The Wall Street Journal recently ran an article in their Career section entitled When Your Dream Job Disappoints, How to Find Plan B (subtitled Key Tasks: Overcome Disappointment, Make the Most of Your Skills) http://bit.ly/1ffrpsr. Thinking about pursuing a “dream job” in today’s world of work, where most Americans are working longer hours in the office and on our smart phones early mornings, late nights and weekends, can overwhelm us. Most of us are working harder for less.
After years of planning, preparing and perhaps paying for an extra degree, you finally land your dream job—and discover you don’t like it. It’s a surprisingly common dilemma. The idea of a “dream job” is drilled into job seekers these days. Increasingly, people expect to find jobs that provide not only a living but also stimulation, emotional fulfillment and a sense of purpose. The image of a career as a source of passion is promoted by career advisers, self-help books and even the glamorous characters in TV dramas. But fantasies about a job can blind job-seekers to workaday realities and to consideration of the best fit.
“Workaday realities” being what they are, finding emotional fulfillment and a sense of purpose from our professional lives is increasingly rare. The desire to have a “dream job” or even a fulfilling job is ever changing as we mature as professionals. A dream job at 25 is quite different from a dream job at 50. Some people reach their 50s with a successful track record in business and find themselves wanting to give back and make a difference in the world. Whereas someone’s “dream job” once was a high-paying Wall St. position by her/his mid-50s it might be the case that becoming a semi-retired philanthropist is where fulfillment lies.
Having gone through the recession many professionals are just getting back on their feet and might be thinking about moving into a more fulfilling role. This often requires changing industries or careers which is not an easy feat in today’s marketplace. Hiring managers and HR recruiters often look at a prospective candidate in a narrow fashion – if you have not done this exact job, worked in this industry before – you will not be considered… especially with so many people applying for the same (and sometimes scares) opportunities.
I finished reading Ken Robinson’s book The Element, and as I coach people making career transitions while growing and developing my own freelance business, I am thinking a lot about what is called for in pursing our dreams. It requires a big, bold performance; we have to be fearless and resilient in the face of uncertainty.
When we pursue a new job or a career transition or a “dream job” we have to get comfortable with a new script for a new character. It is a creative activity of interweaving our past experiences with where we are currently at and envisioning / performing who we are becoming; who do we dream we might be?
How do you go about crafting this bold performance? Start with your passion and your capabilities. Give yourself permission to be bold. Reach out for creative input and direction from friends, colleagues, and mentors. Be playful! Someone suggested that I wear an invisible cloak to client meetings with my Wonder Woman costume underneath. At first that seemed a bit silly but I decided to “put on the cloak and the costume” and I do believe it helped me to be bold!