We were all asked as children, "What do you want to be when you grow up?" It's a great question. It lets you take off the shackles of reality and simply dream. As you enter 2010, ask yourself again, "What do you want to be when you grow up?"
Dreaming was easy and natural when we were children. When I was a kid I never settled on one dream. I was constantly picking new and different futures. After taking a class trip to the local fire hall, I proudly declared I was going to be a fireman when I grew up. Another time my teacher gave me an A for a short story I wrote, and I decided I was going to be an author. I even considered being an architect based on my amazing Lego building skills. Each time I made one of these little declarations, I pictured a new future. It was very liberating.
The older we get the harder it is to dream. The realities of the present squash dreams. It's hard to imagine new and different futures when you are dealing with the pressures of a job, a mortgage, family obligations and a to-do list a mile long. A dream may bubble up, but it's quickly popped when that little voice in the back of our heads says, "that's nice, but ..." After a while many adults stop dreaming altogether.
Dreams are important, especially for a successful career. Dreaming helps us consider our options, and allows us to focus our ambitions and capabilities. For example, you may dream of running your own business one day. As you get into this dream you might consider your leadership style, and the impact you have on your staff and the community. You may dream of the type of company you are running, the services it delivers and the brand it has established. The more you dream of this future the more tangible it becomes.
Elite level athletes use dreaming to propel themselves to greater heights. As the Olympics get closer you will hear many athletes talk of their dreams of winning a gold medal. They can describe in vivid detail the steps they are taking on their journey, and what it will feel like once they achieve their dream. Their dreams are a roadmap for success.
You too can use dreaming to propel your career forward. Take a few moments, and imagine your life five years from today. Where are you? What are you doing? What job do you hold? Why are you doing this job? How much money are you earning? What impact are you having on the company? What impact are you having on the community? Keep asking these questions.
As you dream and ask questions, try to solidify the place you are going, and why it is important for you. At first you may not have a very evolved picture of your five year future. It may feel like one of those childhood dreams like, "I want to be an astronaut." Don't fear. Keep practicing, and the fog will clear.
The next step is to turn your dreams into goals. Pull out your resume, and write in a new section five years from today. Describe the job you are doing, your title, your income, your core responsibilities and your accomplishments. This will give you a roadmap to your goals.
When you know where you are going in five years, you can plan what you will have to do and achieve to get there. For example, some people dream of moving into management and leadership roles. This can be a big career progression from an individual contributor, because it requires different skills and talents to be successful. To move forward into a leadership role consider the experiences you will need to have, and how your current employer can help facilitate the change. You may discover you need to take some courses and training, and maybe even do some community or volunteer work to acquire the necessary talents. If this is your goal, going out and getting the necessary skills will be all worthwhile.
Dreaming is an opportunity to experience a future, whatever it may be, and live in it vicariously. Like an elite athlete you can imagine the destination, and the steps it will take to get there in great detail. This perspective provides purpose for your career, and the actions you take on a daily basis. It's a roadmap for success.
About the Author:
Jeremy Miller is a Partner with LEAPJob. LEAPJob is a sales and marketing recruiting firm in Toronto, Canada.