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Is the idea of a “dream job” dangerous?

I recently came across an article titled “The Danger of the Dream Job Delusion” that made the assertion that believing in “dream jobs” is not only a distraction, it’s downright dangerous.

The author states:

“The more you’re bombarded with messages promoting the dream job path to happiness, the more likely you are to ossify your view of the working world into normal, boring jobs vs. exciting dream jobs. Once you’ve made this division, you’re much less likely to start investing the hard, unsexy, longterm work into your current career needed to grow it into something deeply fulfilling. You’ll instead save this mental energy for your vague day dreams of starting a small town wine store or teaching surfing in Cabo.”

Here’s the thing – everyone’s idea of a dream job is different.  I have a friend (Matt) who is obsessed with numbers and analytics.  He majored in mathematical science and loves nothing more than being locked away in an office all day long, building financial models.  While many people would not consider the idea of spending 8 hours of one-on-one time with their computer “dreamy”, Matt does and frankly, isn’t that all that matters?

Dream jobs do not have to be unrealistic, unattainable or based in fantasy.  Some dream of being a fashion stylist to the stars and others dream of being pilots.  I’ve coached people who dream of being professors, event planners, and even credit counselors!  The point is that these are THEIR dreams.

What the author fails to mention is that there are scores of people who are honestly unfulfilled with their current positions for many reasons.  They feel stuck in their jobs.  They feel guilty about pursuing their dream jobs because they feel grateful for having a job (any job) in this economy. Their education led them to their current jobs.  They are getting paid very well. The list goes on and on.

What’s dangerous about pursuing something that will leave you fulfilled?  What’s wrong with living your passion?  What’s delusional about actually looking forward to going to work every day?  Have you ever heard of someone that “worked themselves to death”?  Someone that continuously plowed away at a job that left them empty and with nothing left to give.  I have.  Who wants that future?

So again, I ask – You don’t have to LOVE your job, but shouldn’t you??

11 Responses so far.

  1. [...] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Monique E., Monique E.. Monique E. said: New Blog Post! Is the idea of a dream job, dangerous?? http://www.golden-parachutes.com/2010/11/is-the-idea-of-a-dream-job-dangerous/ [...]

  2. Moneymonk says:

    I’m in a cross a well paying job and a passion for my hobby. For now I have the best of both worlds -cool job and a great hobby. I wrote down a set date I will make the leap

  3. Tamara says:

    Love this. I want a job I love and I do believe I can have it!

  4. jonny l says:

    a dream job is just as is stated a dream otherwise why would we get paid for it?

  5. Ian Jones says:

    Jonny, you say that a ‘dream job’ is merely a dream but I don’t think you can discount the possibility of finding a job that both pays the bills whilst being fulfilling and enjoyable. In my experience, unless you believe that you have the right to feel satisfied in employment, you will not find yourself in a rewarding career. I’m not saying that the ideal or perfect job is out there for everybody- every job has its less enjoyable or frustrating aspects. The important thing is to concentrate on the positive a enjoyable elements of your work, and by doing this I believe that you can create a dream job for yourself!

  6. There’s nothing wrong with having a dream job in mind, if you are taking practical steps towards doing it – re-training, for example. But if you spend every day dreaming and take no action – that is dangerous.

  7. Golden Parachutes says:

    Karen, action is the key! Without it, it remains just a dream.

  8. Jeannie says:

    “Dream jobs do not have to be unrealistic, unattainable or based in fantasy. Some dream of being a fashion stylist to the stars and others dream of being pilots. I’ve coached people who dream of being professors, event planners, and even credit counselors! The point is that these are THEIR dreams”.

    There is a difference between getting a dream job you would be good at and in and a dream job that is just that – a dream, probably out of your reach.

    Commitment and tenacity to do good in the area you choose is not likely to happen if a person is just dreaming.

  9. Colin says:

    Most of us would be lucky to have that dream job. So for the rest of us who are not so “fortunate”, we just need to refocus the dream part….say, “I can finally have my dream vacation/car/house after trudging day in and out of this dreary job.” Refocus. Realign. No matter how “bad” our situation may be, there will always be a bright spot that we should be thankful for.

    Property Management Thousand Oaks

  10. Angel says:

    When you have passion for something, everything that follows seem easy, because you love it. You are prepared to struggle against adversities or failures, continue to be resilient, because you know in the end, you will prosper despite of these trials. Treasure your job, not everyone has it right now.

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