Graduation season is quickly approaching. Bright-eyed hopefuls will be entering the workforce looking for utopia. And even if they don’t find it within a few months after graduation, they’ll have expectations to embark upon a path that will lead to the deferred gratification of post-graduate land, extraordinary income, and power out of the wazoo. That’s what they’ve been promised all their lives – a life of fame and fortune. One that’s better than their peers who didn’t take the road most traveled (i.e. that University life).
I was one of those hopefuls. I had great expectations. Heck. My elementary school’s motto was “Reach for the stars.” My high school was pushing college prep left and right. And I went to the almighty Michigan State University. (Go Green!) I even have a Master’s Degree. I was on the road to being all I could be.
Then one day reality struck.
Sitting in an interview, I was asked what was my dream job. My response, “to be a marketing executive.” Little did I know, I was interviewing for my dream job. And I got it.
I hated it.
Long hours. Panic attacks. The illustrious laptop, meaning I could work from home…after I spent an entire day in the office. And a boss who…well saying she was less than kind is an understatement.
It was HORRIBLE. But I learned a valuable lesson from that job as well as jobs that preceded it and followed.
- Your dream job may not be what you think it’s cut out to be. Many of the elements may be there, but there will always be something. Whether it’s the boss, the hours, the work, the people or some other tension, there will always be an angst.
- You’ll need to redefine your dream. The amazing thing about living is time and choice. Maybe you decide that your initial dream wasn’t right for you. That’s okay. Take a moment to reflect on what you learned from it. Example: When I owned my business, I learned that I didn’t like looking for clients, pointless negotiation, legal stuff, and so on. I just liked being a marketer. That’s what I’m good at and that’s what I enjoy…so why torture myself doing things I don’t enjoy when I have an employer who works to at least tout work/life balance with the goal of you practicing it. Example 2: When working solely in strategic work, I learned that I craved the addition of creative tasks. This is when I moved from strategy to marketing communications, which combined the 2.
- You may redefine your dream over and over again, and that’s okay. I’ve going from wanting to be a pediatrician, to corporate/entertainment lawyer, to marketing executive to owning my own business to being fine within the corporate sector. My goal today: Get the most out of life – whatever it is – and don’t be selfish while doing it.
- You’ll eventually eliminate the fantasy. The fantasy is in the unlimited income, nice cars, house on the hill, cool bosses and unlimited benefits while everyone around you is on your side. One thing or another will give. With growth, you realize this and you start to look at what else is important. You’ll realize your job is just that, a job, not the total definition of your being. And with that realization, you’ll begin to find joy in other things…not allowing your job to be the Debbie Downer in your life. And if you’re like me, you’ll be able to decipher temporal from flat-out hellish and make choice decisions guided by love and logic.