How to work out your dream job
We’ve all got a dream job, right? Sometimes the details of this fantasy life tend to be a bit on the hazy side though. We know it involves happiness and satisfaction, inspiration and achievements, but working out what our actual dream job is is just one of life’s great, unanswerable conundrums, isn’t it?
The majority of us fall into a career as a wide-eyed, bushy-tailed graduate. Then we work within that field for years without really questioning if we enjoy it.
It’s a pattern led by gratitude for having a job in the first place and not knowing what we want to do. We take the first thing that comes along and then get a bit... well, stuck.
It’s an easy rabbit hole to go down and one that is hard to imagine getting out of, let alone attempting make any dream job a reality.
The rate of engagement
According to Forbes, globally only 30% of us are fully engaged in our jobs.
This level of engagement is not only detrimental to our level of performance at work, but can carry over into our personal lives, leaving us with a feeling of wanting more and not knowing how to find it.
This is where the dreaming comes in. As we sit at our desks with our brains in constant ‘what if’ mode, our minds wander to a place much happier than our current reality. But how many of us are actively trying to change our current position and, ultimately, well-being?
To all the realists out there
With the plethora of online platforms offering learning facilities, networking opportunities, as well as more companies encouraging personal improvement, landing your dream job might not be so hard after all...
Jobs, jobs everywhere
It seems new jobs roles are cropping up by the bucket load and the number of options and avenues available to us is a veritable professional pick ’n mix. With this level of choice and not really having a clue what you might like, it can be hard to start narrowing down what your dream job could be.
To make things worse, it seems like you’re surrounded by people who either have their dream job or have concocted a clean cut, dream job plan of action.
Social media is always to blame
By incessantly following everyone’s showreel of their seemingly perfect lives, we’re only making ourselves more envious, putting ourselves under more pressure and showing ourselves exactly what we’re not doing with our lives in a self-sabotaging way. I’m looking at you, LinkedIn, Instagram, Facebook and Twitter.
Hands up, who doesn’t like their job?
If you put your hand up, it’s OK, you’re not alone.
Despite spending over 90,000 hours on average at work over our lifetimes, only 17% of us have jobs that we actually love. Thanks to a YouGov survey for this stat.
Amongst this data, it was discovered that one in 10 Brits admitted to doing a job they dislike. My question is, if we’re all so unhappy in our day-to-day, what’s stopping us from making a change?
We’re clearly dreamers
In the past month, the term ‘best jobs in the world’ has been searched over 18,000 times. It’s a term that’s seen a steady plateau of popularity over the past 12 months, as we attempt to search for the answers.
The most popular jobs to show up currently are:
- Professional cuddler
- Netflix watcher
- Luxury bed tester
- Private island caretaker
But would we actually enjoy any of these jobs? Or do we want to have the coolest jobs in the world just to appear, well, cool?
A job for show vs. for satisfaction
As humans, we have an innate need to be liked and respected. The search terms above prove that what some of us are craving isn’t our dream job, but a need for constant validation in society. The use of ‘best’ and ‘coolest’ gave us pretty big hints here.
This is called praise addition and unless any of the above jobs are our actual life’s dream, it seems a lot of us are capable of engaging in it.
Sure, telling someone that you have a cool job or work at a great company works for a while, but the satisfaction tends to wear off pretty quickly.
I know, I’ve been there.
Last year, I worked at the biggest and ‘coolest’ fashion company in the UK, doing a job I’d always wanted to do, but the job’s pride ended at telling people where I worked. In reality, I was bored out of my skull. It went on for nine months before I quit in search of something better.
If you go to work to impress others, you’re doing it for the wrong reasons. Your job should fill you to the brim with fulfilment, not just money and bragging rights.
This is evident across the country, with 64% of people admitting they would rather have a job that they were passionate about compared to one that pays well.
The eternal struggle
So many of us settle for ‘just OK’ because finding out what our dream job is and then going to get it is so hard. But why do we struggle so much?
