I saw a post on Facebook yesterday in which one of my friends said that they wish that their “dream job” would be handed to them by the universe and fall right into their lap. I think that this “wish” was intended to be sarcastic, because come on now…It’s crazy to think that the universe would just magically offer someone their own personal “dream job”. If such a thing were possible, wouldn’t everybody do it?
I’ll answer that question in a bit.
When I read this status, the first thing that I thought of was “just quit your job and work for yourself…duh”. That’s pretty much the basic premise of this website in case you haven’t figured that out already :)…But that’s assuming that you’re interested in becoming self-employed though.
I realize that self-employment may not be for everyone. In fact, the majority of people that I meet have no desire whatsoever to ever pursue such a thing. It’s not that they are scared (although a lot of people are, in which case I encourage you to read through some of my other articles). Rather, many people simply just want to spend their time working at a job. It’s a sure-fire way to earn money quickly. The steps on how to succeed are clear (just go to work, do your job and get paid), whereas the path in attempting to earn a living on your own is not always so straight-forward and obvious. Also, having a full-time job gives people something to do with themselves. Not everybody has hobbies that occupy their time and keep them feeling productive. Instead, many people find themselves getting bored very quickly when they have off work for extended periods of time. There are many other reasons why people have no interest in the pursuit of self-employment as well.
Now back to the question – “If you could just simply ‘ask the universe’ for your dream job to magically appear, and you would automatically be offered that job…if such a thing were possible, wouldn’t everybody be doing it and wouldn’t everybody be working their dream jobs?”
Well, despite the fact that just the idea of self-employment was in fact my own personal “dream job”, I do still have some actionable advice to offer to those who are in search of their own personal dream job but have no desire to follow my exact path. In fact, I do believe that ‘the universe’ can offer you your dream job, but you must first realize that what you are really seeking is some sort of sign, indicator, or trigger that will lead you to take the right steps in ultimately finding what you are looking for.
Define your dream job
In defining your dream job, you should be EXTREMELY specific about exactly what it is that you wish you were doing. Statements such as “I want to work in the music industry” or “I want to be an engineer” or “I want to do hands-on” work are not specific enough. If you are fresh out of school, it may be difficult to define exactly what it is that you want to be doing for a living. In fact, if you are fresh out of school, making money is most likely your primary concern.
However, if you’ve been out of school, living on your own and are already slotted into some type of career path (whatever it may be), you more than likely know very well what it is that you like to do with your time. You also probably know very well what it is that you don’t like doing. After several years of working for a living, you probably have some sort of daily routine that you do at work. You also probably have certain overlooked aspects of your job that you enjoy doing. However, you find yourself unhappy with your job because there are more things that you hate about your daily routine than you enjoy.
For now consider only the things that you enjoy doing. You are going to make a list of things that you REALLY ENJOY doing, and you are then going to use the items on that list to assist you in your search for your dream job. Some of the things that you are interested in may not seem as if they are potentially lucrative ideas, but that doesn’t matter. Put anything and everything that you are interested on to this list. Also, some things that you do throughout your day that you enjoy may seem very minuscule and non-important. Again, it doesn’t matter how small or seemingly irrelevant it seems; if it interests you, add it to the list!
This is a long post, and this next section explains how I defined my own personal “dream job”. If you want to skip this part, and just get some actionable advice, you can scroll down to the section “Thinking outside of the box when it comes to looking for your ideal job”.
My typical work day as an engineer, and how I used it to define my own personal dream job
As with most jobs, there usually wasn’t enough work to fully occupy a full 9-hour shift.
It’s like when the boss says, “You’re not doing anything? Go sweep the floor.”
“But I already swept the floor sir.”
“Well, go do it again.”
Most managers want to see their employees looking like they are being productive. Of course employers want employees to be good at their job too, but that’s pretty much a given. However, more often than not “looking productive” while you are on the clock is just one of those things that we all have to learn how to do. Even if there really is nothing to do, we still must act like we are doing something. It was at these times of “faking productivity” that I really figured out what I enjoyed doing with my time.
During these periods of down-time, I found ways to keep myself occupied by doing work-related things that weren’t necessarily part of my job description. One thing that I did was learn to create Microsoft Excel programs that made my job easier to do. My job as an engineer involved a lot of repetitive calculations which were prone to error; if I was tired, than these calculations were even more error-prone. Therefore, I spent a lot of time creating these Excel programs that would do these calculations for me. Some of these programs would take 5+ hours to create, test, and troubleshoot. However, I knew that by simply putting in the initial hard work to build the program(s), my life thereafter would be that much easier.
