As a kid, what did you want to be when you grew up?
I wanted to be lots of things.
It often changed depending on the hot TV show or movie at the moment; A celebrity I admired doing something cool (think Tara Lipinski in the 1998 Winter Olympics, or Shania Twain’s singing success; A new insight I learned in school; a cool person I met doing something they loved.
From the time I was 6-years-old, I wanted to be a ‘writer.’ Ever since reading the books Little House on the Prairie, Little Women, and The Babysitter’s Club, I wanted to write a ground-breaking novel.
I also wanted to be the ‘next Julia Roberts’ (we have the same birthday…a sign?).
Then, as my love for journalism grew, that changed to the ‘next Katie Couric’ (on the NBC Today Show of course).
I changed my major (or rather added a different ‘double major’) five times in college (fun fact: the average major change is four times):
- Health Promotion & Fitness
- Human and Family Sciences
Only to come right back to where I started: Broadcast Journalism, and graduate with one undergrad degree.
Throughout highschool and college, I had a laundry list of, what I like to call, ‘mundane college jobs’—you know, the non-long-term jobs that shape your work ethic and life experience.
Always and forever, I was a babysitter. I started my own version of the Babysitter’s Club (except, the only employee was myself).
I worked as a hostess and server at about five different restaurants (and quit every time—the restaurant industry was not for me).
Retail did my wallet in (hello Lululemon!).
I filed and alphabetized papers for my dad’s law office…interned at magazines and news stations…took care of home-bound senior citizens and kids with special needs.
My first ‘real’ job, post-undergraduate school was as a news producer and sideline reporter at the NBC affiliate in Little Rock, Arkansas. However, after working in the local TV news room for about a year, I decided I wanted “something else” (more than the rat race of the ‘if it bleeds, it leads’ mentality).
I decided to pursue my graduate studies in Occupational Therapy (complete ‘left-field’ swing?), and when I ‘got out’…I knew, hands down, what it is I wanted to do:
Start THRIVE…and continue to write.
I am doing both.
And while I am doing both…I still yearn for more…I want to start a physical center and program for girls and women in recovery from eating disorders… I am excited to be partnering with Central Athlete in Austin to promote individualized program design and lifestyle change for clients over the next couple months….
The moral of the story?
We are never fully ‘complete’ when it comes to the job front…And, often times, not ever fully satisfied with right where we are—wherever that is.
Whether you LOVE your job…or HATE your job….there are always going to be things about ‘the job’ that we don’t love.
And there are always going to be things that appeal about other jobs or other people’s jobs, that we think: “Why can’t I have that?”
I call this the ‘dangling carrot.’
Lately, I’ve had several conversations with people—highschool and college-aged to those in their 50’s and 60’s—who are searching for the perfect job—or the job that they love.
High-school girls worry, “I have no idea what life looks like after college! It’s scary to think what being on my own will be like, and I have no idea what I really want to do!”
College girls say, “I hope I get into grad school. It’s so competitive nowadays and I have no idea what I am going to do with a Psychology degree”, or “I am just looking for any job that will hire me—and it’s so competitive. I am having a tough time!”
The 20-year-olds, who have been out of college several years now, are looking for the next big shift, “I have been working this job since I got out of college. I am ready to make a change.”
The 30 and 40-year-olds have been ‘at it’ for awhile now, and are flat out getting a little tired, or burnt out, of whatever it is they are doing.
The 50-year-olds are ready to ‘retire’ or ‘be what they want to be’ now that they are grown up. They’ve been lawyers, doctors, teachers, business gurus for several handfuls of years now. What’s the next step?
The 60+ year-olds are finally ‘figuring life out’, and investing their time in things that are ‘life-giving’ to them—volunteering, mentoring, investing, guiding, leading, exploring retirement.
And the beat goes on.
Wherever you fall on the spectrum though…There IS HOPE.
While there will always be things you don’t like about a particular j-o-b…or an ongoing lingering for ‘something different’…or the search for that ‘dream job’…
I am a FIRM BELIEVER you can have a job you LOVE waking up to and earn a living for yourself doing things that actually don’t feel like work at all at the end of the day.
Your ‘dream job’ DOES EXIST…and, contrary to popular belief, more than an actual ONE-job-fits-you approach…
Your ‘dream job’ is actually a state of being: Doing what you love, and loving what you do—both inside and outside the formal workplace (i.e. the ‘job of living’).
For when you have this: Whatever it is, won’t actually feel like ‘work’ at all.
Here are a few keys I have learned thus far in honing in on this secret DOING WHAT YOU LOVE, AND LOVING WHAT YOU DO:
- Determine Who, Then Why, And, Your ‘What Comes Last’. Start with the bottom up approach. After all, the ‘dream’ job doesn’t necessarily exist…rather it is the job that most clicks with who you are at your core—your strengths, your skills, your abilities, your passions, your talents, your weaknesses-even. Your ‘why’ then follows suit…your why is in line with your innate purpose. Your ‘why’ is what drives you and motivates you to feel passionate and connected to a job. For instance, I am passionate about writing, connecting and encouraging other people. I love telling others’ stories and getting to uplift them through the power of the written word —my freelance work with the magazines I write for therefore answers this ‘why.’ Lastly, your what—the actual job you settle on, falls into place once you understand more about who you are and your why, your mission, in your life. A great book for tapping more into this is called Strength’s Finder by Tom Rath (Make sure to get a new copy if you order it so you have the unique book code to complete the Strengths Finder Assessment).On the ‘what’ front, here are a few questions to ask yourself from Forbes:
- If I could choose one friend to trade jobs with, I’d choose ____________, because ____________.
