Do you love going to work every day? Chances are, your answer to that question is either an enthusiastic “yes” or a hearty laugh and a “yeah, right.” I wish there weren’t so many people in the latter camp.
Believe it or not, having a job you love is not a pipe dream. If it is, then please don’t wake me up.
No, dream jobs are not reserved for the lucky, the well-financed, or the ones with Ivy League diplomas. Not by a long shot. Believe it or not, your dream job is within your reach. I’ve outlined some of the most important tips to help you find your way. But be warned: The advice is brutally honest. But I’m sure you’ll find it as helpful as it is frank.
First, don’t be an idiot.
Following your heart and chasing your dream job can sound pretty fluffy. But following your heart doesn’t mean you should abandon common sense. Take your time. Plan wisely. Calculate your risks and act accordingly. If you currently have a less-than-stellar job that at least pays the bills, it’s ok to stick with it until your “evil plan” is ready to be unleashed. It’s not an all-or-nothing proposition. Reach for your dream, but don’t be an idiot.
Oftentimes, people look at their current situation, compare it to their dream career, and become totally overwhelmed. They focus on all of the things that would need to to occur in order to make that future dream a reality. The chasm looks too wide, the change too great. Dejected, they tell themselves that their current lot isn’t so bad after all, and settle for a life of silent disappointment.
The secret lies in the old saying about how to eat an elephant. I’m not sure what elephants taste like, or why you’d ever want to eat one, but the answer, of course, is one bite at a time. Don’t overwhelm yourself with the big picture and all of the details. Just take one bite. If you look objectively at your situation, there’s always one thing that makes sense as the next bite. It might be a tiny bite, but after that, another bite will present itself. Before you know it, you’ll have eaten the whole thing. *Burp*
Don’t focus on the losers.
It’s easy to scan your surroundings and find all sorts of people who have failed in their attempt at a dream. For the love of God, don’t use this as evidence to support why YOU can’t succeed! The history of mankind is filled with people who found a way to succeed when others around them failed. Perhaps they worked just a little bit longer to find the solution. Or maybe they used their creativity to find a different path.
Learn from the people who have failed. What did they do wrong? What didn’t they try? But never, never, never let those failures cause you to believe that success isn’t possible. If a trail hasn’t yet been blazed, then blaze your own. If you have an interesting mix of skills, think about how you might be able to combine them to offer something completely new. For instance, many cartoonists don’t like public speaking very much, and most professional speakers can’t draw. I’ve been able to combine these two skills (along with some others) to offer something unique to the market. The bottom line is this: just because someone hasn’t succeeded in some area doesn’t mean success is not possible.
Give up on the perfect.
To the restless souls who may be reading this, I’d like to point out that there are no perfect jobs. Even the jobs that seem perfect have their annoyances and difficulties. The power and money is nice, but presidents have to deal with busy schedules and lots of headaches and professional athletes endure rigorous training and endless travel.
Now please don’t misunderstand me. This is not a free pass to stay trapped in a job that you know could be better. But don’t waste your time flitting from one career to the next just because you have the false expectation of finding the perfect situation completely void of hassles and boredom. Not gonna happen.
Beware the almighty benefits.
I cannot tell you how many people choose to stay in their current soul-sucking, black-pit-of-death job solely for the benefits package.
Because we’re self-employed, Kim and I pay for our own health insurance. Self-funded health insurance can be expensive, and adding on maternity benefits costs an arm, a leg, and a house in the Hamptons. Naturally, this caused some concern as we contemplated starting a family.
Armed with the knowledge that we certainly were not the first couple to ever have a child without the almighty benefits, we did some research. To make a long story short, we looked into the actual costs involved with delivering a baby and all the assorted tests and doctor visits. We discovered that if we put a certain amount into savings each month, we’d actually come out farther ahead than if we paid the monthly premiums to add maternity coverage to our current health plan.
So that’s what we did. And we found a birth center that we fell in love with which allowed payment plans and discounts for pre-payment. Ultimately, all of the pregnancy and birth costs were completely paid in full before we welcomed our first child into the world.
Just one example that where there’s a will there’s a way. Please don’t stay in a job you hate just for the benefits. You’re worth more than that.
Risk is a requirement.
In order to achieve your dreams, some kind of risk will be required. It might be financial, physical, emotional, or all of the above. As I write this, big chunks of the global economy are in the tank. A down economy usually makes people shrink back from taking risks and trying new things. But ironically, sometimes that’s the best time to start a business. Opportunities are everywhere. When people are experiencing problems or pain, and you can step in with a solution, you will be very much in demand.
Don’t use the economy (or anything else, for that matter) as an excuse to stand pat and avoid a risk. There will never be a perfect time to make the leap. Believe me, you won’t have to try too hard to find some reason why it’s better off staying right where you are. But ships weren’t built to stay in the harbor. Eventually, you need to push away from your comfort zone to experience the exhilaration of an open sea adventure.
Listen to the guy upstairs.
I would be remiss if I didn’t mention my belief that unless you’re in line with the Big Guy Upstairs, you may be in for a rocky go of it. I believe that we were built by our Creator to accomplish great things through him. He’s the one that planted the dreams and desires in our heart. Spending time in prayer and letting him guide your steps is not only wise counsel, but it is a big comfort during the the rough patches of the journey. Because if you’re working on something worthwhile, the rough patches are sure to come.
Honesty and change can be icky. Get over it.
You need to be willing to be uncomfortable. I’d say that this is the biggest reason people stay stuck in jobs they hate. Change is not easy. Sometimes it’s scary. And let’s face it, most people reading this have a pretty decent and comfortable life.
To get from where you are to where you want to be is not easy. But you have to be painfully honest with yourself. You need to quit living by rules that don’t exist. You may have a small list of reasons why you can’t really pursue your dream job. They seem iron-clad. But you know what?
Think about all of the reasons you think you can’t change your current situation. There are probably a million of them, sounding like this: I don’t have enough experience. There’s too much competition. The town I live in is too small. I have a family to support. We need the benefits. I don’t have enough money to get started. The economy stinks. I’m too old. I’m too young. The list goes on and on. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying these might not be hurdles.
I’m simply saying that they can be hurdled.
Examine your list of reasons why you can’t do something and be brutally honest with yourself. Analyze each one to see if you’ve elevated it to a rule that doesn’t really exist. Chances are, you probably CAN overcome those hurdles. But maybe – and this is where the brutal honesty comes in – it will require a little more effort or sacrifice or risk than you are willing to give. If that’s true, then fine. Admit it. But do me and yourself a favor and instead of complaining that you can’t do something, just admit you don’t want it bad enough.
How’s that for honesty?
Fun. Scary. Exhilarating. Tiring. Invigorating. Challenging. Rewarding. Going after your dream is all of the above. It delivers a life filled with adventure and leaves the world a better place because of all the people you impact along the way.
Sometimes it’s an overwhelming task, but it is my wish that these thoughts will inspire you to take that next step on your journey.
Oh, and I hope your elephant tastes delicious.
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