How To Rekindle Your Childhood Dreams When Making A Career Change

One of the questions in my career change assessment is about childhood dreams. What were yours? I wanted to be a journalist and was also interested in law. I remember taking modules on career theories and writing a few essays in my graduate learning. According to Super’s Developmental Self-Concept Theory, from birth to mid-teens, major developmental tasks are developing self-concept and moving from play to work orientation. Seligman, a positive theory psychologist, believes the main aim of career counseling is reaching the point at which we have clear, accurate self-images and are involved in the exploration of ourselves and the world of work. 

People who adore their work take time to develop self-awareness, gain clarity and create space to make intentional steps, but they’re not extra special and what they have isn’t elusive. Why entertain crippling thoughts? 

There is hope for you in your career, and that’s why the findings below caught my eye. In a 2020 survey taken by 2,000 Americans, respondents were asked to examine their childhood career dreams. The research was conducted by Zety, a résumé builder.

  • 67% of respondents stated they were not able to achieve their childhood vision of their dream jobs. 
  • 58% say they still wish they could achieve their dream jobs.
  • While some say their childhood dreams developed over time, the most popular response was that they “became more realistic.”

  Top 10 childhood dreams for men 

  1. Professional athlete
  2. Doctor
  3. Musician
  4. Police officer
  5. Business owner
  6. Superhero
  7. Teacher
  8. Movie star
  9. Architect
  10. Firefighter

    Top 10 childhood dreams for women

  1. Teacher
  2. Doctor
  3. Veterinarian
  4. Movie Star
  5. Writer
  6. Artist
  7. Fashion Designer
  8. Musician
  9. Business owner
  10. Chef

Here’s what I’d suggest if you’re yearning to weave your former dreams into your career path:

Ask yourself:

  • Was there a human influence that lead you to desire a path? I talk more about career influences’ and their impact in this column. While people can be a great support, your loved ones often have their own biases and ideals for your life. It’s important to distinguish where your career goals originate.
  • Does the job function align with your current values, and are you even clear on your values? 
  • Do you have the energy to take time out from your current job to reignite your dream? With accountability and a sound strategy, you could perhaps pursue writing, taking a short course, teaching a class, starting a side-business or getting involved in a meaningful project. LinkedIn ProFinder, Upwork, and Fiverr are three varied freelancing platforms if you wish to explore paid gig work.

Reflect on:

  • What caused you to walk away from your childhood dream? This is likely a key influence or value, and if you’re not aware, there’s no telling that it won’t influence you again in the future.
  • The fact that our careers are a journey. The world of work has changed, and you’re not in a box. Occupations are incredibly vast, and for each of these childhood occupations, there are hundreds of different roles within. Being a writer, teacher or business person looks and feels very different depending on the industry and company. 
  • The concept that a fulfilling job consists of these three things: an aligned job function, industry and company.

Remember, people who see success with their career changes take the time to reflect and develop self-awareness. If you’re sitting on your childhood dreams wishing you could do something about it, you actually can. 

Rachel Montanez is a holistic career change coach. Take her career clarity quiz and unlock your career change model.

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