Advantage Career Solutions
Richard Phillips, Career Counselor and Coach
"Thoughts are dreams til their effects be tried" - William Shakespeare

Catching A Career Dream Is Like Catching A Fish

"I know it isn't possible," they say " but I'll tell you what I would really like to do." I hear these words quite often in my office, usually in the first hour or two that I'm meeting with a new client. It is uncanny how the words used are almost always the same. First, there is the disclaimer, "I know it isn't possible." Then comes the description of the wish, the dream, the hope that has been buried within them, sometimes for decades. As they finally start to talk about what they want, they light up. Sit up straighter in the chair. Their energy level goes up, even when we are meeting in the evening after they've spent a long, and tiring day doing something that is not their passion.

As I listen to my clients tell me about their dreams, I am also listening for the inevitable turnaround, the point at which they will begin to tell me why the dream must remain a dream, why it can never come true. The reasons given vary from client-to-client and from dream-to-dream. But the bottom line is always the same - an untested assumption that the dream cannot be attained. And although they don't realize it, they are telling me a profound human truth. When we believe something is not possible, we stop trying to get it. And because we stop trying to get it, we ensure that we won't get it.

Listening to clients first express enthusiasm for their dreams and then deny the possibility of attainment always makes me think of the times when I used to take my stepson fishing. As we were driving to the lake, he would ask me "Am I going to catch a fish?" I would always answer "No, you're not." This answer would, of course, drive him crazy. "How do you know that?," he would ask. "Where are the fishing poles", I would reply. "In the trunk and there aren't any fish in the trunk" This would keep him quiet for a few more miles until we arrived at the lake. We would bait our hooks and cast out the line. Then he would ask again "Now, are we going to catch a fish?" My reply at this stage of the proceedings was "Maybe." He didn't like this answer any better than my previous one. "Maybe", he'd yell. "That's not good enough. I want to be sure." At this point, I would give him one of those great parental philosophical pearls of wisdom that kids just hate to hear, but are good for them anyway. My answer would be "We've just gone from 'absolutely no chance' to 'maybe'. That is a cosmic leap forward." And then I'd add, "Also, it would help if you would stop yelling. You're scaring the fish."

I often tell my clients the above story as a way to illustrate both the dilemma they are in and the solution to it. They want to "catch" their dream job, their dream career. But they aren't fishing for it because they think they won't catch it. And they are, of course, right. If you don't go fishing, you are absolutely assured of not catching anything. If you do go fishing, you move from an absolute certainty to a maybe. This is a cosmic leap forward.

Breaking out of the cycle of a self fulfilling prophecy takes courage, persistence and a plan. Courage because there are risks when we step out of the familiar life, even if it isn't a happy one. Persistence because most dreams, like fish, take a while to take the bait. And a plan because ultimately dreams become reality as a result of all the steps, small and large, that we take to make them happen.

So, if there is something that you really want to do, but you aren't doing it, consider going fishing. You have no guarantee of what you will catch, but you will have moved from "absolutely not" to "maybe" and that is a cosmic leap forward. How do you go fishing? Well, I like to start with a simple question, which is "If you believed that you could get what you wanted, what would be the first five steps you would have to take to actually make it a reality and what -other than fear, doubt and uncertainty - is preventing you from taking them?" Sometimes there are real reasons why a particular step cannot be taken at a given time, but almost never have I encountered a situation where someone couldn't do at least something to move forward toward the realization of their dream.

Happy fishing!

I offer a free 30 minute telephone session to help you get started toward solving your career challenges - such as getting what you really want. The session is an opportunity for you to talk with a professional counselor and coach about what you want from your career or job and to get some initial feedback on what some solutions might be. It is also gives you the chance to experience my counseling style to see if I'm someone you'd like to have help you.

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