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When I grow up I want to be…

An Olympian. No, an astronaut. Or maybe even Bruce Lee.

I’m sure when you were growing up your list of preferred careers was as adventurous, ambitious and exciting as mine was. For those of us who didn’t turn out to be the next Jessica Ennis or Neil Armstrong, at some point our career choices probably got a little more sensible. Some of us decided early on to be doctors, musicians or deep-sea divers. For lots of us, we never actually decided on one thing.

This is fine in itself but it does create some challenges. At some point after (school, college, university – delete as applicable!) we all drop off the childhood conveyor belt and enter into the “real world”. We’re then confronted with many paths, which are often poorly lit, bumpy and riddled with blind corners. Directions aren’t always obvious and sometimes appear to be written in a foreign tongue!

In the above metaphor, the paths represent potential career choices and, first-time round, the majority of people don’t quite nail it. Sometimes you won’t even nail it the second time. Or the third time.

As for me, it took me less than a week to realise that my first “real world” job wasn’t for me, but it took me over two years to quit.

I told myself (and others) that it was good experience, that it paid well and that it was a fun environment. All true, but the reality is that what really kept me there was fear. Fear that if I quit I could make the same mistake again, fear that no matter where I moved, the grass would always seem greener and fear that I couldn’t leave until I had a clear idea of what I wanted to do.

At this point I could say that I eventually realised that life is too short – but actually, it was the realisation that life is too long which acted as my catalyst, too long to do something which doesn’t satisfy you.

By the time most of us get to retirement, the age will likely be closer to 90 than 50, and it dawned on me what an opportunity this gives us. Not so long ago, people used to have a career for life – whereas we have the good fortune to be able to follow lots of different careers and paths. Staying put in a job you don’t want to do is unlikely to help you find something you do want to do.

It is also highly unlikely that each and every decision you make along the way will be the best one you could have made – but so what! Don’t be afraid of making another wrong-turn down a path which leads nowhere; think of it as a process of elimination. Each time you cross something off, you are one step closer to a job you really want.

I left my job two months ago. It was (and still is) a scary decision to make – but it was also a really exciting opportunity to try something new.

If my experience sounds anything like your own, but fear is still holding you back, and whether you’re 18 or 80, remember life is too long! Go on, take a risk and try something new! You never know, you might like it…

When I grow up I still want to be an astronaut, but until then I am giving a few things a go. Maybe it’s time you did too…

Guest blog by Austin Jepsen.

If, like Austin, you have come to the realisation that you need to try to ‘Find a Job you’ll Love’, you may be interested to know that the ‘I Am Group’ is running a workshop with ‘Life Coach of the Year’, Charlotta Hughes. Places are strictly limited, on a ‘first-come, first-served’ basis – details can be found here.

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