Career Barriers Busted: How to Make Your "Backburner Dreams" Come True!

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Stories from The Road to Success is Paved with Failure, By Joey Green:

  1. In 1957, Don Hewitt, who went on to become executive producer of the CBS hit “60 Minutes, ” told Barbara Walters to “stay out of television. ”
  1. Elton John’s first single, “Come Back, Baby” released with his band, Bluesology, never made it to the charts. He failed his audition for Liberty Records and his 1968 debut album “Empty Skies” flopped.
  1. Dustin Hoffman dropped out of Santa Monica City College. Unable to find an acting job in New York, he worked as a janitor and an attendant in a hospital mental ward.

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Each of these celebrities went on to become world famous in their chosen professions. The success we attribute to each of them today was hard won. What if Barbara Walters had taken Don Hewitt’s words to heart? What if Elton John had seen his audition and the flop of his debut album a sign he should give up? What if Dustin Hoffman had stayed put, working in the hospital mental ward?

The trick is to pursue your career and lifestyle aspirations and not give up! The barriers can seem insurmountable — yet the world is diminished when we don’t follow our destiny.

Confront real, imagined barriers

In his most recent book, Second Acts: Creating the life you really want, building the career you truly desire, Stephen Pollan lists 12 common barriers to entry people face forging new directions after discovering their work unfulfilling:

  • Age
  • Money
  • Duration (amount of time to get into it)
  • Consent of others (spouse, other family members)
  • Location
  • Physical condition (for example, body build to be a basketball player)
  • Education and training
  • Timing
  • Esteem
  • Fear of failure
  • Fear of Success
  • Fatalism (thinking destiny is fixed)

    Which of these barriers do you face in fulfilling a career aspiration? Many seem larger than they really are because of our own internal barriers.

    For example: Perhaps you think you are too old to pursue a particular career direction. Is that truly the case or have you made your mind up without doing the research necessary to determine whether your hunch is entirely true? What if your age actually could be an advantage, setting you apart from others?

    Remember feisty octogenarian Clara Peller who asked “Where’s The Beef?” in the Wendy’s commercials in the 1980s? Her age made her a cult figure, adding to the impact of her persona in those television commercials. More than 15 years after her death, her name comes up today in a Google Internet search, in German, Chinese and English.

    What if money is the barrier that keeps you from pursuing your most fulfilling dreams? Next to age, money seems to be the barrier of greatest concern to people considering a new career direction, Pollan says. As with age, we may wrongly conclude that money is a barrier without doing the research.

    Assess your financial capacity

    Start with a complete review of your finances, including wages, savings and other assets, and your current expenses. It will clarify your actual financial needs and wherewithall, compared to your imagined financial capacity.

    A great way to measure your income against expenses is a free template offered on Microsoft’s web site. You can download this Excel spreadsheet, use the categories provided on the sheet, or create your own.

    Find the template at www.officeupdate. the Personal Finance link and then the Personal Budget template).

    After assessing your actual expenses and income sources, you may be able to shave non-essential expenses long enough to squirrel away enough money to finance your cherished career dream. You also may discover short-term ways to increase your income by moonlighting or selling some assets.

    No matter the real or imagined barriers, there are techniques to surmount them. Think about difficult situations you’ve confronted in your past. How did you overcome them? Looking back on strategies you’ve used successfully can pave the way to viable approaches you can take today.

    Learn from others who have risen to the top in the field Who are the stars and champions in the field to which you are heading? What can you learn about how they overcome barriers that can be instructive in your own life? Are any approachable, possibly mentors, to help you get to where you want to go?

    I offer a virtual telephone group for people from all over the United States starting up small businesses or contemplating a start up. I am amazed at how creative people in these groups are about helping others overcome the barriers they face to getting what they want. I’ve observed time and again that we each have much more courage for others.

    We can see ways around, under, over and through blockages they view as solidly concrete.

    So make yourself a promise — don’t give up your “backburner dream. ” Find another person or group to start closing on your cherished dream of what you want to contribute to the world. Whether it’s starting a new business, changing careers or writing a book, the only real barriers are those from which you dare not escape!

    Melanie Keveles MA, CPCC, Certified Professional Life Coach. She’s a “dream champion, ” working with people who want to change career direction, start a business or publish a book. She’s available via e-mail at, by phone at 715-394-4260, or

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