Many of us have thought about our dream job at different points in our lives. Some sought that job early in their careers, hoping it could sustain them through their working years. Some imagined they might have the luxury of having that job later in life, during retirement years. For others, the ‘dream’ part of the equation keeps changing as they build competencies and mature. Still, for others the dream came when they were young and full of folly.
When I was 10, I wanted to be a veterinarian. I adored dogs – especially my little cockapoo named Noire – and had always been fascinated by medicine. Veterinary medicine was the perfect combination…it was my dream job. Two years later, I did an unpaid internship with the local vet and was convinced I knew my calling. My high school courses were tailored to get me into the University of California, Davis as an animal science major. After two quarters, I changed majors to French and linguistics. So much for my dream job.
Now what was I supposed to do? After going to business school and working in a few different industries and functions, I reimagined my dream job to be where I am now – a partner at executive search network Amrop Knightsbridge. After all, we all have the ability to create jobs and roles that suit us. What really constitutes one’s dream job tends to be one or more of the following characteristics:
- Use of skills or talents
- Service to others
- Fame, notoriety, legacy
Could it be that your dream job isn’t as elusive as it seems? It could be right under your nose. Here are five tips to get closer to identifying and creating your dream job:
1. Assess who you are today. We sometimes hold on to dreams from our past to escape from our present reality. Those dreams can provide insight into callings or longings that we need to acknowledge. Write down past dreams to explore what you can let go of and what you can learn from and leverage.
2. Dispense with other people’s dreams. Did your mother want you to be a doctor or did your father want you to take over the family business? There can be real pressures that make it hard to distinguish what you want from what others expect from or impose on you. It might mean having a tough conversation, but do it, lovingly but firmly.
3. Realize you’re multi-dimensional. We often beat ourselves up, thinking we should pick just one career and stick with it for life. Give yourself the freedom to change course as you grow and mature. Be thoughtful and strategic, assessing your capabilities and competencies along the way. Have one or more stretch roles in a couple of industries or functions that you assess yourself against.
4. Integrate passions. It’s often said that if you love what you do, it isn’t work. The common refrain has to do with being able to make a living. You may never get that big acting role that makes you a megastar. However, you can find gratifying work to make a good living and participate in the community theater or serve on an arts board. Never quell the passion; listen when your heart sings.
5. Learn to live in the moment. As a child, I always wanted to be older to get to where I saw myself being. At some point, I realized I might be missing out on some enjoyment, lessons and richness by looking to the future and not appreciating the present. Engage, give and express gratitude for where you are right now.
At all costs, do dream. Recall with fondness when you were 10 and full of dreams. Harness the power of your dreams; combine that power with the understanding that you are the creator of your work destiny. Be in your dream job…now.