My Career Dreams and Realities

We all dream about our futures from preschool age until the day we die.  Most of us have had dreams of being a superhero or a celebrity, but only a select few achieve those dreams.  As we grow our dreams tend to become more practical and achievable as we develop our interests and talents.  This is the story of the dreams I’ve dreamed and the realities I have faced that have led me to this point in my life.

When I was a little kid I wanted to be a cowboy.  There are many pictures of me in my cowboy outfit, guns on my hips, kerchief around my neck and hat on my head.  I attended Catholic schools from 1st grade through 12th grade, so it is not a surprise that  there was a time that I wanted to be a priest.  The space program was in its infancy while I was in grade school and astronaut definitely spent some time on my want-to-be list.  Of course, I had the dream of most boys of being a professional athlete.  By the time high school rolled around I had discovered that I did not have the physical ability to be an athlete and had discovered girls, so being a priest was out.  I kept my interest in science and I planned to attend Kansas State University and study genetics.

For financial reasons, I never made it to KSU, but did attend a very nice, smaller university.  My junior year Organic Chemistry course convinced me to change my major to Speech and Communications.  I decided to become a teacher and dreamed of leading high school debate teams and directing plays.  After graduation, my phone rang off the hook with offers to teach science and math.  Although my major was speech, I had acquired enough college credits to teach lower level science classes in high school and junior high.  No one called to offer me a teaching position in speech and drama, so I accepted a position teaching science and math in a small Kansas town.  I taught there for two years and then accepted a position teaching General Science at a high school that had 3 times as many students as the entire population of the first town I taught in.  Teaching in a school with over 1000 students proved to be a lot different than teaching in a town of 300 people.  One thing that was very discouraging was how many teachers at this school hated their jobs.  They had moved up the salary ladder by getting their master’s degrees and with their years of experience and they felt like they could not afford to quit and start over in another occupation.  I wasn’t loving teaching science and I was determined not to become trapped like them.  I quit after the end of the school year and opened up an arcade in my home town.

I loved playing video games and I had a blast running the arcade.  But I was young and made mistakes and I soon had to close my arcade and place my machines in bowling alleys and bars.  A friend of mine told me about an opening at the drug store in the mall, and my retail career began. While working at the mall drug store, I was told about this fast-growing company that was accepting applications for management training positions. My application was accepted and in 1984 I began my management career with Wal-mart.

I approached my assistant manager job with passion, gladly working 60-70 hours a week. I dreamed of the day that I would be promoted to general manager of a store.  About 4 years later that dream came true as I became the manager of one of the first stores in Arizona.  For awhile I was very happy running stores for Wal-mart.  As time went on, the stores got bigger and employed hundreds of associates.  The manager’s job became more administrative and less hand’s on.  I had enjoyed working the sales floor, building displays, helping customers, etc.  As the manager’s position became more “back office”, I began to lose my passion.  Unfortunately, it took me years to realize that I did have to be the manager of a retail store just because that is what I had been doing for the last 20 years.

I set up this counter in a local office supply store.

Even while I was managing stores for Wal-Mart, I had started to do some independent merchandising jobs on the side.  I liked being my own boss, setting my own schedule and I really enjoyed the work.  Recently, I have committed to doing only work I enjoy.  I will continue to do merchandising jobs as an independent contractor.  Another thing I enjoyed about retail was teaching and training new workers.  This blog will allow me to teach and also fulfill another dream of mine, being a writer.  With the help of mentors who have found success making a living doing what they love and with the much appreciated support and my readers, I will be able to live my dream.



2 responses to “My Career Dreams and Realities

  1. Rick

    Just wanted to thank you for your thoughtful response to my comment on “be more with less” site.

    Nice to know that I’m not the only well educated/ long time married/ mid-fifties guy who is drawn to this way of life.

    I look forward to reading the blog at length.

  2. Pingback: Stop dreaming about retirement. Live now! « Live Your Future Now

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