- I’ve always wondered what it would be like to do ____________. It’s interesting to me because ____________.
- If I had the right education or skill set, I’d definitely try ____________, because ____________.
- If I had to go back to school tomorrow, I’d study ____________, because ____________.
- My co-workers and friends always say I’m great at ____________, because ____________.
- The thing I love most about my current job is ____________, because ____________.
- If my boss would let me, I’d do more of ____________, because ____________.
- If I had a free Saturday that had to be spent “working” on something, I’d choose ____________, because ____________.
- When I retire, I want to be known for ____________, because ____________.
- Dream a little dream. If you were doing exactly what you wanted to do, right now, at this very moment in your life…what would it be? How would you really like to be spending your time? What would your ideal daily schedule look like? It could totally look like being on a beach in Tahiti…or working at Google in the Marketing department…or it could be less detailed on the exact job role, but more detailed on your lifestyle around it (i.e. ‘waking up around 8 a.m. without an alarm, cooking a nice breakfast and drinking my coffee while reading the Times, then meeting with clients from 9 to noon, taking a break for an afternoon workout, etc.). What is your ideal? You CAN have that…you can…tap into the heart of the matter first though to start moving in that direction.
- Look outside the box. Indeed.com, Monster.com, Craigslist, even the Classifieds—these can feel like such a black hole. The same companies seem to run the ads on these sites, and it feels as though once you send off your resume, it gets swallowed up in a black hole. Instead of getting lost in cyberspace. Consider checking out the sites and contacting the businesses that truly interest you—regardless of whether they are hiring or not. Consider reaching out to the company owner, or person in a department that falls in line with your interests, to learn more about their business and what it is they do. You don’t have to be super forward from the get-go that you are looking for work. Rather, express interest in the company and the person—and start building bridges. I have a friend who has even landed her past 2 or 3 jobs from simply applying for the ‘internship’ listing on the site, that was otherwise closed for ‘regular paying’ gigs. Once she landed the internship interview, the companies realized she was way more than qualified, and she had the opportunity to get her foot in the door with an actual job position as a full-time employee.
- Work your network. If you are networking with strangers, you’re wasting your time. Or rather, you are not tapping into the greater power of the network you already have. LinkedIn, of course, is all about this, and Facebook is another tool. But what about your fellow gym goers at your gym, your church community, the people you regularly see at the grocery store or coffee shop…you never know the six-degrees of knowing people. Strike up conversation, and simply open the door to talking about job opportunities—and what you are considering and looking for…do they know anyone? You NEVER know.
- Get Out. Point 3 being said…it never hurts to meet people, and make strangers new friends. Don’t be shy. Check out the meet-ups and social networks within your community for simply socializing (i.e. sports and recreation teams; MeetUp.com; co-working spaces)…live your life…make new friends…and build more bridges and networks that are founded first and foremost on shared interests and experiences—not solely ‘looking for work’ (i.e. using people?). Pieces can fall into place.
- Don’t fall into the same-ol, same-ol trap. Not loving your work in the sales world? Or media and marketing world? Or _____ (you fill in the blank). Newsflash: You DON’T have to do it. Now, more than ever, people are graduating with college degrees in one thing…and by one way or another, doing something completely different. Don’t limit yourself to being able to only do ‘one thing.’ Granted there are some job descriptions you can’t fulfill (we can’t do it all)—but even with that…is there a backwards way of gaining experience in some form or fashion in a new industry or job role that interests you? Perhaps.
- Play reporter. What do I mean? Take some time to collect information. Rather than feeling like you have to apply left and right to X-Y-and-Z, constantly network or look on Indeed.com…really take some time in this job hunt, or job dreaming, process to seek out, and collect information about the various jobs, and/or areas of the marketplace that you see yourself potentially working in. Take into consideration variables such as:
- Work environment
- Daily to-dos
- Exciting things about the job
- Mundane, boring, tough things about the job
- Ability to maintain work-life balance
- Do one thing. If you are in that ‘job rut’—or in between of wanting to find and do your dream job…you can’t do any fishing unless you get off the bank. That being said, you don’t have to ‘do it all’ in one day (this whole job search/networking thing). Focus on doing one thing per day in this process of trying to figure out what it is you want to do…or actually switching jobs or getting a new job. Maybe that simply means taking a pen to paper and writing out your ‘dreams’…or updating your resume, or sending out your resume to one company/person, or scheduling a coffee meeting with one person…little steps will help pave the way. And, if you are in the business of creating or starting your own business (i.e. self-employing yourself!) then this philosophy can apply as well. Pick the top 1-4 priorities you want to focus on that day towards your business or brand…and do just that.