There’s No Such Thing as a Dream Job

There's no such thing as a dream job

Coming out of college, I was eager to be in financial services. Sales held the key to prosperity – performance-based growth. It would enable me to put into practice much of what I learned studying psychology, and was something I could really see myself doing long-term.

I scored a job with the best company in the industry. I was now working on the 11th floor of a downtown highrise (a big deal in a town of 170,000), for a Fortune 500 and perennial Most Admired company. My path to success and early retirement was clearly paved, should I choose to follow it. I was living the dream! Except it sucked.

The people were great, the duties were fine, the company was respectable, and the subject matter was interesting. After a while, I just got tired of it. I didn’t want my dream job anymore. I moved on. I began marketing for a startup. I got into content and social media. I loved it. I still love it! It has its drawbacks, but it’s where I can thrive. Writing, too, be it freelance or for myself is a “dream.” But there’s a catch.

Malcolm Gladwell is my favorite writer. If I had to decide my dream job right now, it would likely be his – a staff writer at The New Yorker who writes books on the side. But that would come with its own set of complications. Deadlines, living in a new city, potentially working with people I didn’t get along with, possibly working longer hours than I do now. It’d be a dream! But the reality would wake me up quickly.

When I say “there’s no such thing as a dream job,” I don’t mean that dreams can’t be accomplished or that people can’t achieve whatever they want. They can. But the idea of a dream job is a fable. You’re always going to interact with people who frustrate you. You’re going to make mistakes. Crises are going to come up. You’re going to have to do some aspect of your job that you detest.

Perhaps I should say “there’s no such thing as a perfect situation.” There’s not. But doesn’t the dream imply utopia? That you’ll be doing only what you love to do, when you want to do it? That doesn’t exist.

Even the best, most perfect situation for each of us is going to frustrate us at times. We’ll have to work harder than we want to at times. We’ll have to do things we don’t want to do, deal with people we don’t want to deal with, and make sacrifices we would rather avoid. There’s always a best fit for us, but it’s not a dream.

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