Suppose You Were Given This Key…

Imagine if you will that you chance upon a box which upon opening, has a key and a note. The note reads, “Congratulations. You are now the owner of a key which will open any one single thing you desire. Choose wisely.” What would you open?

Depending on your inquisitiveness, you might be already wondering whether you found the key at home or work; was it out in the open like on your desk or hidden behind some wall in a castle you’re visiting built in the 1400’s? Don’t fret about that. You might wonder who put it there? Why me? How big or small is it? How could it open anything? Will it change shape as I insert it? You’ve been gifted this unique opportunity so just accept it and don’t over think it; the key is in your possession so leave it at that.

So do you opt for something tangible like the keys to a house? I suppose if you’re homeless or have had a life full of moving from one substandard housing unit to another this might have great appeal. On the other hand, if you already have stable housing and you’re relatively happy with what you have, the idea of using this key to unlock something you already have holds less appeal. In other words, you might not want to use the key to make a minor upgrade on what you already own. This you perceive is the big game-changer; the one chance you’ve got to dramatically alter your current existence.

Maybe you’ll go for the tangible but indulgent. You know, the key to a yacht, your own private jet, the front door to a vacation property in some island paradise. Why you can almost hear the jingle, “Just imagine” from a Lotto 649 commercial playing in your head. The fanciful side of you may want the yacht but before you actually declare with finality that the yacht is what it fits, the practical side of you says, “Hold on! We’ll have to pay the insurance, the storage fees and just think of the gas money at todays prices!” So you second guess what you want this key to open and pause to reconsider.

After some moments you think that maybe something tangible isn’t the only thing this key could open. Maybe the romantic lover in you imagines then that this key unlocks the heart of that person you’ve always wanted to see you in the same way you see them. They’ve always had your heart but somehow you’ve never felt they shared your feelings; this key you own could be used to open what you most desire and always have; them. But then some voice whispers to you that it just seems wrong somehow to get this person this way. You really want them to come to love you for who you are, not because you used this key as you would a love potion.


What about a job then? Ah, a job! Not just any job but THE job! The one you’ve tried unsuccessfully to get for what seems like an eternity. It does say it will open anything you desire so why not the door that keeps getting slammed in your face every time you apply for work? Yes, your dream job. Just wish it and it becomes your reality…your phone will ring in minutes with some voice at the other end telling you they’d be thrilled to have you come and work with them!

Unlike the heart of the person you’re hopelessly – or Hope Fully in love with, there’s little or no guilt surely in getting what you want by using this key. There’s nothing wrong with using it to unlock the doors to that corner office in the tower, the Chairman’s office, the Ranger tower in the forest or – well wherever this job you want is located. So why does your conscience nag at you that using it to get that job cause you difficulty?

Okay, okay! So you go to something that’s just fun and harmless. The key may just unlock the door to the local ice cream shop. Yes! Ice cream when you want it for you and your friends! A myriad of flavours at your choosing; vanilla and chocolate when you’re in the mood and raspberry thunder when you’re craving it! Harmless too; it’s only ice cream! Ah, but your health would suffer you acknowledge. After all, how much ice cream could you eat without having your fill? What if you got diabetes or became lactose intolerant? Then your wish for ice cream would be a cruel joke and a waste of the key. Rethink.

What about a vault that holds money. Surely then you could use the money stored there to get whatever you want and when you want it! As your needs and wants change, the money would be there to easily go out and get it. Would that be so bad? It’s like using your last wish to ask the Genie for more wishes. That has its problems too of course.

Enough with the ideas to spur one’s imagination. Would it make a difference in what you wish for if there was a limited time to use it? Would you unlock the mysteries of the universe?

What would the key open if you come across it today?

Maybe you already hold such a key.



Career Undecided? What To ‘Be’…

“So, what do you want to be ?”

“I don’t know.”

Does this sound familiar? Many of us live in developed countries where our occupational choices seem boundless. In fact many people will tell us we can be anything we put our minds to. The people who say this mean only the best for us, hoping to inspire in us the possibility of becoming whatever it is that would make us happy. I wonder though if these kinds of statements don’t somehow handicap many of the very people they are designed to help.

Think about it… if you can be anything you put your mind to, is being a Cashier in a grocery store, a Roofer or a Bell Hop in a hotel going to be enough? Furthermore, if you can be anything in the world you put your mind to, how many occupations do you even know about, and do you know enough about them to make such a momentous decision?

For many of us, it’s during high school when we are about 14 or 15 years old that we start getting asked to seriously think about our long-term careers. We’re told we’ve got to choose between college and university level courses, and getting into one or the other is dependent on the marks we get, and our career choices will largely be determined on which of the two we choose to pursue. The third option of course is to go to neither college nor university and get out into the world and start working at 18 without that post-secondary education.

Two thoughts I have; do young teenagers have the wisdom and knowledge to even make intelligent choices given their limited exposure to occupations, and do high school faculty know enough of the individual student to really know how to best advise them?

I think it would be interesting to sit down with a class of teens and have them individually write down all the careers they have both heard of and believe they have a good understanding of what it is those people actually do in those jobs. How many – or how few would the jobs be that they could intelligently write down and therefore know enough about in order to decide if that job was a potential career choice for themselves?

