My first job was detassling. For those of you who aren’t from the Midwest (and for the 90% of Midwesterners who don’t know what I’m talking about), detassling involves walking up and down rows of corn to remove the pollinating pieces of the cornstalk, so that little corn plants don’t start sprouting up where they’re not wanted. Repeat – my first job was neutering corn. I’m sure there’s a less appealing job out there, but I’m not sure what it is.
Now I know you want to find your dream job. (I also know that your dream job isn’t detassling.) You might even be so certain of what that dream job is that you don’t want to compromise by taking anything less. And while that strategy might work for you, it might also keep you unemployed for several months because you think you’re too good for the seemingly ho-hum jobs that you could get tomorrow.
So let me tell you six things about your dream job that might help you put things into a better perspective.
You are more than a job. Chances are you will have several jobs in your lifetime (the average person has somewhere between 7 and 10). Even if you only have two, that means the one you start with is not going to be the last thing you ever do. So your next job won’t necessarily define your entire career and it most certainly shouldn’t define your entire identity.
Even dream jobs are still jobs. I love my job, but I don’t love every single thing about it – and 100% of the rest of the people in the world who like what they do would say the same. They call it work for a reason. If work wasn’t at least sometimes slightly difficult or unpleasant then it would be called “happyfunmoneymakingtime!!!!!!” With probably even more exclamation points.
Practical things like food and shelter might (temporarily) get in the way of your dream. Holding out for your dream job is an awesome strategy if working isn’t a financial necessity. But if you don’t have a pleasure yacht you can just lounge around on, choosing a job for the security it will provide is an awesome reason to take a job. And who knows? You might end up actually liking it.
Your “dream job” might not actually be your dream job – My first job out of college was teaching high school English, which is exactly what I wanted to do. I didn’t even change my major in college, because I was certain how I was going to spend the rest of my life. That lasted for two years, and now I speak at corporate events for a living – which by the way is exactly what I want to be doing now. Life is going to take you in all kinds of unexpected directions. With respect to your career, that’s about the only real guarantee you’re ever going to get.
You’re not going to start at the top – Even if your dream job is to be the CEO of your own start-up company, you’re going to begin as the CEO of an unfunded start-up company that doesn’t have any products and which nobody has ever heard of. In order for your dream job to actually become your dream job, you’re going to have to work at it. (Re-read point #2, punk!)
It’s easier to find your dream job while you’re already employed – I wouldn’t necessarily tell your new employers that you’re using them as a placeholder while you search for a better opportunity, but doing so will put you in a much stronger position once you find that better opportunity.
I don’t want you to think that you can’t have the job of your dreams. All I’m trying to say is that it will take some time and some hard work in order to find it. If your idea of a ‘dream job’ is one where you have to make zero compromises, then you’ll never find what you’re looking for. Everything we do requires compromise, mostly because all of us have an abundance of dreams and we just don’t have time to live them all out.
But in a way, that should bring you comfort. The more dreams you have, the more likely it is that you’ll find a dream job. Just don’t expect everything to be perfect. Because I don’t know if you’ve paid attention, but your dreams aren’t perfect either. I had one two nights ago where – totally not lying here – a talking monkey was holding me hostage in a highrise that was somehow underwater. Seriously, dreams can be weird.