The Dreamer’s Manual:
16 Steps to Achieve Your Creative Goals
Step 8: Consult the Oracles
The career decisions you make are important, but you don’t have to make them alone. You can get help from both earlier and later versions of yourself.
The version of you that makes a career decision is your current self, using information within reach, but there was a past you, and there will be a future you, and all three versions should be consulted when making big decisions.
Imagine you are in your twenties and your goal is to dance professionally. You are faced with many important decisions, including:
Should you move away from your mid-sized hometown to pursue your dream in a larger urban market, or should you stay in a smaller market where you can become a “big fish in a small pond?”
It’s a tough decision, because there are pros and cons to both choices. If you’re not sure of what to do, consider the following method to get advice from past and future versions of yourself.
Think back to the initial impetus for your dream. Why did you want to become a dancer when you were younger? What inspired you? Who were your heroes? How did they become dancers? By what age did you imagine you would be a success? Where did you think you would have to live to achieve your dream?
Picture a version of yourself, twenty or thirty years into the future. What choice will you wish you had made in this situation? What sacrifice will have been worth it? What choice will you most likely regret?
The past you will be the most optimistic, and will also have a clear idea of the type of success that will most likely satisfy you. The future you will benefit from the wisdom of experience, and will appreciate the value of realism and compromise. The current you must take both points of view and blend them with your present reality, to find a compromise between your youthful optimism and the wisdom of your life experience.
Moving to a big city to become a dancer will provide more opportunities, but will also mean removing yourself from physical interaction with your loved ones.
Will it be worth it?
The past you imagined you would move to New York or Los Angeles to pursue your career, but the future you will regret the time away from family and friends. Armed with these points of view, the current you might decide to spend a year pursuing your dream in your present location, to see if you can become a big enough fish to obtain career-building opportunities in your home town. If your plan doesn’t work out, you will have given your local scene a fair shot, and will then feel justified by moving to a larger market. This decision will also provide you and your loved ones with a realistic expectation of when you might leave town, so everyone will be prepared for your next move.
Consider the perspectives of your past, future, and current selves when making important career decisions.
Step 8: Consult the oracles