How to recognize your dream job

Your dream job might not even exist yet.

When you were a child, what did you like to do most? I bet, looking back on your childhood, the answer will bring a smile to your face. Maybe it will even surprise you.

Deciding what to do back then was simple, because the only thing that impacted your decision was how much fun you would have. Children don’t worry about how much time it takes to finish a Lego figure, or how much money it costs to buy finger paint. They don’t do things for power or social status. They simply do what they like, and have fun. Why can’t we do what we want to do as adults?

Aside from the obvious answer that we need to make money, the reason we tend to get bogged down in career paths that don’t truly satisfy us is because we don’t know what we really want to do “when we grow up.”

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Adults begin asking us what we want to do or be from the time we can speak, instilling in us the expectation that if we know what we want to do, we’ll be okay. And if we don’t know what we want to do for the next 80 years of our lives, well, we’re hopeless.

But how much time has anyone–whether a parent or school counselor–really spent trying to help you figure out the answer to that question?

Sure, in high school, they give you the annual personality test and point you in a vague direction: “INFPs need to be creative, and don’t perform well in high-stress, team-driven environments.” “If there’s anything ENTJs love, it’s a good challenge.”

What if you would have been happier fixing cars than earning a master’s degree in engineering?

These tests will only re-affirm what you think you have to do, based on your current successes and failures.

These quips do very little to actually guide us toward the proper career. And if your family or teachers have already created the expectation that, based on your grades, you’d never make it through college; or that three generations of your family were lawyers, so you have to be as well; these tests will only re-affirm what you think you have to do, based on your current successes and failures.

But what if our dream job depended very little on our performance in school or our family legacies, and more on a true belief in ourselves? In fact, some of the most successful and career-happy people in history invented their own jobs. Michelangelo, Bill Gates, the founders of Google, Oprah.

What if our dream job is something no one has done before? We are hardly given the tools to know how to recognize this, much less how to begin defining our dream job. This is when it comes back to knowing yourself.

My challenge to you is to think back to when you a kid, focus on remembering what games you played, and which ones gave you the most joy. What did you do when you were alone and no one was watching?

Hold onto that memory. It’s the first step to figuring out the right job for you. Next, we’re going to discuss how you can make a living out of it.