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7 Questions to Help Identify Your Dream Job

stars.jpgAsk any child what he wants to be when he grows up, and he’ll give you an answer from the heart. The child’s answer may be silly, unreasonable, or hopelessly cliché; it will certainly be ill informed, with little hope of realization.  But the answer will be serious to the child, and he’ll expect you to take it seriously too. 

Children want to be a spacemen, cowboys, astronauts, firemen, magicians, ballerinas, and princesses. My 4-year-old niece says she wants to be the Queen of England. Yes, I’m serious, further proof (as if you needed it) that children aren’t the most experienced career strategists.

But children have mastered one part of the job search we adults have forgotten: Passion. To little boys, putting out fires seems brave and dangerous and wicked-cool, as my nephew would have said a few years back. To little girls, dancing on stage as a ballerina seems beautiful, graceful, and awe-inspiring.

As we get older, we stop dreaming; we start choosing careers based on the diminishing options of adulthood instead of the ever-expanding possibilities of imagination.  

If you’re unhappy with your career, tap into that gleeful little kid hiding in the back of your brain, the one who enjoys stomping in mud puddles, drinking orange soda-pop, and watching Saturday morning cartoons.  That younger version of you isn’t very helpful when it comes to paying bills, mowing the lawn, or financing a new house, but he or she is a wonderful trigger point for identifying your dreams.

With that in mind, here are 7 adult versions of the question you were asked so often as a child: What do you want to be when you grow up?

My hope is that reading these questions (and taking time to answer them) will provide some small spark to help you identify a career you’ll truly love.

1) If you knew you could not fail, what career would you pursue?

2) What activities excite you, ignite your passion, and cause you to lose all track of time?

3) What type of work have you always wanted to do?

4) What great thing do you want to contribute to the world?

5) If you were paid to make the world a better place, how would you earn your living?

6) What do you want your professional legacy to be?

7) And my personal favorite: What do you want to create with your life?

These 7 questions are thought starters, nothing more. But with a little introspection, you may be able to craft your answers to these questions into a great passionate compass, guiding you toward fulfillment.

You have a choice: You can choose a career based on the robotic and uninspiring necessities of adulthood without any thought of deeper meaning, or you can dream bigger. You can find a way to have your cake and eat it too.

My simple contention is twofold: You don’t have to sacrifice your dreams to pay the bills; and you cannot reach the pinnacle of happiness, performance, meaning, or purpose without a job you love.


25 Responses to “7 Questions to Help Identify Your Dream Job”

  • Jason says:

    Great article. I like your questions, though not everyone has a particular professional legacy they want to leave… I want to leave a personal legacy, not a professional one. If I leave a professional legacy, it will be a nice addition to what I’m actually focused on, which is helping individuals.

    My name means healer, and that’s what I want to do… I want to help people heal, in my case by writing. Actually, I think I’m going to write a post about that, too… what your name means and whether you identify with it. If I get feedback, that could be very interesting.

  • JohnPlace says:

    I’m glad you liked it, Jason. You’re right, not everyone wants to leave a professional legacy, and there are a hundred other questions I could have asked, each of which would have resonated with certain people and not with others.

  • Peter says:

    Great article John – thought provoking as always.

    I think I see a typo though: “10 adult versions of the question”.

  • JohnPlace says:

    I don’t see it, Peter. Is one of those words spelled incorrectly?

  • Peter says:

    You mention “10 adult versions…” but there are only 7 questions. Am I going crazy? It is possible…… :)

  • JohnPlace says:

    LOL peter, that’s hilarious. That “10” is a product of my first draft. Thanks for pointing that out. I was looking so hard for a grammatical error or misspelling that I completely overlooked the obvious. Fixed.

  • Peter says:

    Haha… you sound a bit like me when I write lists. I often start out with “10 Tips to….. ” and by the end it turns into “7 Life Changing Ideas” or “8 Ways to Make Routine Tasks Interesting.”

  • Jenny says:

    Great post, I really enjoyed it.

  • JohnPlace says:

    Thanks Jenny

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  • Ryan says:

    I just spent an hour on that list… Good grief that’s thought provoking. =) Thanks again for another life-changing article!

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