Why dream jobs don't come true

Why dreams don’t come true

Most Canadians not in dream job: survey

Martha Worboy, CanWest News Service

A rockstar, a princess, a fireman — what did you want to be when you "grew up"? And are you now shredding your guitar to arenas worldwide, donning a jeweled tiara or fighting fire with the best of them? Chances are you’re not.

Eighty-two per cent of Canadian adults have not attained the dream job of their youth, according to a new poll conducted by Workopolis.

But when it comes to what kids see themselves doing in adulthood, the poll shows that not much has changed over the years. Three occupations — a teacher, a veterinarian and a doctor — were ranked within the top five choices when the three generations polled (children aged five to nine, teens aged 13-19 and adults) were asked what they wanted to be.

Popular new job options favoured by the teen set are forensic scientists, entrepreneurs, personal trainers and jobs with an environmental focus.

What leads individuals astray from realizing their dreams — whether it be donning tights as a well-intended modern day superhero or pursuing a more realistic vocation as a doctor or lawyer — comes down to training and job availability.

Four in 10 Canadians (41%) surveyed said education played a major role in determining their current occupation and 30% said employment opportunity factored into their career choice.

Alan Kearns, head coach and founder of the career coaching firm CareerJoy, said many people choose "Freedom 55" — promising themselves a happier life once they retire from a job that offers financial reward, yet lacks personal fulfilment.

But career is such a big part of daily living, and waiting for that idealized existence doesn’t often work out, Kearns warned.

"A lot of people settle because of fear — fear of change," he said. "Or they’ll say my job is what I do, but I’ll find passion in other areas of my life, in family or in a hobby. And this can lead to disfunction."

Kearns said often people become disillusioned with work if they’re not fulfilling certain "core elements" of their personalities. He advises dissatisfied workers to revisit what they were passionate about when they were younger to see if they’re ignoring qualities that make them happy.

"When I look at my own life, I was a lifeguard, so that involves coaching, training, respect — and a lot of that is part of what I’m doing now," Kearns said.

The youngest generation surveyed seemed to know what path their life will follow. Specific career choices included "a fairy, a real one that can fly," "Spiderman," "a pizza maker," "an Indy car driver," and "Barbie."

There still remains reason to act on your dreams and dream big as a kid. A minority of Canadians surveyed (13%) said they have realized their childhood ambitions.

The poll was conducted by Youthography between July 26 and July 31, 2007, via a national online survey. Three different demographic groups were questioned: 206 children (ages five to nine), with a margin of error of plus or minus 6.8%, 19 times out of 20; 250 teens (ages 13 to 19), with a margin of error of plus or minus 6.2%, 19 times out of 20; and 206 parents of children ages five to nine, with a margin of error of plus or minus 6.8%, 19 times out of 20.