How to find your dream job
Everybody has been asked this same question at one point in their childhood: “What do you want to be when you grow up?” And almost everybody has asked themselves this question at one point in their adulthood: “What do I want to be, now that I am all grown up?”
It’s easy to give an answer at five years old, the world is your back yard. Ballerina, doctor, teacher, astronaut, nothing is out of reach. But when it comes to adulthood, many people find themselves somewhat stuck: in jobs they don’t quite like, occupying positions they don’t quite fit in, underperforming or just waiting for the next weekend and the next paycheck.
Now, we are not pretending to have the solution to this probably centuries-old problem. If it were that simple, everybody could solve it and we wouldn’t be here talking about it. But we do know some little steps that might help you.
1. Make a list. Or more, for that matter.
When you are stuck, a fair amount of introspection is urgently needed. Ask yourself these questions:
• What don’t I like about my current job?
• What do I like about my current job?
• If I could pick any job in the world and be instantly good at it, without money being a problem, what would I want to do and definitely NOT want to do?
• What activities bring me joy? What activities move something in me? What is important to me?
The goal here is to notice some patterns that will give you some direction. Maybe you need constant social interactions, or maybe you thrive in a more isolated environment. Maybe you find joy in the arts and crafts or maybe it is really important for you to take a project from scratch and see it develop until its very successful end.
2. Find out about yourself
It is easy to lose sight of who we are when we are busy playing robots and paying our dues to society. This is why, when we are trying to decide what fits us best, it is important to regain contact with who we truly are.
Well established personality tests are very useful, not only for the results, but for those exactly right questions that can reveal your personality and are giving you an opportunity for introspection. Also, your friends are a gold mine of information, so be sure to put down some questions they could answer, about yourself and how they perceive you in relation to things that are important to you.
Myers-Briggs personality test, strength finder or the Johari Window test (where your friends can also pitch in) are just some of the personality tests you could take that might show you new patterns or reinforce the ones you found out at the previous step.
3. Be realistic
Be honest with yourself: what do you value more? Do you value the money and the security of your current job or are you prepared to put yourself out there and pass through a period of uncertainty and a lower income in order to do what you love? Does it matter if you are not rich if you are in a job that fulfills you and makes you happy?
Take into consideration all the upsides and downsides of the changes you are about to make and be sure you are at ease with everything that might come your way. Are you ok with letting go of your corporate car? How about three years without an exotic vacation? And are you prepared to see some of your friends look at you as not very successful because you suddenly don’t fit into their idea of an accomplished citizen anymore?
These are all questions you need to answer to yourself truthfully and make up your mind about how much one answer or the other matters to you.
4. Make another list. Or more, for that matter
Now that you know some things about yourself and what you like, and have gone through the process of accepting the change, make a list with all the jobs that fit the description. For example, if traveling is really important to you, you could put down flight attendant, tour guide or teaching abroad.
After you have crossed out those jobs that would be really hard for you to take up now (9 years of medical school in your 30s would probably be really hard, but still not impossible) make a list of the companies you could work for. If it is as simple as that, then update your CV and apply, everywhere that fits your description.
If it is a little more complicated than that, then make another intermediary list of things you need to do before you can apply: whether it is courses you need to take, a loan you need to contract, talking to your wife about being the sole provider in the family for a while or moving back in with you supportive parents for a while, put it all down and…do it.
5. Do things
Ok, so maybe you are not yet ready for this entire process. Maybe you do not want to change your job right now, but would like to have more clarity about what you could do if you ever wanted to make a change. The only thing you can do here is to…do things.
Put aside time for trying new experiences, for reading, for meeting new people, take up classes just for the fun of it. When you put yourself out there, that dream job might just as well hit you in the face.
Have a fruitful quest!