The Myth of the Dream JobJul 12, 2021
What do you want to be when you grow up? This question is asked to pretty much every child in the world. It’s a noble thing to want young people to live with hopes and dreams for the future. But the problem with this question is that we don’t really educate young people about how a career isn’t the only thing you need to strive for.
Our society is very work oriented. When people meet you, they ask you “what do you do?” Our work defines who we are. It’s not just you athletes who fall into the trap of work being your identity. All of us are told that the be all and end all of growing up is getting that perfect job that brings us everything: good pay, good benefits, cool opportunities, a sense of purpose - you get the picture.
But how realistic is that? How many jobs have you had that checked every single box? Chances are none of them - and that’s because work is NOT supposed to fulfill every aspect of your life. You can have identities outside of work. You can be an accountant AND a triathlete, a marketing expert AND a dancer, a nurse AND a wedding officiant. The idea that you can’t find value or identity in things outside of work is a myth. Work should be a part of your life, not the whole thing.
The danger here is the trap of work becoming your identity and constantly searching to find that perfect job. You know, the one that won’t give you headaches, or the one that will give you purpose and eliminate all the problems in your life. The reality is that no job is perfect. Every job has negative aspects, and you’ll find them. And what’s more, no job will give you a purpose that you can’t understand or find within yourself.
Here are some important questions to ask yourself when you are thinking about your future.
What do you enjoy doing?
What do you love to do? What interests you and what do you find that you gravitate towards whether there are career opportunities there or not? Keep in mind that the things we enjoy doing do NOT have to become work. These can just stay as things we enjoy in our time off as hobbies, or to experience with friends and family, etc. Not everything has to become a revenue stream.
What kind of lifestyle is important to you?
Do you like having evenings and weekends free? Do you love having summers off? Do you have a family at home? All of these things and so much more are important to consider. Eating out, living in a city vs. the suburbs, virtual work or in person collaboration - all important to factor into your search for future opportunities. You need to communicate and understand within yourself what you’re willing to sacrifice and what you’re not.
What do you care about?
Another way to ask this is what impact do you want to make? Make a purpose and mission statement for YOU. What do you hope to bring more of into the world? What problem do you hope to help solve? If you don’t understand the impact you want to make on the world and what you actually care about, you will have a hard time truly finding a lasting purpose.
What are you good at?
This question may seem simple but it is SO important. Your strengths are some of the most important things you should consider in a future job opportunity. This doesn’t mean you can’t get better and work on your skills to improve, but we all have skills that just naturally come easier to us. You need to embrace those skills and strengths.
Maybe you are good with numbers, so you work hard during the week as an accountant. You want evenings and weekends off because you are also a triathlete and need to train. So you work for a corporate firm that is open from 9-3pm every weekday, and gives you plenty of vacation days. On the weekends and in the evenings you train, and you have the vacation time to travel to big competitions when they occur.
Once you know your strengths and what you are good at, the things you care about, the interests you have and the lifestyle you want to create, you can craft the future that meets your expectations. It’s ok if your work isn’t something you are incredibly passionate about. If your job provides you with the opportunity to do something you’re good at, and provides you with the benefits to be able to live the life you want either in your work or outside of it, that IS a dream job.
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