I dislike the phrase “the grass isn’t always greener on the other side of the fence”. My dislike is not because of its monotonous overuse. Nor its metaphorical meaning. I dislike it because it represents the opposite of dreaming of something better. That blue-sky thinking moment when you can visualise something more. Or in the case of job seeking, that pot of gold at the end of the rainbow; the dream job.
What is a dream job?
Trying to simplify a dream job in a concise sentence that will resonate generically with all job seekers is like trying to give directions to Zanzibar, to someone who doesn’t speak English and who confuses their left from their right. A mindboggling task. And it’s mind boggling because it’s such a personal preference that differs dependent on who you ask.
Some will consider a dream job as one which offers copious amounts of money. Others may say money is the root of all evil and that it’s more about doing a service for a meaningful cause. Perhaps it’s to follow your idols in music, sport, film or a hobby. It differs on the specific’s from person to person.
A different perspective
I therefore think that to answer this question we need to come at it from a different angle. Rather than dissecting the specifics of what a dream job is, maybe it’s simpler to consider what makes up the common ingredients of a dream job.
Perhaps above all, being happy in the job that you do is most important. If you are going to spend the majority of your waking life doing something, why not be doing something that makes you happy? When you think of what type of jobs would make you happy, they tend to be the type of jobs which everyone else will also want. Ironically though, many people who love their jobs and have found happiness in what they do, wouldn’t have even considered what they do now back when they left education.
This is sometimes because they presumed that the job would be different from what it is actually like. But at some point, and for some reason, they found their way into it. Other times it’s simply because they didn’t know that the job existed in the first place. Take my industry as an example; recruitment. Who leaves school dreaming of being a recruiter? Now, I am in the rare group of people who can honestly say, I really love my job.
The truth is that to find a job you are happy in, it isn’t usually as easy as looking through a career prospectus or having a chat with a career’s advisor. Practically speaking, it tends to take a few jobs and career changes early in your career to find something you like. But that relies on trying to find something that makes you happy from a task perspective. If it takes you a few goes to find it, then so be it.
For me a purpose can be interpreted in different ways dependent on who you ask. If you ask me, it is about doing something I care about it. Something that matters to me. A purpose doesn’t have to be a charitable cause. It doesn’t have to be something that signifies you as an example of pure virtue. What matters is that what you are doing matters to you.
This could be to create something and so your job becomes about creating things that you feel passionate about. It could be to solve problems that you have a knack for that others can’t. Maybe, it’s leading people and your satisfaction comes from developing others regardless of what field it is in. All that counts is that the purpose matters to you.
What you get out of it
Happiness is all very well, but if what you do pays so poorly that you can’t afford to do it then you’ll need to consider other options. You’ll need more than just happiness from a job for it to be sustainable.
First on the list is money. You can work for money or money can work for you. Unless you already have money, the system we live in demands it if you want to have any decent standard of living. For some it is more important than others. If I am being honest, I am one of those people.
Money is not the root of all evil. Money is a facilitator for the possessors choosing. If the possessor of money wants to spend it gambling, that isn’t money’s fault. I have friends who have a gambling addiction and it is regarded as an illness. Money didn’t cause the illness though. It is simply a facilitator. But if used wisely and to benefit the possessor it can aid a better lifestyle. It won’t bring happiness solely. You could hate your job, have no friends or worse. What use is money to you if you have 5 hours to live due to a terminal illness? Money is simply a facilitator to do what the possessor chooses to use it for.
What else could you get out of your dream job?
Satisfaction, closure, the feeling that you’ve earned your crust. At the end of a hard week, did it feel like hard work or a job worth doing? In any dream job you’ll look back one day at the good times you had doing that job.
Task or Team
Culture is a key factor in a dream job. If you dream of being an astronaut, but then find yourself stuck in a cramped space station for 6 months with a small group of people whose personalities make you want to stick pins in your eyes, the dream would turn into a nightmare.
You have to find a place in which you feel part of that team. One of the guys if you like. Welcomed in to the tribe. Like money, culture is a facilitator. If the dominant culture is one of unity, combined efforts and solidarity, it will facilitate those present to do their jobs to the best of their abilities.
I have worked in environments where meetings were conducted on how to improve our culture. Immediately that rang alarm bells in my mind. It simply says that the people present did not share values. They had no unity. There wasn’t solidarity. And it was obvious. The thing is with culture is that when hiring you need to ensure that the majority and dominant culture in your tribe will be a natural fit for that person. If you are the job seeker, you need to seek the right cultural environment for you as a priority. You may want that job, but that job will most likely exist elsewhere at another company also. But for you to realise your dream job, you need to be around people you want to be around in the first place. That is very important.
This may come across as a bit strong initially, but bear with me. Get a job that if you were to die, you wouldn’t have regrets about it being your last. People’s last few hours of life are often in contemplation of regretting what they didn’t do, rather than what they did.
We all know people who stick with a job to pay the bills that they hate. That they constantly moan about, but don’t seem to do anything about. It is said that the definition of insanity is doing the same thing and expecting a different result.
But not doing something about a job you hate, a career path you dislike or an occupation you just find unsatisfying could be deemed insane. Although you may not think it now, will you regret not doing something about it come the day when you don’t have any more time to do something about it?
To sum up
A dream job is different dependent on who you ask. It’s a personal thing. But it needs to be something that makes you happy. What it is from a task perspective may not be obvious and so you may need to try a few different career avenues until you find it by dipping your toe in the water along the way. Understand why you are doing what you do. Have a purpose that matters to you. Ensure that you get out from your job what you want and what is important to you. Make sure that the environment is a culture that you feel at home in. It’s important that you want to be, and enjoy being, around these people. We are social creatures after all. And finally don’t settle for something that you’ll regret when the day comes when it’s too late to do anything about it.
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External Links: http://www.testq.com/careers/quizzes/74-whats-your-dream-career
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