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What do you do when you realize your dream career may be out of reach?

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By Courtney Sprague, Guest Contributor

What happens when you cannot quite get to that dream career you have been holding on to? We all get there at some point in our life. When we realize that our dream career may be out of reach, whether it be due to athleticism, age, training or something else entirely. Yes, this can be depressing and frustrating, but what can you do about it? A lot actually. There are many instances when people realize, for one reason or another, their dream career is just beyond their reach. Think about your dream career, if you are in it, congratulations! Hold onto it. If you are not, however, that is OK too. There are plenty of ways to enjoy your career without allowing you to, perhaps, let go of a dream that may not come to fruition.

The first thing to do when trying to determine what direction to take your career is to consider what aspects of your dream career are non-negotiable.  What type of environment do you best work in? Where do you want to end up when you retire? Considering these basic questions may aid in developing themes that can be used to research additional options.

For example, if your dream career is to be an Intelligence Analyst, but you have yet to achieve this, think about what aspect of this career is most appealing. Perhaps the pieces of the analyst career you love are gathering and analyzing information or designing databases that organize information, while assisting with the nation’s national security efforts.  What you can do is look for other careers that may lead you to utilize these skills in different ways. Private investigators, law enforcement officials and research analysts, among other careers, would be worth checking out as they have similar daily tasks, according to O*Net Online.

O*Net Online, created and managed by the U.S. Department of Labor, is a great resource for researching possible careers and even more helpful when pulling out aspects of your ideal career that relate to others. When searching for possible alternatives, start out by searching O*Net Online with your dream career. This may seem counterintuitive, but what you want to do is read through the tasks, activities, and skills associated with that dream career. Pick out the statements that speak to you the most. You can even rank them from most appealing to least. Take the top 1 or 2 statements you pick out and search O*Net for that statement. Yes, your dream career will pop up too, but look past it and explore the other options that come out. You never know what could be related and who knows, maybe you will even end up with a new dream career!

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