What do American Idol, Ms. World, and The Olympics have in common? They’re competitions and you’ll inevitably hear participants gush “This is a dream come true for me!” In life, we all look forward to dreams coming true.  Some experience it early on. Others wait for a long time.  A few suddenly realize they’re already living their dream!  And then there are those who don’t know what a dream-come-true looks like but keep waiting for it to show up. Your dream life ties up with a dream career.  Your vision can be nebulous or clear, constant or shifting. What matters is you keep that vision of your dream.  Whichever type of work you’re in, here’s how taking your dream into your career can get you that dream career.

Your dream serves like a destination. You get there faster.

Reggie loved to draw as a 4-year old.  She doodled on notebooks,  dinner napkins, place mats, toilet paper, walls – on any surface!  Many children do that.  Unlike  other children, Reggie’s drawings now grace pages of award-winning books, tumblers in hip cafes in Europe, planners favored by picky environmentalists, popular wall papers for androids, and cool T-shirts selling online. She belongs to a group of respected illustrators and artists who are in regular demand. Doing what she loves and getting paid well for it, she has the freedom to travel or  do nothing for a while, if it hits her fancy.  How did she get there? She recognized her dream career at age four and kept going.

Your dream guides you. You make deliberate decisions.

When you know the journey’s destination, it’s simple to find transport  that gets you there. Visualize your dream career and make each decision by answering, “Does this get me closer to my dream?”  Many incoming college freshmen are not sure if their chosen course is right for them. Karina was an exception.  She was sure it was NOT what she wanted to pursue, but her parents were a big influence (read pressure). A dutiful daughter, Karina finished the 4-year Nursing course her parents insisted on.  Then she calmly declared she will begin studies in HER chosen field – business management.  Karina gave in to her parent’s wishes but never let go of her vision.  Now all her decisions are directed straight to her dream career in business.

Your dream career doesn’t have to be etched in stone. You gauge if it needs tweaking.

I was ecstatic after passing the state university entrance exams but my dream course was filled up.  I settled for another course with plans to shift to my preferred course at the earliest possible time. The right time never came up in the next 4 years, until I completed my Bachelor of Science Degree in Hotel and Restaurant Management.  There were  raised eyebrows from my loftily intellectual and socially idealistic peers, but I was determined to begin my working life and accepted the unavoidable shift. The hotel career I had “settled for” led to such a wealth of lessons, challenges, fun, adventure, travel, unforgettable experiences, and long-lasting friendships.  Many times along the way, I have gushed, “This is a dream come true for me!”

But what if you find yourself doing work that is nowhere near your dream career and you don’t exactly feel fulfilled doing it?  Reverse the process.  Take your dream into the job and work like you’re living your dream. The enjoyment you get out of any type of work is in direct proportion to the amount of interest, attention, and commitment you put into it.

Appreciate the miracle of having a job and work cheerfully. There are people in the world whose dream IS to have a job – any job!

Check out the unemployment figures. The International Labor Organization Global Employment Trends 2013 reports the number of unemployed worldwide is projected to increase to 205 million in 2014 (from 197 million in 2012) as economic growth slows.  Meanwhile fresh graduates are joining the labor force each year.  This information is meant to, hopefully, add a grateful spring to your step as you head to work. Don’t allow an attitude of dissatisfaction push you into turning in a sloppy job.  Remember, you get out of work what you put into it.  And yes, there are many people waiting in the wings who are qualified and ready to replace you at any time.

Do your best with every task, no matter how tedious it is. They are baby steps to your dream career.

When you join the work force, it doesn’t matter if you’ve graduated from a prestigious university.  You’re just another newbie coming in at entry level position, so be ready for tedious tasks. It was Christmas season when I began training at the marketing department of the InterContinental Hotel. Wearing a smart blazer, skirt and high heels, I half sat, half slumped on the floor next to a desk piled high with hundreds of presents for the hotel’s top clients. My instructions — “Wrap them all up by lunchtime!”  I was lucky. The other trainee (also in high heels) was  running around fetching stuff for the sales department divas. Take tedious tasks in the spirit of necessary training to test your mettle.   While you’re at it, be the best gift-wrapper or stuff-fetcher.  It will make the task enjoyable and develop your patience and people skills.

Welcome additional responsibility.  It could mean a promotion to your dream position.

What’s your reaction when your supervisor assigns you additional tasks and/or staff?  Yes, initial resistance is normal.  Try looking at it this way.

  • Your superior trusts in you and believes you are capable.
  • You gain new skills and knowledge.
  • Each new work experience adds to your professional portfolio and makes you highly valuable in the jobs market.

The additional responsibility could, in fact, soon be followed by an official promotion with full benefits … IF you handle the challenge well.

A dream career is not about the money.

I know people who don’t mind getting paid at the lower end of the scale because they love what they’re doing.  Then there are people who are paid really well but feel miserable because they haven’t found their passion.  Some dream careers begin with a clear vision and a straight path. Other dream careers blossom from an unavoidable shift to a less-preferred course. Both situations follow this chronology:

  1. Passion fuels quality work and excellent performance.
  2. Opportunities show up regularly.
  3. Money follows inevitably.

By no means is money unimportant. It’s just not the first thing in the equation.  Observe when people talk about their dream life or dream career. Their eyes are shining and their voices are raised in excitement or hushed in reverence as they describe the experience. Money doesn’t show up in the conversation.

Observe too when the participants in American Idol, Ms. World, and the Olympics gratefully gush “This is a dream come true for me!”  It is usually AFTER they get eliminated. You see, living one’s dream is not about winning either.

Featured photo credit: Md Asaduzzaman Tarek via flickr.com

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