Drooling over career daydream? Try it on!

Q. The last few years have been really hard in my industry. I find myself increasingly daydreaming about opening a surf shop on some distant tropical island or a restaurant anywhere but here. My friends tell me I'm having a mid-career crisis. Is there any way to check out daydreams to see if they are ridiculous fantasies or possible careers?

A. Yes, what I tell my clients who are considering far-flung dreams is to consider "borrowing" the career they fantasize about. "Borrowing" means do the research to find out who in the world is actually doing this career. Then, on your next vacation, go hang out with the people who are doing what you think would be your perfect life.

When we daydream about a possible career, the trouble is we never get to experience it up close and personal. Compare it to this scenario: You walk by a store window every day and see what you believe is the perfect coat, but you know you can't afford it. So you continue to walk by, drooling over the coat, and fantasizing about how wonderful it would be to own it.

What many of us wouldn't do is walk into the store and try on the coat, regardless of whether we can afford it. However, if we were to try it on, many of us would discover the coat is the wrong color or wrong cut for us. Without trying it on, we might years feeling deprived when in reality the coat doesn't fit us or our lifestyle.

When we fantasize about new career, we can't smell, taste, hear or otherwise experience the potential downside. Especially when we are stressed or frustrated at our current job, our fantasy job looks better and better. If we believe we can't "afford" to change into the career we dream about, we'll never try it on and discover the reality behind the ideal.

You simply cannot know how you would feel about a big change in your career if you don't give yourself a chance to live it. Vacations are a perfect time to try on fantasy careers because you don't have to give up your current work to find out what you think about running a surf shop.

Many clients of mine have used this "borrow a career" technique with surprising results. Most have discovered that small details like the sand fleas at the beach dissuaded them from an idea like a surf shop.

However, even if the sand fleas make you reconsider your original idea, "borrowing a career" still pays dividends. At the very least, you'll come back to your current job with renewed enthusiasm and appreciation. At the most, you may decide to make sure your surf shop is in the middle of town and nowhere near those biting pests.

Since you have nothing to lose and everything to gain by exploring your dreams on your next vacation, start your research now. Life is too short to limit yourself to staring into windows of what "might have been."

The last word(s)

Q. I have a coworker who feels compelled to constantly tell me the bad things other people say about me. Can I get her to stop?

A. Yes, tell her you don't want to put her in the awkward position of having you go back to these people to let them know she is concerned about what they are saying about you. She'll realize she can't continue to upset you without putting her own reputation at risk.

(Daneen Skube, Ph.D., executive coach, trainer, therapist and speaker, also appears as the FOX Channel's "Workplace Guru" each Monday morning. She's the author of "Interpersonal Edge: Breakthrough Tools for Talking to Anyone, Anywhere, About Anything" (Hay House, 2006). You can contact Dr. Skube at http://www.interpersonaledge.com or 1420 NW Gilman Blvd., #2845, Issaquah, WA 98027. Sorry, no personal replies.)

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