A lot of blogs and other media posted about World Dream Day yesterday, featuring posts about how to pursue those dreams, and why you should never give up on them. Now, I always found that that was a great thought, but what if you don’t even know what that dream is? Being a late bloomer myself, I’ve always felt kind of guilty and frustrated that I couldn’t answer the questions everyone had been asking me my entire life. “What do you want to be?” “What’s your dream job?” “What do you want in life?” Nowadays, however, I truly believe that it’s OK not to know. Better even. And here’s why.
That’s about the biggest certainty there is in life. Think back on when you were a kid and they asked you what you wanted to be when you grew up. Of course you knew! And it changed. About each half hour. Actress! Veterinarian! Pilot! Astronaut! Archeologist! All depending on which film or program we’d just seen, am I right? It changed then, and it will keep changing as you grow older, because I’ll bet my life a lot of us didn’t even know what we wanted to do when it was already time to choose. When we were reading all those education pamphlets that would send us in a certain direction about half or more of us wouldn’t even want to be in a couple of years later. Don’t get me wrong, it’s entirely possible you got it right from the first try, but believe me when I say: you got lucky. For now. Because - guess what - things could STILL change.
When you don’t know what you want to do in life, you actually have the opportunity to go at it the other way around. Instead of focusing entirely on your career and climbing the ladder the minute you start working, it’s easier to take a step back and really think about what you love to do, who you are, what would make your life worthwhile in your eyes, and which job would help you achieve those goals.
TRYING OUT DIFFERENT JOBS IS GOOD.
So, I’m definitely not saying you should sit on your bum while you figure out what you want to do. You take other jobs, any job you like or even NEED to take, really, and learn from them. Because if there’s anything that will make you realise what you really want to do, it’s a job you don’t like doing. Take me, for example. I did my share of corporate jobs before I started working at the shoe store I currently work at, and while I was grateful for the opportunity and for sending me on my way, the biggest lesson I learned from those jobs was that I was not made to sit at a desk day after day. No matter how much more money it made, really, I was just not. But you might be! So just try it. Try it all and learn. Is where I currently am perfect? No, but I’m getting there. And so will you as long as you don’t sit still.
YOU ARE NOT ALONE.
Take that to heart when the not-knowing is getting you down. I’m 100% sure most people are just having a go at it, making things up as they go along while working hard. Heck, many people that are super successful now were once where you’re at now. J.K. Rowling, Amy Poehler,… But while their stories can be an inspiration, don’t let them put you under pressure, either. Everyone is working their own timeline. ;)
YOU HAVE AND NEED TIME.
Time to get to know yourself (because, honestly, who really does, especially in their early twenties?!), which is pretty essential in your search for that dream. Time to educate yourself. Time to work on what you love after hours. A lifetime of it, just make sure you’re spending it the way you want to.
So there you have them, a couple of thoughts to perk you up when you feel a little lost. Mind you, I do understand that those will not always be enough to make you feel less blergh about not knowing the answers, or help you think about what you want to do. These next few questions might, however, because they’re certainly helping me on my way to finding out what I really want to do in my life. Here goes:
1) What are you really good at?
2) What are your biggest interests?
3) Where do those first two lists overlap?
4) Imagine yourself when you’re much older. What would you be proud of leaving behind?
5) What do you want to be remembered for?
6) What makes you feel good or at peace?
7) Revisit your childhood dreams. Any of those stick?
8) What would you want to do every day?
9) In a dream world, what does your perfect self look/feel like?
Still don’t really know what you want to do? Or what’s more: don’t really feel the need to? Well, then that’s ok, too! Not everyone measures their life’s worth in finding their dream job. Happiness can come from lots of other things; hobbies, family, friends, pets (oh, yes, I went there),…. It’s more than OK to just take life as it comes at you, as long as you’re happy, and I think that that’s actually the most important thing to take away from this blogpost. Live your life how YOU, not anyone else, want to. Good luck!
DO YOU KNOW WHAT YOUR DREAM JOB IS AND HOW ARE YOU WORKING TOWARDS IT? ANY LESSONS YOU’VE LEARNED FROM A JOB YOU HATED OR LOVED? I’D LOVE TO HEAR ABOUT IT!
Cover credit goes to the forever amazing Bill Watterson, who has often made me laugh at my own recognisable misery and has been the biggest ‘see, not alone!’ consolation in life.