Are You Dreaming Too Small?
Kitty Boitnott, Ph.D., NBCT, RScP
Career Transition and Job Search Coach
“The size of your dreams must always exceed your current capacity to achieve them. If your dreams do not scare you, they are not big enough.” ~ Ellen Johnson Sirleaf
Do you consider yourself a dreamer or a realist? I would generally consider myself a realist, but that doesn't mean that I don't have dreams. In fact, as I grow older, it seems that my dreams get bigger rather than smaller.
It hardly seems possible that four years ago this month, I reached out to my first coach to ask for help with my job search. I had started a search in earnest after taking some much needed time off after finishing my stint at the Virginia Education Association. By the time January 2013 rolled around, however, it was time to start looking for employment.
Of course, there was one small, itsy-bitsy problem. I didn't want a 9-5 job. I didn't want a boss who was going to direct my day-to-day activities. I had gotten used to being a boss of sorts myself, and I couldn't think of a job where I might have that kind of responsibility again.
I was stuck. I considered the possibility of going back to teaching, but honestly, I knew that ship had sailed.
I quickly realized that I was grossly overqualified for many jobs that might have interested me. I have two Master's degrees and a Ph.D. That may sound impressive, but it just looks like window dressing on a job application.
So, by the middle of January, I had already come to realize I needed help with my search. That is what led me to hire the coach I engaged. I felt like I had been thrown a life raft! Suddenly, things began to feel orderly again. I had a plan.
As it turned out, I also had a dream that I had not yet realized, much less articulated. The realization that what I really wanted was to be my own boss and run my own business and be in charge of my own schedule didn't come until a few weeks later after the culmination of a series of events that I refer to as "serendipities."
Those "serendipities" added up to the realization that what I really wanted was to start a business where I could help teachers who had felt the burnout I had felt figure out that they had options if they had come to the conclusion that they could no longer teach.
I know teachers. I know them like I know myself. For many of them, they will suffer through years of denial about the toll that their chosen profession is taking on them physically or emotionally.
Each year, they convince themselves that this year will be better.
And sometimes it is.
And then there is the next year which feels like it will never end.
I wrote a post about the cycle that I believe keeps teachers stuck. If you are interested in it, you can take a look at it here.
I share all of this by way of saying that before I came to that point in my life, I had never thought of doing anything other than teaching and being a school librarian outside of my work at the VEA. I wasn't one of those people who grew up wanting to be a teacher, but once I fell into my first librarian job, I was hooked. Being an elementary school librarian or media specialist was the perfect job for me.
But four years ago, I gave myself permission to dream of a different career, and here I am, four years later.
The reason this is all significant is that yesterday, I experienced something of a milestone in my career. If you are already friends with me on Facebook, you heard because I had to share the good news.
I was invited to join the Forbes Coaches Council. Forbes has created a number of non-profit councils for certain industries, and the Coaches Council offers a community of coaches who are in a position to help one another grow their business. I was excited about that opportunity, of course, but what really got me jazzed was that members of the council are invited to write articles for Forbes and to work with an editor who will make sure it is worthy of being published in Forbes. I can hardly wait to get started. I have wanted to write for Forbes for over two years and couldn't figure out how to make it happen.
My other big dream as far as writing goes is to contribute to Huffington Post, and this year, one of my goals for the year is to write a new book on teacher burnout.
You've heard the saying, "go big, or go home." So, let me ask you. What is YOUR dream? What is it that you are putting off until next year or until you retire or until your kids are grown? What dream have you got percolating in my mind or heart that you are too afraid to say anything about because you know someone would rush to tell you "you can't do that."
The purpose of my sharing my story is to let you know that you are never too old. I had just turned 60 when I began my professional transformation. I still teach, but now I teach people how to let themselves dream of alternatives in their lives that they never allowed themselves to dream of before.
My dad died in an accident when he was 63. He always wanted to travel. He wanted to see the Grand Canyon in the worst way. He waited too long.
Life is too short to live one day of it doing something you don't love. This is something I know for sure. It is never too late to start fresh as long as you have breath in your body. The main thing people regret at the end of their lives is the things they didn't do.
So dream big.
Until next time.