Pamela Slim’s book, Escape from Cubicle Nation, will be available at the end of this month. It’s a really good book about starting your business — something most corporate denizens will need to do, whether they want to or not.
Today Pam wrote an article for the New York Times career section. She writes that many (perhaps most) people have a hidden career dream, a fantasy that they probably don’t expect to materialize. Her pharmacist wants to be a poet, for instance. A musician wants to be a button-down management consultant.
I’ve had my own fantasies over the years. When I traveled a lot (pre 9/11), I envied the guys who held the lights that guided the planes into position at the gates. I also thought it would be fun to be a baggage loader. All those airline travel benefits and minimal hassle.
Realistically I knew I didn’t want to do those things. And most of the people Slim writes about probably don’t either. Here’s what I think a career dream means.
First, when you’re feeling restless and dissatisfied with your own career, you’re more likely to start fantasizing about improbable changes. It doesn’t mean you want those changes. It means you want to deal with something that’s not working in your current career.
Second, most of us fantasize about careers we know little about. I rarely fantasize about teaching kindergarten or high school because I’ve talked to people who actually do those things. I’ve met kids that age. My stomach twists when I think about those careers.
Finally, career dreams can be a false signal. When you start dreaming about a new career, you might really want a new relationship or a new place to live. Conversely when you get restless and feel like moving, maybe you’re really after a career change.