Is finding a dream job just a dream?
It pretty important to know how we want to ideally spend 83,200 hours of our life. I spent some time looking into this question.
My thoughts are a bit contrary to popular opinion. I’ll be very direct
Stop looking for your dream job.
There are tons of articles out there that discuss the opposite (you can find some in the links below). There are many courses about how to find your dream job. Heck, I even bought a domain name about finding a dream job in anticipation of creating a course about the topic. After looking into many methods and theories I’ve come to the opinion that going out to find a dream job is mostly an illusion.
The reality of landing a job
Work is still work regardless of where and what you are doing. We are sweet talked into an almost perfect package and given just enough benefits to make us feel secure. Keyword is feel.
The reality of a dream job (assuming it exists)
In the ideal sense of a dream job I would be sitting on the beach sipping a pina colada, getting paid to watch the waves flow. I would feel the breeze run over my semi bald head and take in the fresh air. That would be the dream, right. The reality is If I were paid to do that I would be bored in 10 days. Wouldn’t you?
We need work, we need to be engaged, we need to feel like we are doing something that matters. Rather than looking for a dream job what you should do is:
Find work that brings you joy or discover joy in the work that you are doing now.
Below are some steps to get you going:
1. Know where you stand.
It’s vague, I know. What I mean by that is understanding the background that drives you to work. Knowing your care about and drivers will allow you to narrow down the possibilities of work that will bring you joy.
Take inventory of your
- work style
- experiences that have brought you joy
NOTE: I’ve developed a collection of worksheets around these inventories. Message me if you would like to receive a copy.
An example: Integrity is one of my core values. When I work for a company or do a job for a client have to check if the company is holding true to what they say they are and what they say they do. I also need to know if my values are in harmony with where the company is going. If it feels out of tune I will get physically ill. Really.
2. What’s your stinky tofu?
This is China reference. for those who don’t know, stinky tofu is fried tofu cubes that smell horrible. It will hit you like a brick if you standing if the wind blows your way and there is a tofu stand in your path. However, this snack is also very tasty. If you can get past the smell then you will have a nice reward.
Work is the same way. All work stinks in some shape or form. Some work is worth it. This is an individual choice. PR professionals work long hours, take chaotic changes from clients, and battle busyness all day long. And they love it. Not everyone can do it. Not everyone should do it.
What are you willing to go through in order to have a small reward on the end? What kind of work would be worth embracing what stinks around?
For me, creating guides and courses that wake people up and inspire them to get moving is totally worth it.
The stink: admin, accounting work, keeping up with sales/marketing, no steady paycheck at the moment, occasional surge of fear, anxiety and doubt.
The good taste: Working with a person 1-on-1 to breakthrough their stress and anxiety is work that matters to me. Being with a group of people and facilitating them through learning and change feels right.
3. Actively reach out to the places you want to be.
Don’t wait for a job to be posted. Most of the good positions are never advertised. Start connecting and contacting people that work for the companies that align with your values and work style. Who you know becomes important when you are looking for meaningful work.
Some practical steps:
- Make a list of 5 companies that fit your criteria.
- Determine if you know anyone in those companies that can give you some insight.
- If you know someone, reach out and buy them a coffee to learn more about the company
- If you don’t, find a way to meet a recruiter or leader in that company. LinkedIN can be a powerful tool for this. Join a common interest group.
- Send an email requesting a interview. YES you can do this. The Muse offers some excellent tips about the art of asking for an informational interview. I’ll highlight the key points
How to ask for an informational interview
- Ask for help – Literally say something like, “I’m really hoping you’ll be able to help me out…” or “I’d love your help…”
- Be clear – ask for something specific like, “I’d love to take you out for a tea”
- Have a hook – demonstrate why you want to meet with them by connecting to what makes them stand out.
- Be super considerate – lay down a line or two that appreciates them taking time out of their busy schedule.
- Don’t seem desperate for a job – you get the point.
I remember in college I reached out to Ty Howard because I admired what he was doing in the speaking industry. I had a breakfast chat with him and it ended up becoming an internship that taught me so much.
4. Start a mini project
Things start to happen when you decide to wake up and get going. Even if you are in a job you don’t like so much, start something that would bring you joy. 9 times out of 10 no one will stand in your way if it is adding value. This is an effective way to make your current work more meaningful.
How to do it?
- find a problem that disturbs you in your office, team or company
- make a list of people and resources you need to create a solution or execute on that solution
- Get around those people and see if they have interest in working on the project.
- Go do it.
- Tell people about the great solution you are creating.
- Celebrate the small wins as you progress.
Work that brings joy begins with us.
BAM! Go do it.
Oh yea… if you haven’t done so already, subscribe to my newsletter
https://hbr.org/2009/10/top-ten-ways-to-find-joy-at-wo.html – top 10 ways to find joy at work