One big advantage that young people have today over young people back in the 1980’s is the development of technology. The internet has done wonders for bringing young people into contact with a much broader exposure to jobs and the people who hold them both locally and around the world. So without knowing it, many teens may be lying on their beds surfing the net and without intending it, learning about various occupations around the globe when they check out their social media pages, read posts from others or browse items of interests. So you might envision some grandfather asking his teenaged daughter what she wants to do in life and get the reply, “I’m thinking a Marketing Specialist in the Experimental Film Industry sounds interesting.”

Of course, many middle-aged adults who are dissatisfied with their current occupations or whom are unemployed still haven’t figured it out. While a young teen may not know what they want to do in life, they have the great gift of time in order to do so. The older we get, the less time we have, and the biggest barrier to pursuing what we come to see as our dream jobs is the diminished time to get the education we’d need to compete for the job upon graduation. What a pity!

It’s true though isn’t it? I know if I met a 54 year-old who told me they finally figured out what would make them the happiest so they are heading back to school for 3 years, I’d be skeptical that an employer would hire a 57 year old applicant as their first choice in a field they have no direct experience in. Ah, but we can be whatever we want to be can’t we? Or is this sage advice reserved for the young or everyone else excluding ourselves? Is there some cut-off age where the advice changes to, “you can’t be anything you want anymore; you’re too old?”

One thing is absolutely true for young and old alike; if your dream job requires specialized education and training, the longer you delay getting that education and training, the less likely you will realize that dream. Or rather, the longer that dream will remain only a dream. If you want it bad enough, get out of your own way and go for it. The last thing you want to do is sit there in your rocker at 62 lamenting the dream you kept putting off that can no longer come true and spend the next 25 years living a regretful life.

If you’re not sure what you want to do, don’t sit on the sidelines and watch your life play out. Try some jobs, talk with people, browse the internet, read some biographies of people you admire open up a College or University website and check out careers. Take control of your life wherever you are in it and move from the passenger seat to the driver’s seat; adjust the mirrors and focus on the road ahead.

By the way, you’ll likely do a number of things over your lifetime, so give yourself a break and don’t worry about having a 45 year plan when you’re only 18!

Modify Your Dream, Or Magnify Your Skills

Got a dream? Not just any old dream; a dream about yourself in the future where you are successfully employed or self-employed? Fantastic. It is likely that the you of your future is different in a number of ways from the present you. So how are you going to achieve that dream?

I’m willing to bet that the you of your future has enhanced skills; some newly acquired skills that put you in a position to take advantage of opportunities as they arise. Without the new qualifications or enhanced skill set, it is unlikely that the vision you have for yourself will materialize, otherwise why couldn’t you walk out the door today and into that dream occupation?

By way of illustration, suppose your dream job is to be a Rodeo Clown. They can laugh all they want, but that’s your dream and you are entitled to it. If the extent of your exposure to horses and bulls is seeing them on television, or going on a trail ride once a year, it is unlikely you will be offered a job at the next Wild West show. In this case, you’re going to need more exposure to riding, learn the tricks of the trade, how to protect bull riders when they are rejected by the bull, and of course how to protect yourself. Without this additional learning and experience, you must scale down or drop your dream of being a Rodeo Clown because it’s just never going to happen.

Modifying your dream in the above illustration doesn’t necessarily mean you have to completely remove yourself from the proximity of it however. So instead of resigning yourself to working in a dingy office with your Business and Economics degree, perhaps you could find a way to get employed working for a Wild West company as their Business Manager, Accountant, etc. In other words, among the occupations that have a Rodeo Clown at the centre of a circle, are there jobs you could apply for that would in some way offer fulfillment for you. So you either modify your dream (Rodeo Clown no more, Rodeo Clown’s Business Manager moving forward), or you magnify your skills (Rodeo Clown school sign me up).

The major difficulty for many is they hold on to their original dream but fail to take the training, education, and gain the experience necessary to one day realize their career dream. Looking from the outside in, maybe you and I can see it’s never going to happen unless something changes in the person, but the person fails to see things objectively.

Perhaps the reason for holding on to a dream but doing nothing to bring it about is fear. After all, if you actually went and got required education, you couldn’t use that as an excuse anymore could you? Of if you took the time to try to get the education and failed, you’d have to admit your dream is over, and some people just want to have a dream to hold onto.

By the way, did you scoff at the example of a Rodeo Clown? Why didn’t I make it more believable, common place or realistic you ask? Well too often, a person is truly reluctant to share their dream because they fear ridicule and being dismissed. A person has the right to dream of being and doing whatever they find joy and happiness in. Just because that occupation may seem remote to you, or unattainable, I think it serves us well to give a person a chance to talk about what would really make them happiest. When they do, you might see passion, excitement and energy that has been lacking as they talked about jobs and occupations that were what they thought you wanted to hear from them but that they have little interest in. If you are in a position to help them succeed, or help them do the necessary research they need to get going, that’s the help you should provide.

The encouragement you offer another may be to listen, to ask questions, find out why that is appealing, how long that dream has been had, and challenge them to do a few things to find out more about making that dream a few steps closer. If in the research, the person realizes that the dream is actually unrealistic, such as in the case of needing 7 years of school to become a Dentist, that may help them move forward in another direction. On the other hand, if your words help them realize that their dream job is within their ability to make come true, you may have been the one person in their life that actually helped move them along. One day, they might retire from being a Rodeo Clown and at their retirement dinner, speak your name as the one person who encouraged them and helped make their dream come true.