Sometimes, you have to lose everything to get a sense of what you really want
If you don't know what you love, don't worry. There's no need to figure that out right away
As a child, when I’d be getting ready for school, I always insisted on closing the buttons of my uniform’s white shirt myself. And everytime I did that, I felt like a doctor getting ready to go on rounds in the hospital. Envisioning myself as the savior of all felt like the most satisfying experience then, little did I know how taxing it was going to be, handling just myself once I’m all grown-up. Being responsible for your own self is a task – let alone being the one to save another person’s life or organ or something medical!
I’m not far from the crowd, considering LinkedIn’s ‘Dream Jobs’ survey shows that 14.5 percent of women in India said that being a doctor, nurse or emergency medical technician was a dream job for them as a child. A close second to the highest aspiration of wanting to become a teacher at 16.1 percent. Most of the men on the other hand, responded that becoming an engineer was their dream job in their childhood (18.1%).
We all know that to do something well you have to like it. The idea is not exactly novel, but then again since I found something interesting, it meant that I liked it. But I do I know that I’m not the only one who’s not doing what I’d dreamt of as a child. Interestingly though, a significant 30.3% of the LinkedIn members surveyed either pursue their childhood dream job or take up in a career related to it. Another similar survey conducted by the Centre for Longitudinal Studies, part of the Institute for Education in UK, provided the insight that there is definitely an observable link between what people are aspiring to do when they are 11 years old and what they end up doing when they are older.
So what exactly are those influencers that make us choose or change our dreamt-of line of work?
• The DNA Docket – Often we are victims of parental aspirations. I am reminded of that scene from Three Idiots when the father of one of the three protagonists declares in the hospital itself that his son, who mind you is only a few minutes old, will be an engineer! Research using data from the thousands of individuals in the 1958 Birth Cohort Study, by Professor Ingrid Schoon, confirms that parental aspirations and involvement with their children's education is critical and has a lasting impact on an individual’s academic attainment.
• The Creative Kick – Many in the field of arts believe that they always had a flair for doing what they do and that they are able to perform best when they are not trying too hard. The essence of being in this field lies in being natural because you really are doing what you love and it comes from within. Says Judy Balan, the celebrated author of ‘Two Fates’ who followed her creative interest, “I was broke, having quit my job to be with my daughter who was a toddler then, divorced and had no clue what my next step was going to be. So I started writing because it was the only thing that gave me joy at the time. Sometimes, you have to lose everything to get a sense of what you really want.”
• The Secured Confusion – Another category is of those people who feel that there is a constant need to know what they want, because it evolves so often. Most in this lot know they’re running but not exactly what for. The study at the Centre for Longitudinal Studies states that between the ages of 33 and 42, about four in 10 of those in the 1958 cohort shifted from one type of occupation to another. I myself am a living example – far from the medical profession that I wanted to join as a child but still happy with my work since it helps me dabble and use the grey cells all the time!
• The Love Story –The most important of all these influencers, I believe, is one’s primary interest in the activity pursued. In support of this, the LinkedIn survey also points out that 70 percent of the 8,000 respondents across the globe feel that the most important characteristic of a dream job was 'taking pleasure in the work', followed by helping others (8%) and a high salary (6%). The prophecy here is that if you’re good at something you love to do, and help others, and find a voice, and become valuable — you become an expert at what you feel good about being involved with. This could be something you incidentally found interesting or even something that you’ve learnt.
There are pros and cons to each of the above-mentioned curators of the career path. But the fact remains that dreaming a little helps one imagine far beyond. It might not always be possible to achieve that one childhood dream, because of multiple interests and challenges that an individual encounters while growing up, but it is definitely possible. Besides, nurturing an interest or a dream all the way to a point when one can choose to make it a career is challenging too.
In the end, it is about that sense of achievement and the satisfaction that comes from doing what one has chosen to do. This may or may not be your childhood interest though. And for the confused lot, as Leo Babauta of zenhabits.com puts it on his blog, “If you don’t know what you love, don’t worry. There’s no need to figure that out right away. Try something that someone else is doing and see if you think it’s fun. The real fun part comes when you start to get good at it and enjoy the learning, then enjoy being good at it!”