When I was in second grade, I decided I wanted to be a cryptozoologist – someone who studies animals who are only rumored to exist. You know… like Bigfoot and the Loch Ness Monster. This seemed like as sound as a career option as any, cause those pesky grown ups were always asking about my future.

For a span, whenever anyone asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up I would answer “a cryptozoologist,” alternating with “a teacher” or “a writer,” depending on who I was talking to.

When I started college, I thought I wanted to be a child psychologist. That evolved into a goal of becoming an elementary school teacher, which morphed into a dream of working for a local non-profit centered around community development.

Eventually I got a degree and a “real job” working for a university. By then I figured I could whittle myself a career as an academic advisor or career counselor. It wasn’t until several years of toiling away in the corporate world that this finally clicked for me:

The career ‘dreams’ I’d harbored over the years didn’t quiiiiite fit me. Some did, for a while. But I’d grow out of them, as people do.

Teaching and writing were the only options that always lit me up. But I realized I didn’t want to teach within the constraints of the public school system, and writing seemed like a faraway, head-in-the-clouds type of goal.

I never really allowed myself to fully explore the things I was deeply interested in. I was always grasping at straws, changing my mind about the things I wanted to do in the world and desperately hoping to find an option that I could ride on.

I rarely asked myself “What do I really WANT to do and be? What sounds interesting? What would I like to learn more about? What natural skills and talents do I have, and how can I parlay them into a career?”

Instead, I asked myself “What SHOULD I do and be? What career goal can I cling on to in order to satisfy everyone asking me what I want to be? What is the practical choice?”

There’s usefulness in both sets of questions, but without a little of column A, seeking answers can feel desperate, uninspiring and burdensome.

The character traits that make me who I am today have largely been with me since I was a child. I relished telling and hearing stories. I wanted to help and teach. I wrote poems. I was compassionate (even when I became a teenager and tried to hide it with a tough exterior). I adored magic, words and all forms of creativity. I was introspective – I started keeping a journal at age eight and never stopped. I contemplated the meaning of everything that happened to me.

I use all of these traits in my current job as a tarot reader & blogger, but I could also be using them in a number of other career paths.

I wish I knew then, as a child and a teenager and a young adult…that my identity and existence didn’t have to hinge on choosing one set career path. I wish I knew then that the best way to serve and earn in the world is by doing things you are really good at and really enjoy. I wish I knew then that it wasn’t flakey or wrong to change my mind. I wish I knew then that my deep seated strengths could be suited to any number of job titles.

I wish I knew then that the best approach would be to explore, allow myself to change my mind. I wish I knew then that it was okay – good, even – to seek a career that aligned with my soul. A career I was unabashedly inspired by.

The world is a complicated, constantly changing place. I suspect that many of us humans are pre-programmed to help address the challenges out there. Some of us are equipped to be nurses, physicists, hair stylists, fiction authors, tarot readers, and some of us are meant to invent entirely new ways to show up, earn & serve.

I wish I knew then what I believe now: inspiration is the most important factor in a career. Because when people are truly inspired, that’s when their genius comes out to play and makes the most meaningful impact.

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