What Is Your Dream Job?
Do you feel like you’re at a dead end road in your search for your “dream job”? It can be really frustrating. I know from personal experience as this is an obstacle I’ve faced a couple of times over the past 20 years.
Most of us start off all wrong when we set out to do work that matters to us. In the online space today, there are a lot of people on the internet who will encourage you to start your own business or do your “own thing”. And that’s fine…for some people. But not everyone is an entrepreneur, and honestly, most people probably shouldn’t become one. It’s terrifying and risky, but can also be exhilarating and rewarding.
The truth is that you don’t have to start your own business to be happy doing work that you love. You can find happiness working under someone else’s roof. But the first step is to identify the work that “makes you sparkle,” as a friend of mine says.
Don’t focus on the job, focus on what lights you up inside and out.
How to Identify Your Perfect Job
We categorize an occupation by position and tasks performed. Here are some examples.
Administrative Assistant – answers phones, clerical tasks
Sales Consultant – prospects for new business, maintains client accounts
CEO – manages the direction of the company, creates and manages strategic plans for increasing revenue and overall brand performance.
Think about your current (or most recent) title. Whatever it is…is that really what you do?
The answer is probably “no.” We all do a variety of tasks, but the value we provide is in the outcomes that are created (for the company or the customer) as a result of those efforts.
So, when it comes to your ideal job, the important thing is to focus on identifying the outcomes that you provide for your customers or the company. Focus on your skills versus your position or the set of tasks you do each day.
What are the results you produce?
What do people–inside and outside the company–praise you for? What are you “known” for? On of my friends became known as the “brainstorm guru” at her job. She was a marketer but loved conducting group discussions and so she gained a reputation as a skilled brainstorm facilitator.
Those who succeed clearly understand the outcomes they create, are able to articulate the value of those outcomes, and do so with passion, dedication and consistency.
What are the values you hold?
This is another area that lacked clarity for me. I didn’t really know what I valued. I had a vague idea of what made me happy at work and the parts of my jobs that I really enjoyed. But I didn’t have a clear picture of the concrete values that I held.
Maybe you feel the same way or have been there too. Let me share what helped me gain clarity. Here’s a “big picture” principle to start with.
You will never uncover what you value without discovering
in the same moment that which you hold dispensable.
What I’m really saying is you don’t know what you like until you know what you don’t like. The understanding of your values comes from understanding what you do not enjoy. For example, I found that being tied to a desk for 7.5 hours doing the same thing over and over is torture to me. (I did telemarketing when I was 16)
Therefore, I found that I value flexibility. I’ve also learned that I value creativity, connection, collaboration and variety. I get bored quickly once I’ve become good at my job because I’m generally able to assimilate information and hone a set of skills pretty quickly. Then, I’m ready for a new challenge.
Think about your own situation. What are the things that drove you crazy from jobs in your past (or your current job)? Are you able to clearly articulate your values from those experiences?
The more specific you can be, the better. Here’s another example. I learned that I value collaboration, connection and creativity, so I thought coaching would be ideal for me. I set out to do some coaching and see what kinds of insights I could help people uncover.
I was pretty good at it, but I learned that it drained me mentally and emotionally. I loved the creativity and collaboration, but it stifled my value of variety and flexibility.
The only way to uncover the values you hold most important is to dive into expressing them. Most people stop when they come up against an experience the perceive as negative. Embrace what you don’t like about the situation realizing that it’s teaching you what you really do want to experience. Bless the lesson. Without it, you wouldn’t have context or clarity of what you want in your life.
Enrich Your Quality of Life by Honoring Your Values
First of all, this process of learning to articulate the value you bring to an organization and learning the personal values you hold to is an ongoing endeavor. Don’t fear it. Don’t judge the process. Allow it and decide not to resist it.
Once you have uncovered the core values you hold to, it’s time to begin looking for work that will enrich your quality of life by honoring those values.
1. Start Where You Are
Some people make a mistake of completely jumping ship when they are unhappy in their work situation. This is the path of greatest resistance because you’re avoiding the discomfort of unhappiness, but you inadvertently take it with you. And decisions made in this state are often made unconsciously rather than intentionally.
So start where you are. Tell the truth about your situation. Think about what bothers you and why and make note of that. It may even help to journal this process so you have a record of your thoughts. Keeping a journal can also bring clarity to your thought process.
Another way to “start where you are” is to look for ways you can do more of what you love right where you are. When you recognize your core values, you will feel empowered because you will feel more clear about your intention. Immediately look for a way to exercise and honor that value.
Once I recognized I value variety and flexibility, I immediately went to work to bring more of that into a poor work environment I’d previously felt trapped in. My job required that I be at my desk processing patient records, answering and making phone calls.
How can I bring variety and flexibility to this situation? I wondered.
Soon, I realized that I’d been wanting to improve my Spanish fluency. I found a radio station that had an online broadcast, and I started listening to 2-3 hours of Spanish talk radio each day. It provided variety in the middle of the monotony of the tasks of my job.
I would also get up regularly and take a short 5 minute walk around the basement corridors of the hospital where I worked. It was a little thing, but it was my way of honoring my value of flexibility.
You can do the same thing. It doesn’t have to be drastic. Take little steps…the step you can see right in front of you. If you’ll do that, then the bigger steps will soon reveal themselves.
2. Focus Your Energy Toward Your Goal
As you begin to take the small steps, begin to open your mind and heart to the possibility of your circumstances changing drastically. Fight the urge to get attached to how this could or should unfold.
Of course, you should continue to dedicate yourself to your current position. In fact, your job performance and energy will often improve once you start to focus on your bigger goal because you’ll feel the transitory nature of your current circumstances.
You’ll begin to create internal motion even if the external situation hasn’t changed very much. That’s okay. It’s impossible for your external situation to remain constant once the shift has happened internally. Trust that knowledge and bring joy to the process.
What can you do practically?
Begin to think about the types of jobs that would fulfill your values. Maybe get a few trusted friends together and ask them to help you brainstorm jobs that fit the bill when it comes to what you value. You might be surprised at the variety and range of jobs that could work for you.
Think about famous people in business and life–living or dead. Think of people who had similar personalities as you have. Think about the people who stand out to you in history and life. What types of jobs did they do? What were their creative endeavors?
Do any of those stand out to you? Begin to think about the type of job you want to do. Do any of the occupations you’ve identified trigger a “gut” response for you? (Yep, this would be a good time to check in with your gut)
Follow that intuition. See what you can learn about these jobs. Talk to people who do them see what they love (or don’t love so much) about their industry or career.
A Final Word About Passion
Purpose is what you say it is. It’s your life. You get to define it. You decide what gives it meaning. This is the “last great human freedom” Frankl teaches us.
Your passion should encompass your work and all of your life. Don’t make the mistake of thinking that your passion should fit only in your job or occupation. Let it overflow all over your life. Find hobbies. Build relationships. Create art. Live it!