Childhood Dreams Can Bring Your Grown-up Ambitions to Life, Here’s How!

Shira Miller, Age 10: Dreaming About Becoming an Astronaut

What was your dream career as a child?

I was an earnest, slightly goofy kid obsessed with outer space, so bet you can guess my answer. My love affair with all things cosmos was sparked by a clay model of the solar system I made for a third-grade science project back when Pluto was still part of the club. I loved visiting our local planetarium in Columbia, South Carolina and the original Star Wars movie filled me with awe. When people asked what I planned to do when I grew up, my 10-year-old self proudly proclaimed, “a space engineer,” which would somehow involve designing groovy rocket ships and then being the astronaut to pilot them.

As you have probably deduced, I didn’t become an astronaut. The advent of eighth grade math killed that dream. I’m still delighted by the notion of space travel and if Sir Richard Branson or Jeff Bezos offered me a free seat on a short galactic boondoggle, the answer would be a huge YES.

However, I never stopped imagining what was possible. That love for outer space grew into a larger desire for exploration of the world itself, for storytelling via speaking and writing, and for helping others activate their full potential. In my own way, I began reaching for the stars.

That’s what I wanted to focus on today. How what formed your childhood career goals can still be used as “rocket-fuel” (you know I had to go for that pun) in your professional and personal life.

Here’s a quick 3-step process to do just that:

Step One: Delve into what excited you the most about that childhood dream.

Was it the chance to help others, to innovate, to be the best in your field or be famous? Take a moment to answer these questions:

What did you want to be when you were growing up? If multiple roles pop up, which one were you most excited about at the time – and still makes you smile today recalling it?

What thrilled you about that aspiration? Write down everything that comes to mind.

Step Two: Examine your current circumstances.

On a scale of 1-10, where 10 is “completely awesome and 1 is “this really sucks,” where would you rate your career? How about your personal life? Here is my version of a Wheel of Life exercise if you’d like to go into more depth about all aspects of your world.

After you assign a general score, narrow it down into why it deserves that number. What would you like to change? How can things get better? If the score is already high, what would take it up another notch?

Step Three: Inject the essence of your childhood aspirations today.

Go back to what thrilled you the most about that career goal. For example, let’s say you were filled with altruism as a kid and wanted to make the world a better place by being a teacher or a social worker. Years later you took a detour and became a financial analyst. Today you excel at your job but find yourself wondering in odd moments if something is missing from the overall picture.

It could be time to recapture that joy by being of service to others. That could take shape at work by mentoring younger employees, volunteering for new assignments that let you teach financial principles to other departments or starting a special interest group at work for others that share your interests. Or it might mean shaking things up outside of your job by donating your time or resources to a cause you deeply believe in.

How does your childhood dream job impact the person you are today?  If you do this exercise, please let me know how it went for you.

Leave a Comment