The Dream Job – Does It Exist?

What comes to your mind when you think of a “dream job”?

A big pay check with a fancy job title? A convenient workplace with a beautiful view? A nice boss, surrounded by like-minded colleagues? A good work-life balance? Or all of the above?

A young man I met shared that his dream job was anything that would allow him to earn a lot of money because he wanted to retire early and pursue his passion in sports.

A working mother said that hers would be one that could supplement her household income and allow her more time with her family.

Yet another man quipped that his would be something that offered him lifelong employment and a place to be.

As we can see, “dream jobs” are different for every individual. It is our personal values and desires that shape them.

The irony of this is that we often get sucked into the means instead of the ends we desire. We focus so much on our jobs and the perks they bring, that we miss the whole point of why we are working.

Research from Princeton University has shown that while having income to meet daily living needs does make us happy, the pursuit of more income will not bring about more happiness. The findings show that the reverse happens – after reaching a certain level of income, people pursuing more money become more tense and participate less in activities they enjoy. Often, this is because they are involved in work activities they dislike, sacrificing time, relationships, or personal interests.

What does this mean for us?

Consider what the late theoretical physicist Stephen Hawking once said:

“Work gives you meaning and purpose, and life is empty without it.”

Finding your “dream job” starts from realising that our jobs are only a means to an end. Our jobs cannot give us meaning and purpose, but they can enable us to move towards what we desire in our lives. That itself can help us see our work as meaningful.

Start by defining what is truly meaningful to you and stay focused on that as your goal. For example, will you feel more fulfilled if you were working to meet a personal need, caring for your family, or trying to solve a societal problem?

At the same time, we also need to acknowledge that sometimes we need to let go of our jobs in order to move towards what we truly desire. Change is never easy but knowing why we need it will make it easier.

Reflection Questions:

  1. What are your motivations for working?
  2. What are you working towards?
  3. How can your job help you move closer to your “dreams”?

Quick tip: Read this article (Knowing Your Work Priorities) to have a better understanding on what matters most to you.