Not many people have scored their dream jobs

Recent statistics show that fewer than half the people surveyed like their work. That’s a dismal number and what is even sadder that even among those people who said they like their job there are even fewer employees who are in their dream career. It seems that more people are focused on paying their rent, cable bill and going to Red Lobster once in a while, and settling for a job that’s not too bad or doable on a good day, than finding something which is their passion, speaks to their life’s purpose, or gives them a buzz.

We’re petrified about it not working out

So what stops us from following our dream? Fear is the answer whether it’s the thought of it, the messages you were fed as you grew up, or that you tried working towards your perfect work and it didn’t work out. The conversation goes something like this, “I can’t become a ballerina and even if I do make it, knowing my luck, I’ll end up breaking my ankle and losing my home so I’m pushing a shopping cart full of ballet shoes, tutus and DVDs of Swan Lake.”

What is this fear all about? What scares you about trying for a dream job? Or what is so bad about having a dream job?

What the university of life teaches about dreams that we need to unlearn!
What did we learn about dream jobs growing up?

1. You don’t make money with your dreams.

Not having the money to pay our bills is a huge barrier. We are told that other people may make fortunes from telling monologues but those people live in Hollywood California not Hollywood Florida.

2. Dream jobs don’t come with benefits or pensions.

I’m not sure where this one comes from. Many dream jobs – being a US Senator for example, come with great benefits including one of the best healthcare plans in the country. But that’s a common belief.

3. Nice people don’t do that or dream jobs are not for the likes of you.
Your ma or pa may have told you that being an actor is no job for a god-fearing Midwesterner. And you may have believed them. Newsflash, there are religious actors and even some who are Republicans.

4. What counts is getting an education.
Authority figures such as teachers may have told you that the cream of the cream don’t go and bake cakes they become accountants where the only cooking they do is of the books. They may have advised you to go to college and make cup cakes on the side and you may have taken their advice.

5. Dream jobs get you into trouble.

The media delights in reporting the latest celebrity who came unwound in Saks and started shoplifting, seducing old ladies or smoking illegal (in some states) substances. The message is that getting a dream job will end up with your police mug shot on the front page of the National Enquirer.

A new education on dream jobs and what we should learn.

1. It’s OK to be frightened of new things.
It’s normal to be scared of new things including the thought of a dream job but we can choose how we react to it. We can go into our fears, let our head take over and give us a million reasons why we should fear our fears or we can go to our heart and say thank you to the fear for wanting to protect us but acknowledge that we are following our life’s purpose we are going to be OK.

2. Look for dream work not a dream job.
Dream jobs can be enticing. I wanted to be a sitcom writer when I first moved to Los Angeles about 15 years ago. But then I found that there was no job security, brutal work schedules of up to 80 hours a week and work, if I was lucky, on some TV show that I didn’t even like. I realized that this was not my dream job and focused on my dream work. I came up with entertainment and education. I love to make people laugh but I also want them to learn. This dream work became coaching and writing. Look at what you want from your work and then be open to a job coming up. That job could have any title as long as it matches your dream work criteria.

3. Research is useful but it’s not true.
It makes sense to do some research about your dream work. Find out what it pays, what people like about it, and what they don’t. But when you start to hear the “you’re too old to be an actor,” or the “interior decorating doesn’t pay” or “writing a novel – are you nuts” stories say thank you for the information and withdraw. What these people are telling you may be valid but it’s not true. What I mean by that is that you could get a hundred people in the street to agree with their statement but it is not a universal truth. How do I know? Because, one of my friends makes a very decent living from being an actor in his 80s and he has never worked more than in his “golden boys years”; and another client makes a handsome income from handsome interior decoration; and another friend has written a number of novels and has had every one published. I challenge this information. It may be valid but it’s not true – there is always the possibility of dream work manifesting.

4. Make a plan
Most people think about their dream job but they don’t make a plan. It often has to be all or nothing with them. It has to be sucky job now and dream job tomorrow or no deal. An alternative is to keep the job that pays the bills but to take small steps towards the dream work. Take a class once a week on garden design. Buy a second hand camera and take a few shots. Buy a copy of Variety and see what is happening in Holllywood. Small steps are OK. Every time you complete one, you are closer to your goal and you can build your esteem and fight against the fear. Planning leads to action and in action you have results.

5. Stop talking about it and just do it
Stop planning. Stop thinking. Stop making up reasons why you can’t do it. And just do it now. But you don’t need to jump off the cliff without a parachute. Get support from supportive family (note the word “supportive”), friends (note supportive again) and coaches or counselors. With your supporters you can keep working on your internal and external barriers – I’m not skinny enough to be an actor (it didn’t stop Queen Latifah) or I don’t know anyone (but you do and six degrees of separation does work ). Really the key is not to give up.

Commit or be committed!

If you don’t commit to your dream work then you give up an essential part of who you are. It can drive you crazy not to honor yourself. So declare your passion and work towards it even it’s only ten minutes, it’s a beginning.
As one of my clients put it:

“After meeting with you today, I am declaring myself as an artist”
Follow your dreams. It doesn’t have to be a nightmare.

Author's Bio: 

David Couper is a career coach and writer who for the last twenty years has worked in Europe, Asia, and the USA with thousands of individuals and groups. He has successfully coached men and women wanting to change career or develop new opportunities at all levels - including CEOs of major companies wanting a creative challenge, frustrated souls longing to make their dream come true and front-line employees laid off and desperate to get a job. He specializes in helping people find their unique potential. He loves to transform misfits at work into successful misfits with their dream careers. David has a degree in Communication, a postgraduate qualification in education, is certified in a number of training technologies, and has a Masters in Spiritual Psychology. He is a member of the American Society of Training and Development, Society of Human Resources Professional, Writers Guild and the British Academy of Film and Television. David has published seven books. His works on interpersonal skills, counseling in the workplace, and management issues (published by Connaught, Gower, HRD Press, Longman, Macmillan/Pearson Publishing, Oxford University Press) have been translated into Swedish, Polish, and Danish, and published in the UK and the USA. He has dual US/UK citizenship.

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