Practical steps to transform a dream into a career
Pat Horner and Joan wing want people to spend more time dreaming about the perfect career. As Ms. Horner puts it, "We box ourselves in so much, thinking we can only perform this kind of job, live in this kind of place, achieve this level of success. Instead, we should work to expand our horizons."Skip to next paragraph
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The two women are past and present coordinators of Alternatives Careers, a county-funded office dedicated to transforming dreams into career options. With a series of eight workshops, they guide recent high school graduates, displaced homemakers, disgruntled teachers, and many others onto their best career paths.
The planning they offer, they say, is useful to anyone who wants to get the most out of life. "Everyone should periodically assess the job they have to see if it is moving them toward their lifetime goal," Ms. Wing asserts, "and the time to make the assessment is now."
This only works if you happen to have a lifetime goal, of course, and dreaming is just the first step of the goal's creation. Here is the full package:
* Kindle your dreams. Describe your ultimate job -- what you would wear, how you would get there, what kind of people you would work with, the type of product you would turn out and what your role would be, the salary you would receive, the hours you would work, the effect it would have on the rest of your life.
* Draw your lifeline. "You need to take a long, hard look at your life," says Joan Wing, "including all your peaks and valleys. The valleys are usually the most productive areas. These are the times when people or events backed you into making decisions, and decisions lead to growth."
The lifeline should reveal themes and patterns of your life, and help you pull your skills. Are you always put in charge of selling? Keeping the accounts? Do your hobbies let your work with your hands? Are you the one who settles the disputes, or stirs up the discussions?
Tie in these strengths with your goal setting. What are some skills you would like to learn or expand in the next five years? Are there jobs that could teach you these skills?
* Examine your motives. The office gives a chart to its clients that asks them to rate each area of past success or satisfaction according to whether it made them feel safe, left them free to do what they wanted, challenged them, made them grow, used their creativity, etc. After examining eight success areas according to these motivators, the real drives reveal themselves.
Alternative careers also holds "values auction" in which each participant is given a theoretical $500 and allowed to bid on world peace, family, money, power , respect, and so on. "People are sometimes amazed to see what they bid the highest for," says Ms. Wing.
The motives translate directly into determining both the type of job you want and the type of job atmosphere you thrive in. People who treasure predictability and security, for example, do well in more established firms, while those who long for flexibility, freedom, and a chance to try out their more creative ideas would do well to look for newer, less entrenched firms.
* Examine the work force. Once you have focused on your skills, drive, and dreams, you are ready to look through the 25,000 different jobs listed in the "Dictionary of Occupational Titles." Check those that seem to match your needs, and examine these a little more closely in the "Occupational Outlook." Both volumes should be available in your local library.