I don't believe in dream jobs. Just gotta put that out there front and center. You know why I don't believe in dream jobs? Because I changed paths early in my career, went back to school for nearly 3 years and landed what I considered to be my dream job. Woohoo - go me! But who would have thought that I would be miserable in that line of work just a few months in?
If you really look around - past the fluff and marketers trying to sell you a dream job in 30 days - you'll find that most people happened upon a job that they love. They didn't plan it.
As a career coach and strategist, I'm totally in love with what I get to do most days. This role fits in with my lifestyle, builds on my skills, and allows me to show up as the best version of me most days. But would I categorize my job as fun?
Many days, no, my job isn't fun.
The glorification of entrepreneurship
There's also this myth out there that you'll be happy if you just 'screw the 9-5.' I'm just going to say this as straight as possible - entrepreneurship is not a quick fix for career dissatisfaction.
Entrepreneurship is glamorized these days. I bet you can't go one day without hearing someone talk about how they get to work from anywhere (I hear Bali a LOT) and set their own hours. I see Instagram photos with business owners sipping their cocktails at 2pm with their computers in the background all like, "Look how fabulous your life could be if you just take the risk to quit your job and follow your dream like me!"
You know what I bet you don't see a lot of? I bet you don't see these same people being up front about how isolating it is to work from home, often alone. I bet you don't see these people stressed over having to learn one more thing (coding, anyone?) because they're a one-woman shop. I bet you don't see these people sharing the fact that they have to take on work that they don't love in order to pay their bills.
I can tell you that I've considered going back to a 9-5 just to be able to work less. All this isn't to encourage you NOT to pursue your goal of starting your own business. It's simply here to serve as a reminder that working for yourself isn't better than working for someone else. You need to find the role that fits you the best. That's where you'll find purpose.
The Fable of the Perfect Job
Every interest isn't supposed to lead to a career. That should feel like a sigh of relief. I know you've felt like unless you're living out your passion you aren't in the right career.
Lest we forget that there's a place for work and hobbies and the two don't necessarily have to intersect. Hobbies are so important to have! They allow us to do something without the pressure of earning income, just for the enjoyment of participating.
Fun vs. Fulfilling
So how do you make the distinction between jobs that are fun and those that are fulfilling? And why does this even matter?
Fun is fleeting. Fulfilling gets to your deeper purpose. It connects your interests and skills. A fulfilling job gives you the opportunity to show up every day with the opportunity to make an impact with your inherent and learned strengths.
The best way to build a fulfilling career is to begin by asking yourself a few questions:
- I've heard people say they can count on me to:
- One of my proudest accomplishments from work over the past year was when...
- If I had one work day to pursue any project or idea I wanted, here's what I would be doing...
Look for themes in your responses. Then tie that to career possibilities. As yourself what type of job could incorporate most, if not all, of these elements.
Remember, your ideal career is likely totally different than anyone else's. That's because you bring unique strengths and experiences to the table in a way no one else can.
What was a time in your career where you felt completely fulfilled by the work you were doing? Tell me about it in the comments section below.