Instead of Hustling for Your Dream Job, Do This (Part 1 of 2)

You’re out to dinner with a bunch of friends. The talk inevitably turns to work. Career. Dating. Relationships. You get that pang of jealousy in your chest. The one that tells you “You’re not where you’re supposed to be.” “Everyone has everything they need.” “You’re the one that’s so far behind.” Or maybe Facebook is what really gets ya. All 900 of your friends have the best life ever and you’re the only one who hasn’t figured it out, amirite?

This is me in 2011 when I seemingly “had it all” (including a nacho birthday cake) and was chasing the next iteration of my dream job.

YOU’RE NOT ALONE

Let’s take the career angle since I work with people, primarily 30-something women, on career transitions or development (but this can apply to relationships, fitness, finances — you name it).

You leave that dinner (or log off Facebook) and decide that you are going to do whatever it takes to ALSO have a dream job. You know, the kind that you just know will feel like rainbows and unicorns all the time because this is, in your mind, what a dream job is ALL. THE. TIME. So you run yourself ragged looking at job boards after long workdays and going on a billion coffee chats and interviews. In a word, you HUSTLE for as long as it takes. Maybe you do snag that “dream job,” only to find it’s the same stuff, different place.

Lest you think I’m going to a “Negative Nancy” dark place, bear with me.

YOU DON’T NEED A DREAM JOB

How would you feel if I told you that you don’t need a dream job? Or how about this: There is no such thing as a dream job, so you’re wasting valuable time and energy seeking out this holy grail?

Is “relieved” at the tip of your tongue? How about “lighter” or “less pressured”? After I told one of my clients this, she said, “Oh my gosh, I’ve been waiting for someone to tell me this.” Almost like she needed permission to move forward with something she knew all along.

Well, if that’s what it takes, this article is giving you permission not to get a dream job.

I know this all might sound crazy coming from a career advisor, so allow me to explain. In the United States, there’s this cultural message to “snag your dream job” — heck, I used to do workshops with a similar title when I was first getting started in this field! And if you want to put a socio-historical context on it (as one does), this is the undercurrent of the founding principles of our entire country. “The American Dream,” anyone?

So instead of that relentless and seemingly endless pursuit of the dream job and that constant energy to “DO, FIND, FIGURE IT OUT,” what if you simply liked your job just fine (or found a job you liked just fine), and you were able to pour your LOVE into the rest of your life — like your relationships, wellness, spirituality, “you” time, and hobbies? And what if, in doing so, you ended up naturally and eventually finding a career path that you love?

Make no mistake: This goes against our very nature as doers, get-’er-done, accomplish-it type people. We want to fix it, solve it, and in many cases, be like those friends we go out to dinner with who seem to have it all or like your friend Penelope who has the perfect Instagram feed. This is radical and it’s weird. I mean, I’m telling you to not actively seek out your dream job.

WHAT THIS SHIFT IS NOT ABOUT

It’s worth stating now what this paradigm shift is NOT about. What this is not about is settling for something mediocre and bland to you. This is not about staying in a toxic work environment. This is not about staying someplace for the tenth year in a row even though for the last four years, you’ve known you’ve stagnated in what you’re learning and doing. It is about reorienting your mind-set around your job so that you can feed the other parts of you too. And if you are in any of those toxic or bland situations, then certainly a change could be helpful. But the same idea applies here too — the next thing doesn’t have to be THE DREAM THING. It instead can be viewed as a breadcrumb that leads you to the next thing…and the next, and the next.

Imagine for a second that your next thing was touted (by you or anyone else) as the “dream job.” Say you’re reading this and you’re in your late 20s or 30s, and you got your “dream job”? What’s left to reach for, to work toward, to align with? THAT, my friend, is where the true stagnation happens. When your mind-set becomes fixated on the next thing being the dream thing, what more is there to discover?

If this is all sounding pretty darn good to you right now, you might be interested, but are wondering (somewhat skeptically maybe) how you would even get started with this. I created a free guide you can grab here that takes you through the four steps you need to stop chasing a ‘dream job’, in chronological order.

In a follow-up post that I’ll publish in the coming days, I’ll take you through the guide, so download it now here, take a gander, and I’ll be back soon with some practical applications tips and tools.

And remember: Breathe. No more chasing countless jobs on job boards for you.

***Update: Part 2 of 2 is live! You can read it here- we talk about how to live and implement what’s in the tool you just downloaded.

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