Most of us hesitate to share our deepest, most inspired career desires out loud.
It makes sense. Sharing what we want is risky.
- We risk failure: “What if I tell someone I want to be X, and then it never works out? I’ll feel like a total flop.”
- We risk rejection: “What if I say it out loud and people laugh, or tell me it’s not possible or that I’m not good enough?”
- We risk our identity: “Everyone knows me as X. So I’d better be 100% sure of what I want before I start telling people about it.”
- We risk our time and energy: “Once I say it out loud, it would sure take a lot of work to follow through and make it happen…”
Yes, this may sound a little airy fairy...
But let me bring it down to Earth and share some concrete, true stories from my clients:
Jenny has been a nurse for ten years, and she recently started studying nutrition on the side. It’s a personal passion of hers, one she’s dreamed about making her full time job.
But every time Jenny thinks about taking the leap, she’s plagued by fear and doubt: Could she leave her stable job for a less established profession? Would anyone consider hiring her without any professional experience on her resume? And is that really what she wants?
So she’s been sitting on her passion, twiddling her thumbs, for months.
Until one day last week, she was so fed up with her current job -- and so energized by what she’s learning outside of work -- she decided to stop being so guarded, and to start telling people what truly excites her.
People like her dentist (yes, her dentist!)
After her annual checkup, Jenny started chatting with the office manager. Jenny mentioned that she’s a nurse, but that her real dream is to combine her nursing and nutrition expertise at a holistic health clinic.
Out of nowhere, the manager asked if she could take Jenny out for coffee. She has her own plans for expanding her dental office to include nutritional counseling… and maybe Jenny’s the perfect person to help her do it.
Flash forward a few days, Jenny had coffee with the office manager, and left with a job offer in hand! And not just a job offer -- she also left with stronger confidence in her desire to change professions, and affirmation that her dream is not only possible, but within reach.
Here's another one of my favorites:
Andy was interested in leaving his job in finance to work at a technology company. He found the perfect job posting at one of his dream companies, but sadly saw that the deadline to apply had passed a few weeks earlier.
Andy was full of self-doubt -- he was already coming to the table without technology sector experience, and he had missed the deadline. What were the chances they’d even be interested in him and hiring for a similar role anytime soon?
But he said to himself, “What do I have to lose?” and decided to reach out to a former colleague who now worked at the company.
Andy told him he knew the position had been filled, but that he was interested in the team’s future growth and what he could do to become their perfect candidate.
Andy’s former colleague replied that coincidentally his team was preparing to re-open the position (none of the candidates had excited the team enough)! And he offered to bring Andy in for an interview.
Andy went from being a distant possibility to being the first candidate in the door, all because he took a chance and put what he wanted out there.
I have hundreds of these stories -- from my clients’ experiences and my own life.
It’s how I started my career coaching business. One night over dinner, I said to my man-friend (now-husband), “Maybe I should launch my own coaching business. Could I do that?”
The next week, I was taking on my first official clients, starting to develop my curriculum, and building out the bare bones of my website.
Two years later, I'm leading a company that inspires me, and helping phenomenal professionals achieve their career dreams every day.
And I’m convinced that had I let my inner critic do all the talking that night, instead of speaking my dream out loud, it may never have happened.
It's that simple!
Yes, you should think twice before sharing with your boss (some risks aren’t worth taking until you’re certain of what you want and how you plan to achieve it).
And yes, it’s possible that you share a dream out loud and then realize you don’t actually want it (efficient learning!).
In which case, just call ‘take-backsies’ and move on.
You’re allowed more than one dream in this world.
You’re allowed to fail, over and over again, allowed to change course and iterate as you go.
These are the prerequisites to building a life you love -- a life that’s truly dreamworthy.
One thing is certain: if you don’t say a dream out loud, it’ll never happen.
So start sharing those dreams.
Share them at the lunch table, the checkout counter, your family reunion this summer, with your friends and airplane seat-mates.
Once you say them out loud, you’ll become evermore convinced and committed to what you want.
You’ll find support, affirmation, learning, and connections to help you along your way.
You’ll start envisioning yourself achieving what you want, and head down the path to turning that tiny little wondering into your reality.
Have your own story about a dream you shared that then came true?
Please, please, share it in the comments!
The more stories we share, the more emboldened we and others will feel to say our dreams out loud -- and let the universe get to work.