Childhood Dreams Help You Discover Your Passion


Career management expert Ginny Clarke shares an interesting technique for jobseekers and career changers who are in the dark about the next step in their career.

She calls it “When I Was Ten,” and it’s a suggestion to look back at the time when you were 10 and remember what you wanted to be when you grew up. Did you want to be a cowgirl, a nurse, a teacher or U.S. President? Whatever dreams you had then may not be directly relevant to your career path today, but some of the things you enjoyed can be a springboard to insights and, ultimately, your next job.

When I was 10, I wanted to be a writer. Inspired by all the Nancy Drew mysteries, my best friend Martha and I each started writing what became, for me, a 15,000-word novel – The Adventures of Pat and Peggy. Pat (the pretty, brave one) and Peggy (the chubby but sweet-natured scaredy-cat) were twins, and not unlike Ms. Drew and friends, Pat and Peggy attempted to solve a lot of mysteries in the small farming community where they lived.

Martha and I enjoyed countless hours sitting happily on her front porch, writing our novels on thin-lined notebook paper tucked into three-ring binders. We occasionally stopped to read passages to each other, only to plunge in again with our hand-written reveries.

That love of writing became, for me, a love for journalism in college, and ultimately a passion for my profession – public relations. 2012 marks my 40th year in PR, and I love it more than ever, thanks to all the challenges in a digital age where I’ve had to learn so many new functions.

I didn’t expect to still be at it. Truth be told, I suffered from career burn-out multiple times. Also, I had another life-long passion that I hoped to turn into a career: art. A painter all my life, I can’t count all the art workshops and courses at the School of the Art Institute that I took, learned from and enjoyed.

Ten years ago, my career plan called for retiring from PR and traveling around the country in a trailer, exhibiting and hopefully selling my paintings at art fairs. That was plan A. Plan B called for retiring to a small town and selling my paintings online while volunteering to make the world a better place.

I doubt either of those things will happen anytime soon. I’m in love with PR – especially the writing side. Social media platforms and blogs have given me that gift. They have rekindled my passion for writing in the way I experienced it when I was 10.

That’s my story, now tell me yours. What did you want to be when you were 10?


About Chris Ruys

Chris Ruys is founder and president of Chris Ruys Communications, Inc., a marketing/public relations firm that specializes in high visibility campaigns using both traditional and social media strategies. Her blog, originally called "Getting Social," was launched in October 2010 as a way to share her progress as a "student" of social media. While she's still learning, Ms. Ruys has broadened the scope to include other aspects of marketing communications and PR, including blogging, email, traditional media and advertising in the blog she now calls "Proactive PR."