When I was in high school, I knew exactly what I wanted to be. A doctor of physical therapy ... It was a short-lived dream. I learned quickly that I hate science. More than one biology course at a time had me pulling out my hair, and the only things I accomplished in Chemistry 102 were two lab assignments and barely passing a few tests – and breaking two crucibles and a bunsen burner.
Sound advice still sticks in my mind. “Do what you love to do first and the money will follow,” someone once told me. I wish I could credit the wise man on the mountain who said this but unfortunately, names don’t stick as well as good advice, just like nobody knows the name of who told them never to stick a finger in an electrical outlet.
Everyone has their dream job, one they envision from the early days of grade school all the way to their pursuit of higher education – should that be the path they choose, of course. Unfortunately, as with everything in life, even dream jobs come with a trade-off, usually one that pits dreams against lifestyle choice and reality. The perfect dream job is fun, manageable, one that jolts you out of bed in the morning, even on those cold, dark January mornings ... and subsequently, it tends to be low-paying. Very low paying, and that’s if your dream job is actually a real job. When’s the last time you heard of video game tester gone big time?
If the pay isn’t enough to kill one’s search for a dream job, the likelihood of actually finding such a job is. The online professional networking site LinkedIn conducted a depressing survey last November that asked more than 8,000 professionals if they had landed their dream job. According to the survey, only 30 percent believed they had found their true calling, the one that makes them happy. Only 30 percent.
But even if attaining a dream job is difficult – damn near impossible even – the search for the perfect career continues for millions, beckoning romantic job-seekers to buy self-assessment books, refer to career coaches, and watch hours of Oprah with the hope of being pointed in the right direction. It all starts with “Plan A,” and when things fall through, they move on to “Plan B.” When that doesn’t work out, it’s on to “Plan C,” and so on, until they’re happy just to have a letter in the alphabet before reverting to “Plan A1.”
Perhaps the aforementioned advice about doing what you love first wasn’t so great after all (hindsight is 20/20). Maybe it’s what’s wrong with the American workforce. Millennials like myself have been told to do only what they love and settle for nothing less. This, grouped with a lack of self-awareness of Generation-Y (as so clearly seen by anyone who has watched a YouTube video) means that thousands of jobs area available but no one wants to take them. Millions of people are holding out for what they want to do instead, with their fingers crossed and their hopes high.
Admittedly, I’m one of the fortunate ones to have a job I like. Maybe not quite the dream job I was expecting, but certainly a close second, though I wouldn’t call being a reporter for a small town newspaper a long-term career by any means. And it sure beats scouring online employment opportunity websites night after night (it was www.idontknowwhattodowithmylife.com that changed my own career outlook).
But for the many still pursuing their dream job, maybe the best advice isn’t to follow your dream, but instead to change it, to change perspectives and to learn to love what you actually do. After all, a real dream job might be nothing more than that – a dream.