I am sure many of you have had the thought at some point in your career “What if I never find my dream job?” Or, what if my dream job, once I do find it, is not what I want it to be?
It’s hard to keep dreaming when doubts creeps in. Or when we start to learn the harsh realities of what our dream job is like in the light of day — or dark of night. (I want to be a movie star, but do I really have to get up at 3am for a shoot?)
So what role does a dream job play in our lives?
Dream jobs are a funny thing. For many of us, they provide a wonderful someday goal — perhaps making a dreary workday fly by more quickly. So maybe we never really have to find our dreams — just know they are out there one day waiting for us.
For some of us, our dream job really is all we ever imagined. Although part of the luck may include being realistic about what a “dream job” requires of us. It’s never all fun and often takes more work than initially imagined to keep the dream part alive. But oh so worth it if you can make the pieces fit.
And if things aren’t quite so dreamy:
Types of dream jobs
Not all people see dream jobs in the same way. For many, the words “dream job” refer to a job based on a long-time passion. But for others it might simply be about THE STUFF. Salary. Cushy fringe benefits. A very cool working environment. All regardless of the actual work.
And then for some, the company itself is the draw. Again, even if the job isn’t all that exciting, you feel great when you tell friends and family what you do — and where you do it. But for others that would not be a dream at all. Clearly, one person’s dream job could be another person’s nightmare.
And then there are the more traditional dream jobs, where you get paid to use skills / talents that you love. Even in a kind of boring company, you might be in a department where you get to do things you love. Graphic art. Public speaking. Helping revitalize a neighborhood. Social media. Web development.
What role does a dream job play in YOUR dream life?
Is it a leading role or a bit player? When a job is based so much on passion, as dream jobs often are, it’s easy to get caught up in your work. So much so, you make it the number one — and maybe number two and three — priority in your life. And you do this at the cost of time and energy not spent elsewhere.
So the real challenge is, even beyond finding that dream job, how do you balance a dream job with the rest of your life. If you spend all your time and energy getting there — to the exclusion of all else at times — what do you have left when you get there?
And if you don’t make it your number one priority, won’t other people who are willing to do that climb over you? How do you find the work-life balance in the quest for that dream job? And once you get there, is it a dream life?
MORE from The Atlantic: Workism Is Making Americans Miserable
So what if you never find your dream job?
Dream jobs can be a wonderful thing. A blessing for those who actually find them and make them work. But it’s easy to confuse dream job with dream life. Are they really the same? I know people whose jobs are interesting, but certainly not anyone’s imagined dream job.
But when you look closely at their whole life — family, friends, time for personal interests — their lives look pretty darn good. And if you ask them if they are happy, they say “yes!”
In contrast, not all people pursuing that sometimes elusive dream career are all that happy. True, there may be glorious moments of happiness and fulfillment. And for some people that may be more than enough. Each person is different. But odds are a dream job alone will not make you happy.
Still, if you do have a passion to pursue, by all means go for it. Just make sure you check in frequently to keep the other parts of your life nurtured and well fed. While I know that can be hard to do, putting all your eggs in one basket can make for a very dull (and lonely) omelet.
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