CAREER DEVELOPMENT / DEC. 11, 2015
version 9, draft 9

Dream Job: Reality or a Myth

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I think there’s a pretty strong argument that many of us are in our dream jobs already. It is just that for some, the dream in question is the one where you arrive at school and wonder why everyone is pointing at you, before looking down to realise you’re not wearing any trousers. Or the one with the endless tunnels, which wind and twist their way for ever, regardless of how long you run down them. But as you might have guessed, I am no trained psychotherapist.

See Also: 10 Signs You Have Found Your Dream Job

My point is that few of us are in what we would traditionally describe as a ’dream job’. More and more people these days work for necessity, rather than through a vocation. Besides, not knowing what you want to be when you grow up is part of the Millennial curse and although bad jobs can prepare you for your dream job – most of us don’t even know what we are looking for.

Do so few of us that track down a dream job because the concept of a dream job is simply a myth?

Are dream jobs trapped there in our vivid imaginations with the unicorns and the tooth fairy, or are they a reality that is worth pursuing?

The Myth of a Dream Job

It can feel like you are under a lot of pressure when you’re looking for that one ’perfect’ job. And if that’s you right now, then don’t panic - it will work out. It will work out because you’re smart and eminently employable, but more so because there is no such thing as one perfect job for any single person.

Dream jobs are a myth. The very idea is right up there with Santa Claus, an invented concept to promote a certain sort of behaviour. In the case of Santa Claus, the desired effect is to have kids behave well through the year - remember, he knows if you have been naughty or nice!

When it comes to a dream job, it is a concept designed to keep us thinking there is something better out there while we are currently stuck in a dead end job. That’s admirable enough, but it can crank the pressure up to eleven if you are thinking that a dream solution is about to be delivered on a plate to you, and you start to question why it has not turned up yet.

The truth about job hunting is that we make smart bets and then make the best of them. When we are lucky they turn into dream jobs, but they weren’t necessarily that way by default.

Looking for a dream job is very much like thinking that there is one (and presumably only one) soulmate out there for you. Aussie comic Tim Minchin talks/sings about how, despite the fact he’s perfectly happy in his relationship, it’s statistically improbable that he met the one and only girl for him aged 17 at a high school in Perth.

The same is true about your dream job. It’s statistically improbable that there is only one perfect fit job for any of us. Jobs are what you make them!

But that should not send you into a spiral of despair. On the contrary. It should be a liberating discovery. If you know that you’re not going to find anything completely perfect, then you start looking for something that is a good fit instead.

Turning Your ’It’ll Do’ Job Into a Dream Job

So - no dream jobs - that’s a bad thing, right? Well, not really.

For a start it means that there are probably a whole load of jobs that you could take and turn into something special. It should encourage you to keep an open mind about what sort of role will work for you - as well as being a bit realistic, that there are very few jobs that are practically perfect in every way.

All jobs come with some irritating bits, and minimising and overcoming these is the best bet, rather than looking over at the grass on the other side of the fence and wistfully thinking that it’s greener. If you find something annoying in your job, then don’t just cut and run, see what you can do to fix the problems. Talk them out, figure out what you actually want and how best you can get it in situ. It won’t always be possible, but imagining that there is something perfect waiting for you is a sure fire way to get performance anxiety. What if you’re missing out, right now, and you don’t even know it?

To bring it back to the relationships theme, you’re not looking for your one and only soulmate, you’re looking for someone that gives you something special and with whom you can grow.

Partners are not often perfect at first, but that shouldn’t stop you if you see potential in someone and the possibility to grow together. There is a spark there but you are not necessarily looking for the full package. It’s not to say you simply settle. Quite the opposite. Imagine what Mark Zuckerberg was like at college? Nerd in a hoodie, stuck behind a computer all day and night. But he might be a more enticing proposition now, with his gajilion dollar fortune.

Finding a perfect job for you might require you to be open minded. Try some options that might not seem to tick every single last box and just see how they shape up. Nothing is forever, after all, and every job is a learning experience. Just like those dates. Date the geeky kid and see if you hit it off. You never know - your ugly duckling might turn out to be a swan. A really, really rich swan.

See Also: Is a Dream Job Really Millennials’ Top Priority 

Dream jobs are a myth meant to keep you looking for something better, and believing that there is something out there (just around the corner) that will make up for putting up with all your current boss’ bullshit.

If you take the idea of a ’dream’ job out of the equation you’re forced to actually evaluate the specifics of what you want from a role. What suits you in terms of team fit, company ethos, tasks and working environment. When you do this, instead of just vaguely thinking that something will come along and just ’click’, you put yourself back in control.

You can shape a role to become more like your idea of a ’dream’ once you have figured out what that actually looks like in tangible terms. Even if the job you are doing right now is more likely to appear in your nightmares, that is not to say that it could not be improved and made more in line with your wishes. Just make sure they are actionable, realistic and thought through, rather than built on wildly hopeful assumptions about what you might land.

So what I’m saying is this - if you’re currently worrying about finding the perfect job - relax! The perfect job probably doesn’t exist, BUT there are probably a dozen jobs out there that could be made into perfect positions over time. Keep an open mind, and keep smiling.

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