Chasing your dreams takes courage – courage you may struggle to find when considering making a drastic change after your time in academia. The first step to realizing your potential is acknowledging it, and giving yourself permission to believe you deserve whatever you have the courage to dream.
I’m here to tell you that you not only deserve what you want, but it’s in your reach and you have the power to take it. You just have to change your mindset. The next few weeks, I’m going to be giving you some practical advice on how to move forward.
First, you need to accept and acknowledge what you want. Don’t allow your doubts and fears to deter you from wanting it. I’m going to tell you something that you may have a hard time accepting – the biggest obstacle between you and reaching what you’re dreaming of is you. We don’t acknowledge what we want because we don’t want to be vulnerable. Instead, we think about all the “what if’s” associated with our accomplishing our goal.
- What if I don’t get the interview?
- What if I don’t get a faculty job? Should I still apply, even though the chances of getting an interview are slim?
- Am I prepared to use my skills to develop a side business or make money beyond my faculty position? What if no one actually people purchase my services, art, course, or freelance work once I offer it?
- What if I ask all these people to vote for me in this small business challenge, but I don’t make it to the final round? What’s encouraging about that? (That’s what I asked myself last year before asking you to vote on my video entry for the Start Something small business competition.)
Let go of the doubts and fears, and focus your attention on your goal. Each day allow yourself to visualize actually making it to your goal. Then, take one step towards it.
So for you that may be
Making a call for an informational interview at the company you desire to work at,
Taking a course to prepare for the postacademic job market so you can be prepared for this new world of work and professionalism,
Signing up for that project management course or data science bootcamp to boost your skills,
Calling a mentor to see how to get started with consulting or speaking,
Completing your artwork and offering it a local art fair or putting your work on Amazon.com, or
In my case with the small business competition, create the video (with all it’s imperfections) and ask people to vote.
The truth is you may not actually reach your target goal, but being open to trying can bring new information, contacts, and opportunities. The point is, you’ll never know where you’ll land until you start.
Never forget that the doors to opportunity open much wider than you think they do. I did not win the competition but I did become a finalist, and those relationships helped me to gain more contacts in my state for the professional development workshops and services that I provide. There are many different options that lead to success, the trick is determining which road would bring you the greatest fulfillment, and then finding the courage to acknowledge that dream and take the steps towards realizing it.
Do you have any times in your work or life when you’ve opted to take a big step, even though you weren’t sure how it’d turn out? What helped you move past fear to take the first step?
Don’t let fear of the unknown keep you from knowing your career and life options. Sure the world of work outside of the academy is murky and unclear. But there’s a way to find the answers you need to make an informed choice.