You might have heard some statement or seen a quote like this.
If you can imagine it–you can do it.
This concept is good for helping people open up their thinking to new goals or careers. On the other hand, the fact that you can imagine yourself as president of the US or the first astronaut to Mars or the winner of American Idol, doesn’t mean that you will succeed or even that you are best off pursuing those goals.
But the other side of this statement is something everyone needs to remember
If you can’t imagine it, you’ll never do it.
That’s much more reliably true. If you can’t imagine yourself owning your own business or becoming an engineer–then you almost certainly will not pursue these careers at all.
With both of these statements in mind, I have my classes and career coaching clients imagine as specifically and concretely as possible what their ideal careers might look like. This exercise is great as a thought experiment (if thought experiments were good enough for Einstein, why not you and me?), so that you can actually try out a number of career scenarios. Not only does it help you imagine something so it can become real. It also allows you to safely “test” how much you really want to pursue each career you test.
Here’s what you do:
- Choose any new, great career or work situation you might like to consider
- Imagine you just completed a typical work day
- Go through what you did and jot it down in detail as if recording a day log at the end of your day, hour by hour (or more frequently).
- Be specific–9–945 am, had meeting with my business partner about how to approach a new client’s problem of xxx (whatever problem a client of yours might have).
- Go through the entire day in this kind of detail.
If you’re not sure what a person might do in your imagined new career, go do some informational interviews first with people in the field or read about the career. Find out what the daily work life is like because some careers sound glamorous but be filled with activities you don’t want to do.
Write a few such days for each imagined career and maybe some days for alternative careers or jobs to see what each looks and feels like.
Very important–it does not have to be your ideal day, only a typical day in a potentially idea career.
Then, the most important step–reread what you wrote and ask yourself: If this was an actual typical day in my life, how would I feel about it, about my career, about myself? This gut-check portion is a great test. Very often, my clients or class members will come up with a day that makes them smile, but when asked if the day would be something they were happy with if it became real right now–they start coming up with fears, doubts, and changes.
That’s a GOOD thing. That’s how you can then reshape the day to be more perfect.
If a fear comes up, identify it. That may tell you what’s been holding you back in pursuing this imagined career or job.
As simple as this exercise is, it can be one of the most powerful as it so fully engages all of your senses and thoughts and desires if you let yourself really do it without holding back because it’s not realistic or what others think you could do.
It’s fast, fun, and can offer fantastic insights. Why not give it a try or two.