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Dream Careers Begin When You Take Your Dream Into Your Career

Dream Careers Begin When You Take Your Dream Into Your Career

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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Featured photo credit: Md Asaduzzaman Tarek via flickr.com

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Last Updated on September 20, 2018

How to Be Happy at Work and Find Fulfillment in Your Career

How to Be Happy at Work and Find Fulfillment in Your Career

If you’re going to spend 1/3 of our life at work, you should enjoy it, right?

Trust me, I know that’s easier said than done. Difficult coworkers, less-than-desirable tasks, or even just being in the wrong position can all lead to a lack of enjoyment and fulfillment in your work.

But what if I told you it doesn’t have to be this way? Or better yet, if you struggle with all of the above (and then some), what if I told you that enjoying your work and finding fulfillment regardless of those obstacles is possible?

Don’t believe me? I don’t blame you because I was there too. Before implementing the tips below, I struggled to get through each day, much less find real fulfillment, in the office. Now, even after the toughest days on the job, I still come away with feelings of pride, accomplishment, and fulfillment. The best news is, so can you.

If you’re ready to make those hours count and find happiness and fulfillment in the office, then read on to find out how to be happy at work and find fulfillment in your career:

1. Discover the root(s) of the problem

For this first step, we’ll need to think back to 8th-grade physics (humor me). We all know Newton’s 3rd law, “for every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction.” When you think about it, the same can be said outside of physics, and we see this law play out in our daily lives, day after day.

Simply put, all the issues we deal with in the office (and life in general) affect us in a noticeable way.

If you’re appreciated at work, like the work you do and receive frequent praise, promotions, or raises, then this will probably have an altogether positive effect on your life in the office.

But what if we reverse this? What if you feel under appreciated, get passed up for promotions, or get denied raises? This is sure to affect the way you feel at work on a negative level.

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So, before you can implement the steps of feeling happy and fulfilled at work, we first have to discover the reasons why you don’t feel that way already.

Think about it, write a list, or make a mental note. Run through all the reasons you’re dissatisfied in the office, and don’t hold back. Knowing the exact obstacles you’re facing will make overcoming them that much easier.

In fact, as a side-challenge to this article, I recommend picking the top three reasons contributing to your dissatisfaction at work and using the following tips to tackle them.

2. Practice gratitude for an instant uplift

Did you know the simple act of feeling grateful can increase your happiness and make you more fulfilled at work?[1]

Well, it’s true, and it’s scientifically proven.

Dr. Lisa Firestone notes that practicing gratitude “reminds us of what we lacked in the past.” Meaning, it serves as both a boost to happiness and a bit of a wake-up call that things have been or could be, much worse.

Trying to conjure up feelings of gratitude can seem almost impossible when your work situation seems bleak, but hear me out: There are incredibly easy ways to get started and it doesn’t involve trying to “force” yourself to feel grateful about things that stress you out.

For an instant pick-me-up, try this:

Find a loose piece of paper, a blank sticky note, or anything you can write on, be it physical or digital. List just three things that you are absolutely without-a-doubt thankful for in your life.

Now here’s the trick: Don’t just list what you’re grateful for, you have to list why you’re grateful for them, too.

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For example, simply saying “I’m grateful for my kids” will probably make you feel good, sure, but what if we could amplify the warm, fuzzy feeling into real, lasting motivation?

Instead, write the reason you’re so thankful for your children. Is it because they make you laugh and forget about other stressors? Or maybe they help to remind you of why you go to work every day in the first place?

Whatever your reasons may be, jot them down and keep your list somewhere you can see it while you work. A quick glance at your gratitude list throughout the day can provide powerful, positive motivation to keep going.

Bonus:

If you can find just three things to be thankful for that specifically relate to your job, and list why those things make you grateful, your list can also help you find fulfillment in your work itself which can give you an even bigger boost of positivity throughout the day.

3. Take meaningful time for yourself

We all know creating a strong work-life balance can be crucial to feeling satisfied in our jobs, but rarely do we ever address how we’re spending our time outside of work.

Many of us survive a 9-hour work day and commute home only to find ourselves busy with our personal to-do lists, running a household, and taking care of a child (or 2 or 3, and so on).

If you spend all your time working, whether in the office or within your household, you’re going to feel drained at some point. This is why setting meaningful time for yourself every day is highly important.

Look, I get it: I don’t know anyone in the working world who can shun all responsibility for a 3-movie marathon or happy hour with friends whenever they feel like it. But finding time for yourself, be it just 30 minutes to an hour, can really make a difference in how you feel at work.

This works because you’ll have time to actually relax and let the day’s stress melt away while you enjoy something just for you. The to-do lists and stressors will still be there after you’re refreshed and ready to tackle them.

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No time for me-time? Try this:

If you have a busy household, you’ll need to capitalize on a block of time you know will be completely uninterrupted. The easiest way to do this: try waking up 30 minutes to an hour earlier than usual (or push bedtime back an hour if you’re a night owl, like me) and take time to do something you enjoy.

This could be reading with a cup of tea, catching up on Facebook, spending time on a passion project—anything! As long as it’s meaningful to you, it works!

Bonus:

Starting your day with meaningful time for yourself can set you up to have a positive mood that lasts well into office hours, and having your me-time in the evening can give you something positive to look forward to during the day.

4. Get productive and feel accomplished

Don’t you just love the feeling of checking the last item off of a hefty to-do list? That’s because self-motivation can be a huge driver of positivity and success.

When we accomplish something, no matter how small, it makes us feel good, plain and simple. Applying this tactic to your daily work can be the motivator you need to find fulfillment during the daily office grind.

While there are tons of steps to get more done at work, I’ll share my personal favorite: Prioritizing.

Now, many people handle prioritizing differently. Some like to tackle the little tasks first so they can spend focused time on the big to-dos. Others like to knock out the big items first and get to the smaller ones when they can.

No matter which camp you’re in, you may be missing one crucial step: Time management.

So how’s this work? When you factor in the amount of time your priorities will take, it can transform your productivity ten-fold.

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Say you have three top priorities for the day. You might jump into the smaller ones or the bigger ones depending on your preferred method, and then find yourself out of time and bringing work home with you at the end of the day.

This is prevented when you factor in time. Knowing how long each item will take, or deliberately setting specific blocks of time for your priorities can help you accomplish more in the same 8-9 (or 12) hours that you typically spend at work.

Try this:

Take a look at your priorities and consider how long they should take. Pop into your Google calendar (or Filofax, whatever works for you) and schedule time to work on your priority items around any important meetings or events of the day.

The most important thing to remember is to stick to your dedicated time.

Often, when we know exactly how long we have to work on something (and honor this time limit), we’re motivated to get more done on time to avoid taking work home at the end of the day.

The bottom line

There’s no need to waste 1/3 of our lives feeling unsatisfied at work. Luckily, you now have the tools to get started, take back your time, and become happy and fulfilled at work again.

The only question is — which tip will you try first?

Featured photo credit: Ellyot via unsplash.com

Reference

[1]Psychology Today: The Healing Power of Gratitude

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