There was this episode of “How I Met Your Mother” where Ted and the gang all realize that they may never accomplish “someday” childhood career dreams they’re all still holding onto.
Someone had always wanted to be a painter, someone else a rockstar, and then there were a few really ridiculous ideas…I can’t remember all of the dreams. The gang reminisces about the career pursuits they once longed for. Some of them try to pursue the dreams once again in order to turn them into a reality. They realize they’ve all been hoping to accomplish their childhood dreams ‘one day.’ By the end of the half hour, they let the dreams go, and keep on the path they were on before. The moral seems to be: we need to put those childhood dreams to rest for something better to take hold in our lives.’
I was never satisfied with that episode. I think one of the reasons it got under my skin was that my career path has taken such a different turn from what I’d originally expected. When I watched that episode, I wondered if I’d given up on my childhood career dream. Am I still holding on to the belief that I’ll one day pick up my former dream again? Is that belief false?
Right now, I’m a self-employed Corporate Spokesperson and Product Specialist (to be better explained in another post), and I work in a lot of different industries, traveling at least half the time. I really enjoy what I do. When I don’t ponder dream careers and childhood ‘what I want to be when I grow up’s”, I feel a deep satisfaction with my job….for now. But then I think along the lines of: ‘Am I pursuing my dreams?’ ‘Is my inner child satisfied?’ ‘Do I know what my career dreams are?’ The questions lead me down all sorts of analytical paths.
I wonder what it means to feel satisfied right now while not pursuing my childhood dream.
I wonder what my career dream really is. I always thought I wanted to be an actor- but that’s not my dream at the moment. What do I make of that? Have I given up? Was it never really my dream?
I think of the famous men and women who began what became their ‘defining career start’ later in life. The long list of people includes Vera Wang (40 when she entered the fashion industry), Henry Ford (57 when he created the Model T), Suze Orman (36 when she started her financial group), Gene Hackman (37 when he got his first film role), Colonel Sanders (62 when he franchised Kentucky Fried Chicken), Stan Lee (38 when he created his first comic: The Fantastic Four), Julia Child (50 when her first cookbook came out), Laura Ingalls Wilder (65 when the “Little House on the Prairie” books came out)….and many more.
Some of these people pursued a childhood dream that was finally accomplished late in life, and others ended up on a completely new career path…or two or three. I’m sure all of them had moments of confusion about the paths they were on. I’m sure they had many more moments of feeling like they failed. But the important part was that they kept on, proving that they were trying even while possibly failing and failing again.
Right now, I’m satisfied with my career. I’m not pursuing my childhood dream, but it’s not what I want at the moment. And for now, all I can do is listen to my gut. There are times when I’m filled with doubt, and times when I feel confused, but I find clarity in trusting myself and continuing forward, trying to be brave enough to fail and fail again. I make changes as I go, add and subtract, and above all, I continue questioning.
Careers twist and turn, and it’s both okay to pursue your childhood dream with a vengeance, or to let it go to make room for other dreams…or then to pick it back up again years later. Stay honest with yourself, know it’s never too late, and let yourself question your dreams, both old and new.