Monday, March 19, 2012

Projecting Your Future: What's Your Dream Job?

Image by Victor Habbick
I did a Teaching Abroad workshop a couple of months ago for McGill University's Faculty of Education.  I asked 40 student-teachers what they would do if money was no object.  What was their dream job so to speak?  Their responses came in something like this...

I'd like to start a new school for underpriveledged kids in a developing country.

I'd like to teach. I don't really care where. I just want to teach.

I want to teach somewhere tropical and warm.

I'd like to be a billionaire and not have a job actually.

My dream job is to work at Disneyland (she said shyly).

I want to become a school principal.
And so on and so forth.  The point I wanted to get across is that none of their dream jobs were actually dreams.  They were practical and realistic goals.  Nobody said they wanted to become the next great astronaut without any training whatsoever.  Nobody said they wanted to cure cancer in a week.  Nobody said they wanted to become the world's greatest teacher.  They just want to teach.  Have a good teaching job, maybe become a principal and maybe start their own schools one day. 

Now, I try to ask the same question in the interviews I give to teachers who want to work in London, England.  I ask "Where do you see yourself in 5 years time in terms of your career?"  The reason I ask this is 2 fold: to see if the teacher has really thought their career goals through and also to see if they actually want to be a teacher in the long run. 

We all know the statistic that gets thrown around in Canada: 50% of new teachers stop teaching within the first 5 years of graduating with a B.Ed.  I suppose I'm one of them as I don't teach in a traditional school setting anymore, but instead teach workshops, webinars & seminars to new student-teachers.  

But the point is this:  If you don't know what your dream job is, you'll never actually get it.

I'm not talking specifics here. I'm talking about asking yourself what it would feel like to wake up in the morning excited to go to work. What would it feel like to love your job?  What does that look like in your minds eye?  More often than not, we try to picture jobs that already exist & put ourselves into that picture.  And that's awesome - if it works.  But I would say that imagining the feeling of having that awesome job is way better than trying to picture that perfect job itself.  That way, when you get the feeling, you know you've got it.

Let's look at my life as an example. In 2004 I thought teaching in inner city London was my absolute dream job.  And for a while, it was.  I was doing exactly what I said I wanted to do only a year before.  But now I'm an entrepreneur -- in starting Classroom Canada, I learned that my dream job was actually to work with new & experienced teachers and help them teach in England.  I still love teaching, but in actual fact, I think I'm better at recruiting teachers, giving workshops & writing blogs & ebooks than I am in teaching every day in a primary school. I'm happier.  And therefore a better teacher.

But now, I'm not just an entrepreneur. I'm also a movie producer, which really...I stumbled into.  A few years ago I went on a personal development cruise that asked the question, "What's your dream job?" My answer evolved & changed, but eventually became, "A job in which I am creative, working with family & taking risks while dreaming big."

Last year, my sister & I filmed our first movie about a high school garage band on the verge of breaking up that gets locked in their garage for a day, called incidentally, Locked In A Garage Band.  Is it creative? Absolutely.  Am I working with my family? Well, my sister wrote & directed it, our brother is composing the musical score, one of our cousins designed the movie poster and another cousin is designing the t-shirts.  I'm definitely taking risks (there is no greater financial risk than movies, but also of course the risk that our movie will suck - which it won't, but still...there are an awful lot of terrible movies out there right?).  In terms of dreaming big, I dream of walking along the red carpet at a big international festival, giving a speech to say thanks for some award (you know the one right? C'mon, I know you know it), and all along laughing with our incredible team.

The thing is - I would never have become a movie producer if it weren't for the success I found with Classroom Canada. And I couldn't have started a teacher recruitment company without first teaching in London myself.  So the question, "What's your dream job?" is better answered with a general statement than a specific answer.  Who knows what you'll be doing in 5 years time?  I certainly didn't know I'd be producing movies today, nor do I know where I'll be in 5 years from now.  But I do know that my work will be creative, fulfilling & surrounded by laughter & joy.  Do you see the difference?  By leaving out the specifics, I'm able to focus on the general end results & really, help myself actually get there.  I think the best part is that our dream jobs change as we change.  Humans are incredible that way.  We reach one goal and can't stop there.  We have to keep going.  Changing, evolving & improving.

So, what's your dream job? 

Resources for Teaching in London
Classroom Canada
Guide to Teaching in London: A Survival Guide for Canadians ebook
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Thanks for sharing your two pence!


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