It’s a great time of year to think about what you’ve accomplished so far in life and where you want to go from here. Get excited! A huge percentage of our lifetimes are spent working, thus finding a job within an industry that brings meaning to your life in one way or another is something everyone should strive to achieve.
I hope by the end of this post you’ll feel more confident about yourself and your future. The true stories I’ve shared below about everyday people I know are proof that it is possible to have a dream career without winning the lottery or being a celebrity. The first step is believing you can have a dream career. Arm yourself with a positive mind set and determination and be willing to make sacrifices and put in the work. You also have to be able to overcome criticism, doubts, hesitations, excuses and roadblocks in order to get there. Achieving a dream can be done!
When I was in high school, I clearly remember my best friend telling me she wanted to be a news anchor. She said it with such conviction and confidence that I was almost shocked. I had no idea what I wanted to do with my life at that age except wish I had enough talent to be a star on Broadway.
Her desire to become a news anchor sounded pretty impossible me, but she didn’t think so. She knew what she wanted and to my surprise she did it. How? She aced AP English, graduated from a top university’s English program, took some time off to attend radio broadcasting school, got her feet wet in journalism and reporting news at small radio stations, emceed local events and eventually got her first reporter/anchor job with a small TV station. Her success and willingness to work crazy night shifts and long hours then led her to larger metropolitan stations. Once she worked 26 hours straight, but thankfully her hours aren’t so crazy anymore. She still considers herself a workaholic but she’s living her dream career every single day!
During my 20s I became friends with a professional photographer. The first time I met her I almost didn’t believe she was serious when she told me that’s what she did for a living. It just sounded too good to be true. But once I went over to her apartment, checked out her studio space and looked at her portfolio, I could tell she was the real deal.
I asked her how she became a photographer and was shocked when she told me she was completely self taught. She had worked in sales for several years, but her heart wasn’t in it. So she saved diligently and decided to start her own photography business. Everything she learned came from diving into books, videos and a whole lot of practice in her free time. She was able to grow her business by honing her skills, creating her own website and getting referral after referral from happy clients. She doesn’t make as much money as when she was in sales, but her level of happiness is through the roof.
My first full-time job out of college was working as an office manager for a small investment company. During my time there, I became good friends with a laid back coworker who was roughly 8 years older than me. He worked on complicated spreadsheets most of the time and didn’t really like his job there, but he always had a positive attitude and would teach me things when he wasn’t busy.
One day I remember he said he was thinking about quitting to become a college professor. Wow, that’s a really lofty goal I thought. I worried he would wind up unemployed. But low and behold he surprised me on the upside when he landed a job as an assistant finance professor about a month later at one of the UC schools. Nine years later he became a full on professor and still teaches to this day.
Now that I look back, he was the perfect candidate. He had two masters degrees, a PhD and had been publishing research papers on econometrics in extensive academic publications. He’s happier than ever teaching his students and I couldn’t be more thrilled for him.
Scuba Diving Instructor
A couple years ago I got certified to scuba dive recreationally. A couple months afterwards, I had a trip planned to Hawaii and booked a half day of diving with a company that had top ratings on Yelp. It was off peak tourist season, so my friend and I ended up having the boat all to ourselves and we got to talking to the dive master.
He told us how he learned how to dive in Guam, fell in love with the sport and started working for a small diving company. He saved up some money in the hopes of starting his own business someday. A few years later, wanting a change of scenery, he moved to Hawaii and found a business partner. Together they bought a boat and started a scuba diving business. He makes a lot more money now than when he was in Guam and has complete freedom to choose his hours and dive sites. Getting to dive for a living is his dream come true.
Some people know from an early age what type of career they want to pursue. I didn’t really know what type of career I wanted, so I focused on practicality and a steady paycheck first. I knew I wanted more out of my career but I hadn’t figured out how. Fortunately, when I was in my late 20s, Sam Dogen of Financial Samurai introduced me to the world of blogging and online marketing. I didn’t know a thing about running a website, let alone a business, but I was intrigued and started to learn about online media and entrepreneurship during my free time.
Inspired by Sam and other members of the Yakezie network, I started blogging and before long I was totally hooked. I always loved to write growing up, but never thought that I could write for a living. The more I learned and wrote, the more I realized that was the direction I wanted my career to take. With a lot of hard work, persistence, saving and planning, I was able to escape my day job. Now I get to do what I love on my own terms and I couldn’t be happier. Working doesn’t even feel like work anymore because I’m having so much fun seven days a week!
Turn your dream career into reality
We don’t know what we’re truly capable of unless we try. So many of my friends surprised me with what they were able to accomplish in their careers and that helped me believe that I too could do great things.
Landing your dream job won’t happen over night, but achieving it IS a possibility. I hope you use your free time this year to learn new things and pursue a dream career that you love. It’s never too late to start!
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Break free! If you’re burnt out of your day job, believe that you have options and can turn your career around for the better. I didn’t believe I could escape the grind for the longest time, but fortunately I wised up before stress destroyed my life. I never would have thought I could negotiate a severance package and get paid to leave a job I grew to hate, but I did! Learn how you too could get paid to leave your job like I did and open your eyes to new opportunities.
Untemplaters, are you happy in your career thus far? How would you describe your dream career? What true stories do you have of people in your network who successfully pursued their dream jobs?