• Marisa Donnelly

How To: Turn Your Dream Career into a Reality

ways to take action on your professional goals

When I was younger, my plans for the future were, in this order, to: travel to the moon, become a teacher, and to publish a book. Although these dreams have shifted slightly (as they often do for people) and became a little more realistic in terms of timing and what’s humanly possible, I am now a teacher, tutor, and published author.

Of course, not everyone ends up doing what they imagined they would as a child. Regardless, it is still a powerful driver to have professional dreams and remain set on pursuing them. That, in my opinion, is the fundamental difference between people who wish, and people who do. If you hold onto the mindset that you will do something, accomplish that goal that is meaningful to you, then your life will undoubtedly be better for it.

But getting there can be—and typically is—harder than it looks. If you are determined to make your career aspirations a reality, it all starts with the belief that they are actually possible. Only then can you take the first steps, leaps, and confident sprints in the right direction.

Easier said than done, right? Well, here’s how I learned:

start by telling yourself you can

As was true for many of my fellow millennials, I was continuously told from a young age that I could do anything if I put my mind to it. This perspective was instilled in my mind and has truly changed my life.

However, another trait we have as millennials (and humans) is that we’re so set on fighting ourselves and thinking we aren’t good enough. If we always have that belief, it gets in our way and ends up becoming true. But when we shift away from that perspective and focus on what we know we can do and what we’re capable of, then we begin to grow.

If you have a dream to become a doctor, to own a business, or anything else, you first have to empower yourself to fully affirm it.

learn as much as you can about your industry

The biggest mistake people make in starting their academic, creative, or professional journey and chasing a career goal is not doing enough research. If you jump into something without that ground-level foundation, you will be hit with all kinds of surprises—whether it be related to financials, workload, work-life balance, or not having enough confidence to get you from point A to point B.

Before you do anything, educate yourself. Find out the current and projected salary for your industry or intended job title, and for specific cities. Look into how many people are in your field and whether they’re successful or happy. Check into retention rates for the specific career you desire. Talk to people who are either currently doing what you’re doing or are veterans of the job or company you’re interested in and ask about the ups, downs, and obstacles. If you connect with someone, maybe they can mentor or refer you. Find out what equipment or items you’ll need to purchase to get started, or if you need any further education, and whether you have the means to afford it.

Summed up, get as much information and feedback as you possibly can to make an educated decision and ensure that you are on the best path for you.

be sure to follow legal rules + guidelines

It's absolutely essential to set yourself up for success from the very beginning. If you’re looking to launch a small business, for example, be sure to look into the laws and regulations for your specific state or location. You may be required to officially register your business or pay business taxes in addition to income taxes (especially if you’re a freelancer). There might also be other rules you need to follow in terms of reporting income. This tip also applies to jobs that involve certain accreditations or licenses in order to get hired or legally work. Check for variances in different regions and countries as well. All of this is crucial to avoid issues of liability and financial stress in the future.

start small + focus on what makes you unique

Far too many people look outward rather than inward when it comes to realizing their career dreams. If you want to succeed, you have to stop comparing yourself to everyone else and start focusing on what you, specifically, have to offer.

There will be thousands of amazing managers, photographers, teachers, artists, lawyers, writers, creators, nurses, entrepreneurs, and hard workers out there—but not everyone will have the same vision as you, nor could they even take the exact path to attaining their goals.

Capitalize on what makes you stand out and focus on building a personal brand that honors that.

Don’t be worried about quantifiable milestones or get obsessed with the notion of immediate success in the initial stages. The true mark of a successful career will be the positive experiences, connections made, and your personal growth. It doesn’t matter whether or not you have a “stellar” resume from the start; what really matters is that you’re continually moving forward and taking the necessary steps towards your next big opportunity.

pour passion into every single thing you do

Above everything else, whether or not you are able to turn your perfect career into a reality will depend on how much you time and energy you invest in them—creatively, professionally, and personally. This doesn’t mean that you have to disregard everything else in your life, but it does mean that you devote yourself and your heart to what you do.

That passion is what will ultimately bring success and help you make your career dreams come true.

To read more articles on business and following your dreams, head over to Marisa’s blog.