Reach to Your Full Potential: Overcome Setbacks and Fulfill Your Dreams

A current article from Ann Welsh in HRToolbox entitled "Don't Let Your Age or Life Stage Get in the Way of You and Your Dreams" has been so inspirational to me. Although I have encountered, listened to, and helped so many people who are facing that very same problem, I realize that it remains almost a "taboo" subject. We do not like talking seriously about the triangle of age, dreams, and life circumstances because conscientiously or not we think that it would not be "adult-like" to revisit this subject. 

Ann Welsh found inspirations for her article in  Barbara Crowley 's September 1st 2012 The New York Times article, and from a writing by Judith Timson in The Globe and Mail as well. We can get discouraged by so many things. People may crush your dreams, or due to life circumstances you might have "given up"on them. While it is ok to recognize our weaknesses, we also need to not "let go" of our dreams without a fight. Don't let life and people defeat you. Don't let a supervisor's or a manager's bias, an overwhelming scorecard, unattainable standards, past shortcomings, or company policies destroy your confidence. And yes, it is all about your confidence in yourself.

There will always be variables that you cannot control, such as the state of mind of your supervisor, the working philosophy of a manager, the bias of some "colleagues", but you are in control of the best resource that you have: YOURSELF. Do you believe in yourself? Or maybe did you just need somebody to give you that little push and say "yes, you can do it. Believe in yourself." 

Evidently, one has to be realistic. Not everyone can be a Steve Jobs, if you cannot look at blood or a laceration you may not want to become a physician or an emergency nurse. And within reason, if you are a size 14 or XXL now, you cannot fit in a size 8 or M. But who says that it would be impossible in the future? Have you looked around you, have you talked to people? You would be surprised of what people can and do accomplish when they pursue their dreams. 

Not too long "Linda"* felt so defeated. She had retired from a previous fulfilling career and had taken a small, menial job for various reasons. She thought that it would be a good "retirement" job, giving her flexibility and securing her health insurance. She was a good professional, never had major issues or setbacks in her career as a counseling supervisor in a very large organization. Yet, in this new function she was struggling to meet standards. She constantly felt demeaned. She hopelessly disagreed with the management as all the blame of unmet standards were put on the rank-and-file's back. No serious effort was actually put to help workers meet pre-established standards: they had become unattainable to the common, ethical worker. At almost 60, Linda decided to revisit herself. She liked helping people. She was good at that. Why not go back to counseling or anything in that line? Of course age was a major concern, let alone a sagging job market. But Linda took the courage to get herself out of that sad situation. First she said to herself "Enough is enough. I am not what "they" (organization's management) are saying that I am. I am worth something, and I know it. So, yes, I felt so depressed but it is enough. I will not let "them" destroy me."  So Linda shrugged off all the belittling and restarted to believe in herself. Then, she used her network. Linda went back to fulfill her vocation: helping people. Better yet, she landed another supervisory job in a related field.

Linda is a common example. Your main resource is YOURSELF. In a company we manage Human Resources. We talk about Human Capital. In fulfilling your dreams and potential, and overcoming life circumstances, YOU are your major resource. So examine yourself. What are your opportunities? What are your attributes? How can you merge them and make things happen? 

As a HR professional, we struggle daily with biases, requirements of the company, standards of our function. Do we have our share of responsibility in overcoming age and other biases? How do we assess an older candidate who has a hiatus in his/her professional course? Do we make a decision mainly based on EEO needs and standards? Are we in a way creating or contributing to the major, current issue of age bias?

There are so many people who realized their dreams despite hurdles. Why not you? What makes the difference? There is so much inspiration that we can take from each other. Examples are infinite, so go forward, examine yourself and take the first step today and be another example of leadership and success. Success comes in many shapes and forms, just like people. You ARE your first resource. 

*changed for privacy

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