The Internet is the place to start your research into your dream job, but it’s not the place to start your research, but it’s not the place to finish. If you only the Web, you’ll end up with stacks and stacks of material and a decent theoretical knowledge of the industry but there will be a lot you won’t learn. You won’t learn much about the pragmatic, human side of the business. What are the people like who work in that field? What has their experience been? How is this career as a lifestyle? How much do they really spend and earn? How long did it really take them to be up and running. Unfortunately, unless you’re incredibly gregarious and fearless, contacting real people is harder than just sitting in your house and scrolling, especially if you feel as if you are asking a favor. But meeting your rolemodels will give you a much more accurate picture of your dream field.
How do you contact complete strangers and tell them you want to learn about their field?
- Start by making a list of questions you want to ask them. You won’t get to ask all those questions in a single phone call, email or visit, but listing them will help you organize your thoughts.
- Prioritize your questions. You want to ask your important questions first; you don’t know how long you’ll get to talk.
- Go back to your research and pick out five or six people you’re going to contact. It doesn’t matter who or where they are; they can be people who are doing exactly what you want to do, or simply people who are knowledgeable about the industry and they can be in your own city or anywhere in the world. Ultimately you’ll reach out to many more; these are just to get you started. Having a target five or six will ensure that you don’t quit if the first one is unresponsive.
- When you have contacted someone in your dream job, be sure to ask your contact who else you should talk to. Who else does he/she know who might be helpful to you.
You will be surprised at how fast the contacts and ideas build up. Each contact will lead to others and will suggest ideas you had not thought of, and soon your desk will be cluttered with notes and folders. It won’t be long before your questions become more targeted, and you find yourself actually enjoying the process.
How do you know when you’ve done enough research? There is no hard-and-fast rule. Some people love researching and won’t stop ever. Others just want to jump in and get in action with their dream business. Both are fine. You will do more research after your testdrive. For now, the time to stop is when you know enough that you just can’t wait to move on to the next step, contacting potential mentors.
If you’re not getting to that point – if you reached ‘analysis paralysis’ and, despite information overload, are still resisting shopping for a mentor – perhaps there’s something else going on beyond a need for more data. It’s likely that you’re afraid. If that is the case go back to the step about ‘Fear’ and rewrite your story about it. Addressing that fear head on will probable free you to move forward.
Or it is possible that your resistance holds another message: maybe the career you’re researching is not your dream career after all. That can create its own form of paralysis. How can you walk away from that career after all the time and energy you’ve already invested? What will your friends, family and associates think after everything you have told them? And if that isn’t your dream career, what is? There’s comfort in knowing what we want to do with our lives, in sensing what the next chapter holds, and releasing that comfort can be scarier than never having a dream to begin with. No wonder we feel paralyzed if research shows us that our ‘dream career’ isn’t.
If that is the case, try to relax and accept it. Another dream will come – just as this one did – but it can’t come until you release the old one. In fact, having had this dream sets you up perfectly for finding the next one. You’ve already done the hard work of relinquishing the hold of the status quo. You had the courage to publicize a dream. Who says the first dream has to be the ‘real’ dream? Dream job seeking is a process. It isn’t linear, it isn’t left brained. It is a circuitous path of back and forth, left and right, exploring options. The goal isn’t to do or become a certain thing; it’s to find out who you are and what kind of work meshes with your deepest self. If you’ve gotten to the point where you’ve had a dream and learned through research that it isn’t the proper fit, you have taken a giant leap in self – knowledge. You are primed to pursue your next idea. Relax and it will come.
What Can I Expect?
Here’s an outline of The Heroine’s Journey in Paris: Testdrive your Dreamjob
- In the Footsteps of Julia Child
- Just Do It
- The Search for Mentors
- Questions to Ask
- Telling Your Story
- Finding the Right Mentor
- A Mentor of Your Own
- Doing the Testdrive
- Questions for the Mentor
- Choose a Cheerleader
- Should I Hire a Coach?
- Listening with your Heart
- Evaluating the Testdrive
- Not Your Dream Job After All?
Your Travel Guide
Story teller Peter de Kuster is the founder of The Heroine’s Journey en The Hero’s Journey and an accomplished speaker worldwide. His books and stories about the Hero’s Journey – making money doing what you love – have reached millions of creative professionals worldwide in the last decennium.