They ask when you’re young what you want to be when you grow up. For most of us, we giggle when we recall our answers. Professions like Doctor, Lawyer, Nurse, Firefighter are all pretty standard answers. We don’t question ourselves later, when in high school or the beginning of college, we pick a different path that aligns better to our interests. We’re told- your major is your career, it’s what you need to be striving for. I’m sure you’re like me, you picked something that was interesting (maybe it still is!) and you WENT FOR IT!
For me the path that I followed was always a bit ambiguous- I’ve always loved trying different things, trying out different hats in order to find my passion in one of them.
I can recall falling in love with art history, enriching myself in Asian art classics, getting a new camera to pursue photography, and commuting twice per week for an internship at the MA State House. All felt good, and as I look back- of COURSE it all makes sense now that I did them. They were FUN!
However, when we enter the workforce, it can be a rude awakening to see the realities of what our chosen career really is. It plays out when you add in coworkers, bosses, priorities, deadlines, cultures, etc. So what happens when you’ve spent time in one industry and you find yourself hating the subject area?
Perhaps at first you feel denial and guilt, after all you set your goals to achieving this career! Putting aside the educational investment piece of it- many of us fall out of love with what we set out to do originally. We often feel guilty for wanting to step away because it will somehow disappoint others. I know this all too well- I went to school for political science, and even received a dual master’s degree in international relations and public administration! My dream was to become a top diplomat- I thought that honor was my calling, both serving the American people and playing to my interest in global topics.
I couldn’t bring myself to go into diplomacy. At first it hurt- deeply. It felt like not doing it meant losing a part of me I’d always known.
When you realize you don’t love your dream anymore, it can feel like you’re lost- not sure of what direction to take next. I remember my heart racing whenever I thought about it.
I think we are drowned with other’s beliefs that goals and setting up structures will help you avoid having to deal when things don’t go as planned.
Sometimes,I learned, you need to listen to something other than goals, and try using your gut aka intuition. There’s no college class for that though :/ (at least at my school there wasn’t!).
My intuition was screaming at me - telling me that there was something much deeper than this one goal. It was the same intuition that fluttered when I fell in love with art, and I even became a model at one point to stay connected to my creative side.
What I began to realize when I made the decision to pursue my passion instead of becoming a diplomat was that when I first started getting sad, I was actually experiencing the relief after walking around with this heavy goal weighing on my constantly.
I felt relief that had been building up over time- sneaking up on me like a guilty gut feeling saying, “What would THEY think?”
Well, who are they?
For me the people who I thought would be disappointed if I chose to pursue my passion, ended up being my biggest supporters- my family and husband were rooting for me actually.
Support the Journey to your Passion + Purpose
Keep the lovers close, and anyone who starts hating, walk away. They don’t need to approve of your dream, and you don’t need it in order to succeed!
When you decide the dream you have isn’t working, and you don’t know what’s next- don’t panic. Also, don’t over engineer the next steps. In order to figure out what’s next, you’ll need to open yourself to other possibilities because if you have a closed mind you’re going to miss them.
Once I figured out that I wanted to become a coach, I started to experience even worse panic- I freaked out because it was so different than a traditional 9-5. In order to make it feel traditional- I surrounded myself with life coaching, I got certified, made a network of friends who also coach or are interested in it, I listen to podcasts, work with clients who inspire me to keep going….etc!
Your tribe can make a huge difference in helping you decide if the dream is worth pursuing, or if it’s simply a side passion that you can continuously enjoy without investing in that as your full time career.
If you’re experiencing the anxiety of shifting gears, join me in the Passion + Purpose Tribe, a community of women who support you reaching your happiest self.
I believe the journey is meant to feel bumpy at times- and changing your dream is an excellent reminder that similar to the way you changed your mind between Kindergarten and College- we are always growing, evolving, and our dreams can do that as well!