“That must have been really painful?”
This is a question my very talented therapist of seven years often asks me when I’m connecting an old childhood wound back to something that is holding me back today. And it’s usually in addressing this wound that helps me choose a more productive path forward.
Whether it has to do with my job, my marriage or even my family, my reactions and emotions usually connect back to something triggering from my childhood. And from a career perspective, I’m often surprised how much “stuff” I bring into my work life that comes from old hurts from my family or past relationships. In fact, my husband, who consults top CEOs on business growth initiatives, leads entire programs on helping business leaders unpack their old traumas in order to grow their corporations. Because guess what? Most of the time it’s through dealing with these old “scars” that make the biggest difference in the futures of these companies..
So what does this have to do with finding the job or career you were meant for? Keep reading to learn how I found my dream job all while looking back and collecting secrets from my inner child.
I am currently a multi-state licensed esthetician and virtual skin coach – AKA my dream job. If none of these titles make sense to you, you can basically think of me as a professional skincare expert, licensed to help you get the skin of your dreams (and learn to love yourself more along the way!). And yes, even though it’s not neuroscience or curing global warming, I truly believe that I was put on this Earth to do what I’m doing now. But I had to figure some stuff out before I got here.
And it’s in the following process that your own dream job – the one that gives your life fire and purpose – can form!
Laying a Foundation
Do you ever wonder what made you choose your college major? Or what made you decide not to attend college and start your professional career right out of high school or trade school? For me, it was my older sister. Since I could remember, I strove to follow in her footsteps. She was interested in business as early as her high school years, and joined marketing and business clubs in high school and took on a business and marketing curriculum in college. She primed herself for the money-making corporate world and never looked back. I followed closely behind – four years to be exact.
During this time, I couldn’t even tell you what I truly enjoyed doing or studying. In fact, I remember switching my major a bit because I was so confused. In the end, I chose to follow my sister once again and go into “business,” whatever that meant. It seemed broad enough to give me flexibility, but probable that I would be able to make enough money to enter adulthood and figure things out as I went along.
After a bit, I started creating goals for myself that helped to keep me motivated and pushing ahead – because I wasn’t motivated by the job itself. That goal for me was to make over $100,000 per year by the time I was 30. Seems like a pretty superficial goal when I read this back. But if we’re being honest with ourselves, how many of us start our livelihoods with goals like this as our priorities? This is especially true if we aren’t enjoying what we’re doing. Any of these sound familiar?
- Get [enter job title] by [time frame or age]
- Earn [goal salary] by [time frame or age]
- Retire by [time frame or age]
- Get promoted to in [time frame]
- Make my company [enter amount of money] by [time frame]
- make Partner by [time frame]
What do these goals have in common? They have everything to do with us, and nothing to do with purpose.
And in my experience, “me-centered” foundations don’t equal long-term fulfillment, happiness and job satisfaction.
Discovering Real Goals
So after reaching my superficial goals in my 20s and early 30s, I wondered to myself, “shouldn’t this feel better?” Shouldn’t I feel great? I’m making the money I want, I am valuable and important at work, and I generally like what I do. The people-pleaser in me should have no reason to feel dissatisfied.
But I wasn’t feeling good. I was tired and felt like I was on an amusement park ride that just kept going around and around with nothing new to experience. I craved something, but I didn’t know what it was.
At this same time, I started therapy with a psychologist. She started to help me unpack my life goals more, along with solidifying my values and life wants. And as cliche as it sounds, we talked a lot about my childhood. Here I found that opening up the box to the past and working through past wounds, childhood traumas, and even life-changing experiences (as scary as it may be sometimes) was the key to understanding what I really wanted to do with my life, and how that connected back to a career or job.
For me, it took about 5 years to figure out that I went into business because my sister did. I was mentally pushed as a kid to be successful and self-sufficient by my grandmother. I was a type A people-pleaser who never wanted to be a disappointment to- or be dependent on- anyone, and I was trained to prize these things over anything else, which led me into a career in advertising and branding, and being a slave to pleasing superiors.. And while I’m incredibly thankful for this time in my life and all of the wonderful people and experiences I was exposed to, it never made me feel like I was contributing to the world I wanted. Some days, I actually felt like I was potentially making the world a worse place.
But continuously keeping my childhood experiences close proved to be the key to unlocking my ideal job.
The Turning Point
When I was a kid, I struggled with conforming to the cultural beauty standards of the 1990s. I was never going to be stick thin (not that anyone should be!) or a beauty queen. I was bullied, rejected by boys and became deeply insecure in my appearance. Throughout my late teens and well into my 30s, I suffered from a pretty powerful eating disorder. It messed with my metabolism, kept my weight constantly fluctuating, and gave me a super unhealthy relationship with myself and food. I also deal with hereditary anxiety and depression, which oftentimes makes “self-love” practices virtually impossible in combination with my berating eating disorder voice.
My wish for the longest time was to learn to love myself and stop judging, comparing, criticizing and downright hating myself for just being me. And to shut up all the companies and marketers that perpetuated the message that we need to spend more and work harder to live up to a cultural beauty ideal – whether it be skin, hair, body, fashion, etc. The list goes on.
And this wish ultimately morphed into a proposition of a completely new career. A career where I could help people learn to take care of themselves better, love themselves and accept themselves more. This is when I decided to take the leap and quit my corporate job and go to esthetics school. And although there were weeks and months of scary emotions with this 180 degree pivot, I went by faith that it was the right thing to do. I had always been enamored with skincare, makeup and taking care of others. But I wanted to use it in a way that honored my values, world hopes and inner child.
Finding the job you want or your “dream job” is not about making yourself happy. Read that again. When you find the job you’re meant for, there will still be days you don’t want to work or deal with things. The difference is your “why.” When you’re in the right job, your why keeps you excited and satisfied with what you’re doing for the world.
If you’re in the career or job you’re meant for, you will most likely feel like you’re helping the world in some way. You’ll also most likely feel like your innate gifts and talents are aligned to that job as well. But if your sole motivation is coming from money or self-centered goals, you may want to reevaluate your purpose and career.
To do so, I recommend getting to know your inner child through therapy, meditation or self-reflection. Being curious about how your career goals and motives are influenced by past wounds or traumas is a great place to start. If you have access to therapy, it is a more efficient way to better understand your innate gifts and skill sets, along with developing your own dream job. The most important thing is to figure out how you want to contribute to the world. And what is holding you back from doing so. It’s not simple or quick, but it’s the best thing I ever did for myself.
And if therapy is not for you, I recommend asking yourself this simple question to start exploring your ideal job.
“If money was no factor, I would use my talents/skills of [your talents or skills] to make the world a better place by [the way you’d want to change the world for the better].
This guest post was authored by Emily Trampetti
Along with skin, Emily is super passionate about animals, Disney, tea, bubble baths, nature hikes. They live in Chicago with their cat, Gene.
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