Pinpointing Dream Job #328

Once upon a time, I wanted to be a ballerina. I loved the tutus, the leg warmers, and the ’80s dance movies. After a few months of ballet lessons, however, in which I was subjected to an itchy flower costume and an inordinate number of bourrés, it was clear that the American Ballet Academy was not in my future. (I still love the tutus. And the ’80s dance movies.)

In Test-Drive Your Dream Job, Brian Kurth wrote of the fears inherent in throwing yourself into a new career. “What if I pursue the ‘real me’ and then I don’t like it?” he wrote. “Or, scariest of all, what if I pursue the ‘real me’ and then I fail?” A valid fear, but I’ve found that acknowledging the fact that career goals and dream jobs change–and understanding that this is perfectly normal and okay–somehow makes those small leaps less scary.

Over the course of my life, I’ve wanted to be a:

  • ballerina
  • actress
  • archaeologist
  • author
  • singer
  • psychologist
  • columnist
  • personal essayist
  • book editor
  • magazine editor
  • freelance writer
  • blogger
  • career coach

On some level, I’ve made a bunch of these things come true. And those experiences were awesome. For a time. It’s just that, at some point, they didn’t fit anymore.

And that’s okay.

Right now, I’m an associate editor for a web magazine, a writer, a copy editor, and a career coach.

Anyone want to place bets on how different this list will look in just a year?

How many times have your “ultimate goals” changed over the course of your career?

Related: Wanted: The Career Equivalent of an Open Marriage, My 5 Favorite Things In: One Person/Multiple Careers, How To Juggle Multiple Careers


  1. I love this! I was a commercial video editor, film editor, copy writer, and travel writer – all paid. Have 4 guidebooks out, or coming out. Now I’m a Multimedia Director at a marketing company and get to play with video, write, work on social networking, and project manage.

    My career goals have all looked very different in life, but are always grounded in creating, communicating, and connecting. The job is just the vehicle to get there.

  2. I worked as personal assistant to two writers, both fairly famous. I fell into the first job, when a friend tipped me off, in Paris. I wanted to work for the second writer, but the job was murder. She even checked the trash can to see whether I was doing my own work on her time.

    My all-time favorite job was talk-show host, in Paris. I fell into that one because I had written lyrics for a neighbor/musician.

    Now I’m an innkeeper. I’m good at it, but what I really want to be is a successful writer ….

  3. I guess I’ve always been a writer to some degree. That’s the constant. But I’ve thought about giving it up many times. I went back to school to be a massage therapist, but then never actually started a business. I got certified to teach yoga and I dabbled in teaching it. I started to learn sign language, thinking I would be an interpreter. I thought about going back to school to be a registered dietitian, but decided against it.

    In the end, all that matters is that the journey satisfies, I believe.

  4. I started out college as a biopsychology major hoping to be a neurologist/neuroscientist. Then I switched halfway through freshman year to civil engineering and worked as a civil engineer for two years after graduating. Then, I switched and became a software engineer and hope to be an entrepreneur doing freelancing or consulting in the future. This doesn’t include the list of about 12 things I wanted to be (at the same time) as a kid.

    On a side note, I love this blog!

  5. I love reading about all of your crazy-busy life paths. When you see it all laid out there before you, doesn’t it become even more obvious how rich your life has been?

    I think that’s why I love writing in general. It allows me the means to explore other activities and life paths. After writing about sex parties, I became involved in NY’s sex-positive community. After mapping out my NJ wine tour, Michael and I talked about having our own winery someday, and even took a series of winemaking classes. When I was doing a piece on fun workouts for couples, Michael and I ended up taking salsa dancing lessons. Here’s to living life!

  6. @Cindy: p.s. Thank you so much!


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