“Want what you already have.” This is one of the things we’re told to do if we want to be happy and content with our lives. How can we apply this to finding our dream job?
First of all, what does “dream job” even mean? Is it the kind of job you see people doing in movies and TV shows -where people wear designer clothes, work in ultra-modern offices, and jet around the world on all-expenses paid business trips? Maybe. But it can also be building kitchen cabinets in a small garage, teaching a kindergarten class, or being everyone’s favourite waitress at an all-night truck stop. A dream job, like beauty, is in the eye of the beholder.
So whether it’s white or blue collar, fabulously well-paid or minimum wage, high-status or bottom rung on the social ladder, here are some signs you have your dream job already:
- Time flies: If time flies when you’re at your job, and you look up at some point and say, “What? It’s almost closing time already? Where did the day go?” you could be at your dream job. (If you’re watching the clock, noting as each minute crawls by, you probably aren’t.)
- You can’t wait to get there: If you leap, or even drag yourself out of bed in the morning, eager to get to work, already thinking about your day and how you’re going to meet the challenges, you may already have your dream job. (If instead of looking forward to your day, you’re dreading it, that’s a bad sign.)
- Time stands still: But in a good way. When we’re doing something we love, something creative, or something we’re passionate about, we lose all sense of time. If this regularly happens to you at work, you could already have your dream job.
- The pleasure outweighs the pain: Even the best job on earth has its downsides. Nothing is perfect. So just because you occasionally have bad days, stressful moments, times you’d rather have a day-long dentist appointment than spend any more time at work, doesn’t mean you don’t have your dream job. If you can look back over a few weeks or months of work, and know that the highs far outweighed the lows, you may already have your dream job.
- You use your unique talents and gifts: Each of us is born with a unique set of talents and characteristics. One person’s dream job is another person’s nightmare. If you were to force a star football player to be a librarian, he’d probably feel trapped and claustrophobic, while if you stuck a brilliant librarian on the football field, he’d probably have a life expectancy of about 3 minutes. If your job makes the most of your own unique set of gifts and personality traits, you may already have your dream job.
- You have a purpose: Having a dream job isn’t always about having a job that’s lots of fun to do or highly lucrative. It’s possible to do a really tough, unglamorous or dreary job, and still love it because it fulfills a higher purpose. Talk to nurses, firemen, geriatric aides, funeral directors. Their jobs can be dangerous, unpleasant, exhausting, maybe even thankless, but they feel rewarded and satisfied by the knowledge that their jobs make a difference. Even a sanitary engineer or the lady pouring coffee at the all-night diner may feel the warm glow of knowing that because they do their jobs so well, other people’s lives are better. If you feel this way about your job, it may be your dream job.
- You’re always learning and growing: No one wants to feel like they’re stagnating, doing the same thing over and over, never learning anything new. We thrive on learning new things, on novelty, and on meeting new challenges. Who wants to spend their days in a humdrum and boring environment? If your job makes it possible for you to keep learning and growing, you may already have your dream job.
- It supports your life goals: Some people want a career. Other people just want to make enough to live on while they pursue their “real life” whether it’s surfing, or acting, or volunteering. If your job makes it possible to achieve your life goals, it may be your dream job.And for an unfortunately large percentage of the world’s people, a dream job is any job that puts food on their table, and keeps a roof over their heads. Think about it.
- You love the people you work with: Sometimes the people you work with, whether your customers or your co-workers, can turn an ordinary job into a dream job. Once in awhile a group of people comes together at a place of employment, and magic happens. There’s such great synergy, you’re all so compatible, and have so much fun together, that you almost don’t care what the job is, you just love doing it.
- You can’t stop talking about it: If every time someone asks you about your job, you start gushing about how great the company is, what an important difference it makes to the community, how giving and special the employees are, what great things you’re learning…you probably already have your dream job. (On the other hand, if every time someone asks how work is going, they end up offering you some cheese to go with your whine, it may be time to dust off your resume.)
So how does your job stack up? Is it your dream job? Almost your dream job? Or is it sadly lacking? Use this list to help you decide if it’s time to start looking for a new job, or time to sit back and feel grateful for the job you already have.