When it comes to doing what you really want to be doing for a living — not the thing you got sucked into doing right after you graduated, not the thing your spouse hopes you’ll grin and bear until the kids are through college, not the thing that makes the “suck it up, buttercup” memes so applicable to you — all you need is a dream and a plan. Really– that’s all it takes.
Fear not; transitioning from your nightmare job (or even your beige job) to a dream job isn’t as daunting as you might think, especially after breaking down a couple of common career myths.
Myth #1: DRAMA. Pursuing your dream job means leaving it all behind in a cloud of dust.
Or moving somewhere exotic to wax surfboards or making any relative over 50 think you’ve really lost it this time.
Making a career change does involve determination and courage, but not necessarily a full-on detonation of one’s current life in a grand swoop of impulsive and reckless abandon. (No judgment is intended if your dream job does happen to involve moving to Bali to wax surfboards, and when can I come visit?)
Ryan*, a delightfully go-getting 26 year-old client, made a shift into his dream job this year – not a nosedive. Climbing the ladder of a large financial services institution in a slow yet steady pace was what he expected a few years out of college. What he didn’t expect was to be so disillusioned with the way things worked in the big machine he perceived himself to be a part of.
He dreamed of a job in a company with a true cultural fit (less politics, more relationships). He identified his dream company, deliberately pursued them, got hired, and now enjoys working for people whom he admires and can have a beer with at the end of a long day of collaborative, challenging work. Sometimes making your dream job a reality can be as simple as shifting your very same job description to a very different company.
Myth #2: PAIN. Pursuing your dream job is hard, and expensive, and so therefore impossible.
You know what’s really hard? Tolerating a job year after year when you know you’d rather be doing something else. (Just ask your family and friends how much of a joy you are to be around and you’ll get an idea of what hard really means.)
Janelle* floundered (on the inside) for 15 years as an account executive in her family’s printing business, fantasizing about becoming a teacher while stuck on alternating beliefs that she didn’t have enough time or money to return to school, that she was too old, and that it was simply impossible. When she stopped to really assess what things could look like in her life as a teacher and given that it was undeniably spectacular, all she needed was a plan to turn her fantasy into reality. After systematically analyzing the facts and details (expenses, time commitments, whether she could work part-time with her family), she shifted into action mode and created her dream job as a second grade teacher in the town she grew up in.
“This was a tough few years, going back to school and having to borrow money. But now that I’m doing what I know I was meant to be doing, I would have spent twice as much time and money at school to get to do this. I get to do this,” she said.
That’s the thing with dream jobs: it’s usually up to us to create them. Dream jobs don’t usually come knocking when we’re stuck in the muck of mediocre careers. We need to give them credence. We need to let ourselves dream about how things could be, then muster up the confidence and courage to put a well thought-out plan in motion. Let’s stop letting the mystery of how to make our dreams a reality intimidate us into settling for lackluster lives.
These guys said it best: “All your dreams can come true if you have the courage to pursue them.” – Walt Disney
“Go confidently in the direction of your dreams! Live the life you’ve imagined,” – Henry David Thoreau
And W.H. Auden gets the last word: “You owe it to all of us to get on with what you’re good at.” So get on with it!
* Client names have been changed, because obviously.