It’s becoming less attainable as the world changes
“What do you want to be when you grow up?” is a burgeoning question that sparks a wide range of emotions. It was a daunting question that stared right back at me on blank sheet of paper in elementary school. I had trouble finding a definitive answer.
As we get older, we try to find an answer and work towards it because it seems right for us. The answer we land on usually allows us to identify the path we take to define our career path. We end up spending a large sum of money, taking out loans, dedicating precious time to pursuing the ideal dream that we have somehow pressured ourselves into. We think our future self will really be happy in this place we have dreamed of. When we finally arrive to our believed destination, it’s not at all what we envisioned in our minds and we have a hard time calling it a success at all.
We tend to think of milestones, projects, events in reference to beginning, middle, and end, but it’s not as a linear path as we make it seem. When our outcomes are not what we thought they would be, it can feel like the whole world is falling apart. The harsh reality is that most people work their entire lives without reaching their ideals of a dream job. Rather than working towards the end goal, work on the process of liking how you get there.
Our ideas that cultivate the right dream job for us are oftentimes born out of having an idea of a “fixed” passion, which leads us to having a hard time opening ourselves up to new interests and ideas when things don’t work in our favor. It can be downright damaging to our minds and cause much distress when we are unable to face the reality that our match isn’t right for us. A fixed mindset can also be limiting to us in the sense that we don’t open ourselves to the possibilities of pursuing potential interests and paths we’re able to take.
The important step is learning how to forgive ourselves when we fold from failure and allow ourselves for better opportunities ahead in order to grow. Failure is only part of the process. We must remind ourselves that a dream job isn’t an exact destination. It’s a path that’s ever evolving and we’re free to bend and explore. The ideal career can fit into different points of our lives for many different reasons.
Growing up, the idea of a job meant financial freedom and the ability to provide food on the table. I had a hard time with the thought of working the same job I didn’t like for a without feeling engaged. I was looking at it from the wrong lens. The same job doesn’t have to be boring or stagnant. That idea was something that I had made up in my head. The idea of meaningful work is something that can be grown into and not a limiting belief. I can explore different paths and work simultaneously on the things that interests me the most.
In this short decade, I have taken a handful of small lessons from the diverse environments I have worked in: library page, hostess, dog walker, intern, digital marketer, and now freelance writer and photographer. I’m grateful for the exposure of the variety of different lessons I have been able to learn and takeaway, both negative and positive and everything in between.
One of the most important lessons I have taken away from working in a variety of different environments is that no environment is perfect. There’s always going to be tension among people and teams and learning how to neutralize negative office politics on a day to day basis. There are going to be hard days where you just want to turn and run the other way. It’s important to accept the negative aspects of the career path you choose. Not everything is going to be perfect or ideal. We are all aware of this at a fundamental level because nothing is perfect in life.
When I left my job to go out on my own as a full-time freelancer, I had a few tough realizations to overcome. One of the emotional hurdles I was that a job doesn’t have to feel amazing all the time. I was caught up in this idea that my 8 hour days were supposed to be perfect and without any conflict. I had to accept the positive and negative aspects of work in order to be at peace with myself.
Our goals change throughout life and we have to learn how to adapt to the changes. We are more than our careers. I don’t believe in the idea of the dream job, but I believe in building a path to define a sense of purpose and finding meaning in our work. I think it’s worthwhile to make it positive experience. We’re the only ones that know if it’s worth the compromise at the end of the day. It’s up to us on defining the future of what our work looks like and how we choose to react to it.