Whenever someone would ask my sister what she wanted to be when she grew up, she would always answer with, “Astronaut!” For many, her answer was a kid’s fantasy that they assumed she would grow out of. But for a select few, they looked at her with a smile, remembering their own rather ambitious childhood passions to become something unconventionally pursued. And now all grown up, they all, including my sister, have chosen paths more familiar to society.

For Egyptians, we are introduced to the career world with a sense of caution. Since our society attributes success to sciences and engineering above all else, we find ourselves choosing a department that will land us a safe, socially acceptable job rather than taking that time to leap into the unknown, exploring our fiercest dreams. We end up playing it safe. However, our jobs shouldn’t be something that society labels as successful or profitable or prestigious – there is no shame in becoming an author rather than a doctor, or a carpenter rather than a lawyer. A successful career starts with a with passion, is developed by trials and mastered by hard work. The difficultly here, is seeking that path despite the contradictions society may throw at us.

Here, are five simple keys to planning a career – one that you love and one that was chosen by you, for you.

  1. Dream.
    Dare to dream. Dare to see yourself doing what you love. Dare to imagine yourself starting, in baby steps and growing as you go, envisioning how it will change your life and the lives of others. Explore your passions and turn them into a tool that will bring you joy and become beneficial for others. Remember, Omar Smara, an Egyptian adventurer, graduated with a BA in economics yet had a passion for climbing mountains. He now has his own company creating Ethical and Authentic Adventure Travel Experiences Worldwide. Anything is possible and nothing is impossible.
  1. Do some homework.
    Before leaping into your passion, do some research and self exploration. Write down what you’ve dreamt of doing, evaluate your current capabilities, strengths and weaknesses and start working on enhancing or tackling each. Look into your own past experiences and learn from your mistakes, as well as the experiences and mistakes of others.
  1. Try, try and try again.
    One method of learning is trial and error. We can only reach perfected end results through trials and tribulations. And even though sometimes the trials might not get the best results, don’t treat that experience as a failure. Learn from it. Keep on trying until you get it right or you have nothing left in you to try some more. Sir Thomas Edison, the inventor of the lightbulb once said, “I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.”
  1. Drop the fear.
    According to sociology studies, individuals can be resistant to change because of their fear of the unknown – individuals prefer choosing what’s been previously tried over the uncertainties of new experiences. That’s why people think “that’s an uncommon choice” or “it’s not a safe decision”, because we’d rather feel security in walking through a previously paved path knowing exactly what the final destination may be. We might not have gone through it before, but there’s a first time for everything.
  1. Have faith all over the place.
    Believing you can do it is the secret to success. Dreaming, learning and working hard for it are your initial ingredients, but it won’t be complete without trusting that you can do it. Have patience and give your dream time to grow. Have faith and believe in yourself, your capabilities and your dreams. The rest will come naturally.