Apart from not having a ruddy clue what we want to do, there is a myriad of other reasons that put us off applying for jobs, even when we do know what we want to do.
This is probably the main reason. We may be comfortable with the amount we’re earning and don’t wish to jeopardise that or we don’t have the money to discover something new. Maybe we don't have the funds to support moving to a more junior level as part of a career change.
When asked by LinkedIn, 42% of people said lack of confidence would put them off applying for another job. The inability to believe in ourselves can be a huge hindrance when wishing to take the leap.
The ‘wrong path’ fear
The thought of attempting to go down a different route and it being the wrong move is enough to scare us out of doing it. Not being able to back out and return to our old life is then layered on top of that original fear.
But it doesn’t have to be a struggle and there are ways to combat each of these factors little-by-little.
A step-by-step guide to finding your dream job
As with anything huge and scary, you can either do it in baby steps or you can throw yourself in at the deep end and sink or swim.
There’s no right or wrong way to achieving your dream job, just different paths.
But, hopefully by taking a few simple steps, it'll clear that dream job fog enough to help you on your journey.
Start asking questions
By now, you’ve probably come to the realisation that you actually don’t want to be a professional Netflix watcher, so what on earth do you want to do?
The best thing to do at this juncture is to start questioning. Sit down and interview yourself. Not only what you want to do, but why you want to do it and how you’re going to achieve it.
Try breaking the questions down into 3 categories: skills, values and strengths. What are they and how do I want to use them? Make a list of answers under each of these and you’re away.
Questions include, but are not limited to:
What truly makes you happy?
This could involve helping people, animals, the outdoors, numbers. I can’t tell you what makes you happy, but you should start to make a comprehensive list every time you think of something. Then ask yourself why you like it and how you could incorporate it into a job. What jobs exist already involving this passion?
What do you want to achieve?
This is a career bucket list if you will.
Where do you see yourself in 5 years time?
The most dreaded interview question. Have you ever really properly thought about the answer though? In an age of non-committal millennials running the workforce, I know I certainly haven’t, but making a future vision of yourself could help you materialise some sort of plan.
Really picture the scenario. For instance, what age will you be in 5 years? Do you plan to be in the same city? With the same hobbies? And the same bobblehead collectible decorating your desk? That little detail should spark your imagination and begin to get the aspiration train moving.
Once you have a vague idea and you’re feeling excited about the prospects, create a plan of actionable goals.
Maybe what you really want to do is start a cake baking business. Great! I’m going to need to see a 5-year business plan, as well as a to-do list including such things as: set the company up with Companies House, apply for a food license, scope out the competition, etc.
This level of research and organisation will stand you in good stead for what’s to come, what to expect and give you a play-by-play of what you’ll need to do to get there.
Do work experience
I’m 27 and I undertook two weeks of work experience earlier this year. Apart from being asked, ‘so, are you a student?’ on a couple of occasions, it was no different from the work experience I did when I was 17. In fact, it was invaluable. It gave me a more sure idea of the types of things I would want from my everyday life and helped me cross off some things I didn’t want.
When I had an existential crisis: career edition, I sat down for an evening and went through a list of every job there is in the world. Through a process of elimination, I narrowed them down based on jobs I could theoretically achieve in my lifetime, weren’t too farfetched and were something I think I’d enjoy. You’d be surprised how many jobs are out there that you didn’t even know existed.
Be willing to sacrifice
Dreams take sacrifice a lot of the time. This may mean using up your holiday time to find out what you really want to do or working hard learning something new to get there. It could mean moving country, moving in with family to save money, all of these things need to be considered and weighed up.
Talk to someone who has your dream job
Log on to LinkedIn and find a bunch of people who are doing what you want to do and get in contact. Grill them about the pros and cons of their job and ask them why they do what they do. The answers could shock you.
Dreaming an impossible dream
If you follow these steps, hopefully before long you'll be able to make some kind of action plan and get the dream job ball rolling. Have confidence in your ambitions. Don't be afraid to admit what your dream job is. Go for it!