyed.

Now, it’s time for you to chime in:  When you were younger, what did you always dream you’d do when you grew up? Are you doing it? Why or why not?