Whether helping people as a career coach or a creativity trainer, one of the most common self-limiting ideas I hear—actually it may be the most common—is that a goal, a career, a job, a solution is unrealistic.
And with that one word, all hope is dashed. All creativity also goes out the window—you can almost hear it flying off.
I find the idea of something being unrealistic is one of the most abused terms, often an unconscious excuse to bail out of something due to fear of failure, rather than an honest and full assessment of what can be done. That’s one of the many reasons I start out every brainstorming group and every career client by having them put aside what’s realistic (to them) for starters and have them start imagining what they’d really want to do if they could have what they wanted.
Be Realistic Later Rather Than Sooner
Later, we can see how to make it real and what the real obstacles are. Even then, I work with clients and groups to look creatively for new ways to get past obstacles, rather than just letting ourselves get us stuck, assuming there is no way because we can’t see it right away.
This way of approaching career dreams is simple but critical. You find your big ideas, dreams and wildest ideas first, and then see try every way to make them work out. Tha’s very different from the model most people use—assuming their big ideas are unrealistic from the get-go, based on their limited current thinking.
Some people would respond to this approach by telling stories about how reality has knocked down their plans and big ideas when they were being creative and open minded. That certainly happens at times. But it just tells me that we don’t really know what will happen in advance until we try things out—until we see if we can achieve the apparently unrealistic goal. After all, none of us has a big enough mind to see all the ways things can work out—for better or worse. Since there are always unknowns, it’s best to creatively work towards your goals and see what arises that might help you that’s unknown than to assume things won’t work. As they say in baseball, “that’s why we play the game.”
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© 2009 Leonard Lang. Feel free to reprint or pass on this article as long as you include the copyright notice and the hotlink to http://choosingacareerblog.com