Which of your childhood dreams came true?
Astronaut, model, police officer, cook, shoe seller, jet pilot, sometimes even Federal Chancellor - everyone has jobs that they dreamed of when they were young. Even if very few of them realized their childhood dreams and sometimes even smile at them in retrospect, they are still valuable treasures that can help to find more fulfillment in the job. "The story of every person naturally begins in childhood," explains the Munich career advisor and graduate psychologist Madeleine Leitner. "That is why childhood dreams in particular offer valuable help when it comes to finding out why people today are professionally dissatisfied. They even help with career planning."
Wild guys, sad reality
Dream jobs from childhood often clarify the problem in today's reality in astonishing way: A good family man who obediently assists his dominant superior in his job as a child actually always wanted to be a robber baron and, in contrast to today, was actually a "wild guy". Or: A manager involved in fierce power struggles in management was already convinced as a child that her name would one day be on a high-rise. A middle management employee who had been sidelined for work wanted to become a sailor as a child, but had already realized at the time that only captains really had something to say.
Even children have a personality with likes and dislikes. However, in the course of their lives, many people lose their core essence for various reasons, as the psychologist knows from her experience in advising people in situations of upheaval professional life. "When we work together, memories of earlier dream jobs in childhood often provide valuable information about the proverbial core: Who am I actually? What do I really enjoy, what brings me fulfillment?"
Know the causes, initiate changes
However, Leitner warns against drawing too quick and superficial conclusions when interpreting the ideas. Dream jobs can be based on very different ideas and motivations. A pilot can bring tourists to their holiday destination and make them happy, he can fight evil as a fighter pilot or develop creative show flights as an aerobatic pilot. A forester can do something good for plants and nature, steal prey or turn the forest into a model of economic success. Above all, a doctor may want to help people, but also see prestige and wealth as motivation or just be a perfect craftsman in his specialty.
The American author John Holland distinguished six different motives with which one can categorize people's idea of their dream jobs:
R (ealistic): work physically
I (investigative): analyze
A (rtistic): be creative
S (ocial): help, support
E (nterprising): manage something
C (onventional): manage
These categories turn out to be astonishingly homogeneous, even in the case of a person's previous dream jobs that seem very different at first glance. "If you then compare the resulting pattern with the current activity and the required elements, you can usually see very quickly where the causes of dissatisfaction lie," says Leitner. Typical and particularly problematic combinations are, for example: an "A" - heavy, creative person who does a "C" administrative job. Even an "S" person who primarily wants to help, but is primarily supposed to generate business and sales in their job, is injured in their essence. This is an important key to understanding the need for change.
Fine tuning instead of radical changes
However, the psychologist expressly warns against radical career changes. Fine tuning is often enough. You can often take on more or less responsibility, more or less creativity, administrative or creative activities in your existing job. It depends on the details in order to find more job satisfaction or to be more successful. Even if some people mourn their childhood dreams to this day, they are rarely really relevant. If you consciously compare the idea of your previous dream job with reality, it often leads to disillusionment quickly.
"You should really do that very consciously," advises Leitner. "The worst thing is to spend a lifetime mourning a dream that in reality would have turned out to be a nightmare."
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