Think small and you’ll get small things. Think big and you’ll have big successes, big experiences, and big achievements.

You may read that and wonder why you haven’t realized your career dreams. After all, you’ve been thinking big and dreaming big about your career, so why aren’t you where you want to be?

Is it possible that even though you think you are dreaming big, you are actually dreaming small and don’t realize it?

Does this sound familiar to you?

You’ve dared to dream big career dreams. You shot for the moon. A great deal of time and preparation, planning, and sweat equity went into a big effort.

Then your plans failed. And it was very discouraging.

So now you avoid taking chances. Instead of stretching and really shooting for your career dreams, you keep your dreams small and safe. After all, the one time you really tried to achieve your highest career dreams, you failed miserably.

Or, maybe for you, it is something different. Maybe you live in a world where your friends and family are all holding down jobs that pay the bills but have nothing to do with their dreams. Maybe they are happy with that, or maybe they aren’t, but you may not realize that it can be any different either way.

Whatever it was that led you to think too small about your career dreams, the problem is that mindset can cause you lots of problems. Playing it safe and aiming for small results can be dangerously limiting to your career.

Thinking Small Means Missing Opportunities to Achieve Your Career Dreams


“Every great dream begins with a dreamer. Always remember, you have within you the strength, the patience, and the passion to reach for the stars to change the world.” – Harriet Tubman

Thinking small things occupies your mind. Because it’s busy, your mind doesn’t have time to imagine bigger results.

This is dangerous because those small thoughts lead to feelings and emotions that also lead to the way you act—in other words, the things you do. Taken a step further, the things you do create your successes and failures and the life you ultimately lead.

You may be very successful when you set out for a small career achievement. The problem is that focusing on this almost always guarantees a big achievement is impossible.

Here’s an example.

Imagine you’ve never made more than $55,000 per year. You are currently right at that number. You decide to expect more of yourself. You formulate a plan to get your earnings up to $65,000 per year.

There’s nothing wrong with that ambition. You’re planning on making just under 20% more than you are right now.

So good for you and your plan to earn more. You begin to put your plan into action. You learn new skills that are required for advancement. You volunteer for overtime. You apply for every new step up the corporate ladder when it becomes available.

You succeed!

The problem here is that you can only focus on one thought at a time. You thought small and small was what you got.

Thinking small (having limiting beliefs that you can’t make much more than you ever have in your life) was successful, but it was a very small success.

Achieving big things means doing things differently than if you aim for a small success. However, it doesn’t necessarily mean working harder. It just means working differently.

Remember that thinking small seldom leads to big career dream results.

Thinking Small Means You Don’t Grow Professionally


“Dream big dreams! Imagine that you have no limitations and then decide what’s right before you decide what’s possible.” – Btrian Tracey

No matter how accomplished you already are, you likely want to grow in some area of your life and career. However, when you think too small about your career dreams, this thinking doesn’t let you grow. Instead, it keeps you tethered to your previous experiences and what you’ve already done.

The Greek poet Archilochus warned of this repercussion of thinking small way back in the seventh century BC.

“We don’t rise to the level of our expectations; we fall to the level of our training.”

Your training in this context means your personal experiences and previous successes and failures.

It includes the people you spend time with and your environment. The thoughts absorbed by your childhood brain have trained you. Your training got you to where you are now.

If that’s all you want, fine. Good enough is good enough for some people. You can have a decent life that results from small career dreams. Good enough will pay your bills. Maybe you can be happy with that.

But, if you have read this far, you’re probably not one of those people. You are reading this now because you want more for your career. Big career victories are your focus. You want to avoid the dangers of thinking small because a “good enough” job isn’t good enough for you.

If that sounds like you, then start dreaming bigger. You’ll find that you grow in many ways when you push yourself to achieve big things.

Dream Big Career Dreams and Change Your Life

Debbie Millman is an accomplished artist, writer, and graphic designer. She is the author of seven books and the President Emeritus of the American Institute of Graphic Arts, among many other accomplishments. In 2013 she gave the commencement speech at San Jose State University. Here is an excerpt:

“If you imagine less, less will be what you undoubtedly deserve. Do what you love, and don’t stop until you get what you love. Work as hard as you can, imagine immensities. Don’t compromise, and don’t waste time. In order to strive for a remarkable life, you have to decide that you want one. Start now. Not 20 years from now. Not 30 years from now. Not two weeks from now. Now.”

In her talks, Debbie Millman describes how thinking and dreaming big changed her life. When she let herself dream bigger than the “good enough” reality she used to live, dramatic growth began. The world opened up to her, as she explains it. This was when she started achieving even her most aspirational career dreams. And to this day, new honors and accolades continue to come to her.

You can do the same thing. You can create a dream reality bigger than you may ever have imagined. You start that by harnessing the power of thought and daring to dream big career dreams. These dreams and thoughts will lead to the actions and behaviors that create your reality.

When you think small thoughts, you realize small things. When you decide to think big instead, you start to see opportunities and possibilities, and your attitude changes. Dreaming big career dreams motivates you and leads to more personal growth.

Start dreaming big career dreams today if you want to see big and powerful changes in your career and life. You can change your reality and achieve more than you ever dreamed.

Next Steps

Now that you have decided it is time to think big, dream big, and finally achieve the career you dream about, you will want to make the most of every single opportunity. Your resume and LinkedIn profile are your calling card and create the first impression recruiters and hiring managers form of you. It is critical that you make the best first impression with a powerful, branded professional resume and LinkedIn profile.

Don’t let this be a stumbling block in achieving your career goals and full potential!

Book a free resume writing consultation with us to learn more about how our professional resume writing and LinkedIn writing services can be of help to you.

Dont downgrade your dreams just to fit your reality

Stuart W. Scott

“Don’t downgrade your dreams just to fit your reality. Upgrade your conviction to match your destiny.”

About the Author: Michelle Dumas

Michelle Dumas is the founder and CEO of Distinctive Career Services, one of the internet's longest-standing and most respected professional resume writing firms. Michelle is a 6X certified and 7X award-winning resume writer and career consultant. To learn more about the services offered by Distinctive Career Services visit

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