By Brian Kurth, for Yahoo! HotJobs
Identifying your dream job and the path that will take you there is both a challenge and an opportunity. But by following a realistic step-by-step "vocationing" process (outlined below), you can pursue your interests and passions to the job of your dreams.
1. Define Your Dream Job(s)
What are your passions and your interests? What activities give you a sense of purpose and satisfaction? Can you envision yourself in a job that fully engages your heart and your mind? You may still be trying to figure out what you want to be when you grow up. That's OK. This eight-step process gives you the opportunity to explore, experiment and discover what your dream job is and how to pursue it.
2. Address Your Fears
Financial instability, family disruption, giving up an identity, failing at something new -- these are all fears that may stand in the way of pursuing your dream job. The biggest thing you can do to get past these fears is to meet them head-on. Bring these deepest fears to light and examine them with reason. Talk about them, and play each one out to its most irrational end. What is the worst thing that could happen?
3. Do Your Research
Internal and external research helps you discover who you are and what kind of work meshes with your deepest self. Do your homework and access career resources ranging from the Internet to one-on-one contact with people on-the-job to determine if what you think is your dream job truly is your dream job.
4. Find a Mentor
Inspirational, experienced, realistic, forthcoming and optimistic -- a good mentor is all of these things and eager to help someone else get started. Recruiting a mentor who is a good match for you requires following a plan of action, asking the right questions and building a mutually satisfying relationship. Having a mentor is the crux to the vocationing process. Whether you're 20-something, 30-something or even 60-something, you need a mentor.
5. Test-Drive Your Dream Job
There's no better way to learn than by doing. Test-driving your dream job with a mentor provides a hands-on experience that has the potential to change your life. This is the opportunity to learn as much as possible about the job, how you feel about the day-to-day activities and what it takes to succeed. Whether your mentorship proves your perceived dream job is indeed your dream job, or if it is a reality check illuminating that the job is not the one of your dreams, the mentorship experience gives you the required personal and professional due diligence you need prior to making a career decision.
6. Create an Action Plan
Pursuing a dream job is less a leap than a series of incremental steps that move you closer to your goal. What is critical to reaching that goal is making sure the steps you follow are the right ones. An action plan is needed. If you make a list of all the things you need to learn and do in order to realize your dream job, you will have mapped out a plan for moving ahead. A knowledgeable action plan provides you with the power to forge ahead.
7. Establish Thresholds
The biggest reason we pursue our dream job is to increase our life satisfaction. It is important to understand how much risk, challenge and uncertainty you can tolerate before the life-satisfaction goal becomes blurred by the process. The vocationing process is as much about what you learn on the journey as the rewards when you reach your destination.
8. Think Big, Start Small
You don't have to quit your 9-to-5 job to pursue your dream job. Obligations and concerns may take you down a less-than-direct path. It may take months, not weeks or years, not months. If you are patient and creative, you can keep your career transition moving forward.
[Brian Kurth is the founder of VocationVacations and the author of Test-Drive Your Dream Job.]