Do you remember your elementary school year book’s caption “what I will do when I am grown up?” Chances are, none of your pals became truck drivers, fire fighters or school teachers. Still, those childhood desires are part of who we are.

Here is a real story. One of my clients needed guidance as she embarked on her 3rd major career change. She has many amazing talents, such as engineering and industrial design, a strong team leader, a go-getter and confident in her abilities to do whatever she sets as a goal. She felt that her main challenge was starting her job search at the depth of the US recession, competing for scarce jobs with a five year gap in corporate employment on her resume. She had already done her home work and mapped her education, experience and skill set to identify target companies. All she wanted from a coach was to give her moral support during what she expected to be a difficult and often emotionally draining process. The goal was clear, the path was set, she had hired a champion, and off she went.

With someone so sure about her path, and what she wanted from a coach, she was a very tough client. Highly intelligent, she would not let me lead her into brain storming for her true calling, or analysing her values. That would all have gotten into the way of her goal. So I observed and took notes, championed her when her search hit the doldrums and encouraged her to stand her man. The big day came, and she had scored the final selection into her dream job – big money, cool product company, okay commute.

Then a fascinating turn of events. A few days after this big score, she called me, obviously distraught. For the first time in our coaching relationship, she was ready to be coached. The question was why she had had severe anxiety attacks and could not face this final interview.

What we found out was that the dream job was completely misaligned with her true values. She had skipped over them from the get-go because she was so driven by the desire to make real money and turn around her current financial woes. This job would not let her spend time with her two teenage children, who were already shuttling between her and the father’s house. By getting out of financial dependency from her ex-husband, she was going to head into trouble with her children at a time so crucial for their development. Her body’s reaction showed her it was time to re-assess this career decision.

Today, she is enrolled in a credentialing program to work in public schools. In addition, she has cleaned up her over taxed schedule to make time for paying part time jobs until she can apply for the real dream job – one that allows her to be the main care taker for her children and earning her own money plus health insurance.