I would have never learned that I had this particular skill had it not been for the fact that I was just trying to appear busy. If my boss were to walk into the room and ask me what I was doing, I would simply say “I’m working on creating this program that can handle this (work-related) task for me.” It was either that or let it be blatantly obvious that I had nothing to do, and I was just hanging around on company time, getting paid to do nothing. I really was just trying to keep busy, but in doing so I found that I really enjoyed writing these programs. I don’t know why, but something about computer programming-related stuff just interests me…I’m a nerd I know. I just like math, music theory and things that are based on rules and logic. It’s just how my brain works.
- Point 1: I realized that I really enjoyed writing useful computer programs.
Prior to working there, I knew nothing about Microsoft Excel or how to write programs with it. I did know what Excel was capable of doing, and I knew that if I really tried that I could always figure things out on my own. However, I really had no knowledge about how to write Excel programs; I figured it all out by myself, on company time. I quickly began to realize just how effective these programs were. I was actually dumbfounded when it occurred to me that 75% of my job could actually be automated through the creation of these Excel programs. I was also shocked to find out that I was able to find a solution to this seemingly-obvious “problem” that prior engineers have always just dealt with all along.
- Point 2: I realized that I had a knack for “figuring things out” that I didn’t already knew how to do
My job involved lots of redundant calculations, just with slightly different variables. The programs that I made would simply allow someone to plug in the known values, and it would then automatically calculate the answers. I made these programs to work in a very user-friendly manner so that anyone could use them as well. It was extremely interesting and eye-opening when I saw the potential for all the things that I could do in order to automate my job. Therefore, I just kept learning more and more about how to write these programs. I found myself extremely excited every time I saw an opportunity to make a new one that would take care of yet another one of my redundant tasks. You may be thinking that I was shooting myself in the foot by writing programs that would automate my job. However, I wasn’t concerned with that. Even with access to all of these useful programs, someone would still need a basic understanding of when, how, and why to use them. Since I was the one that created these programs, I had a complete understanding of their purpose.
- Point 3: I realized that I was actually way more interested in the process of “automating” my job than I was in the actual job itself.
Over time, I found that I was actually way more interested in actually making my job easier for myself than I was in the actual job itself. Any time that I encountered another redundant task that could be automated, I would immediately begin creating a new program. For almost 3 years, I was pretty much entirely driven to completely automate my job. Of course I never let it be known exactly what I was doing. Most people that would glance at my work area would just see a bunch of numbers and calculations written down, and excel spreadsheets on my computer screen.
No one, not even my boss, knew that I was essentially creating individual programs that could handle almost every single aspect of my job. Again, I wasn’t concerned about losing my job. Rather, if my boss knew exactly what I was up to, he most likely would’ve give me more work and responsibility (but without the extra pay)…As I pointed out previously, employers are always very concerned with having their employees “looking productive”. If my boss knew that most of my daily tasks, which used to take hours to do, could now be done in SECONDS, surely he’d give me more “stuff” to do that would occupy my full 9-hour shift. If the extra work was fairly compensated for, than I wouldn’t mind doing more “stuff”. However, I was simply doing my job duties…only I was doing them in a much more intelligent manner. The company’s logic is that “since you can do all of that work in just seconds, you can now do all of this extra work with your newly-found free time. You won’t be getting paid any more money though because you are still working the same amount of hours.” I didn’t like that logic. Therefore, I focused more on maintaining the appearance of being productive all day long.
Over time, I ended up creating so many of these programs, that my job actually became TOO easy. I understood every single aspect of the inner-workings of my job so well, and pretty much everything that the previous engineers used to do by hand calculation, could now be done simply by entering numbers into an Excel program and immediately receiving the answer.
As I said, I still had to look productive though, so rather than sitting back and relaxing in my chair and watching YouTube videos, I instead would sit up straight in my chair reading and posting on internet forums all the time. I never even knew what a forum was before I had that job. However, I now know that there are forums on just about every single topic you could possibly think of. I learned so much about so many things that I was interested in – Guitar, music theory, weight-lifting, Jiu-Jitsu, MMA, sex tips, self-employment, piano, drugs, travelling, how to dress, and just about anything and everything else that crossed my mind in the 9-hour period that I was at work.
- Point 4: I found out that I really liked writing, teaching, and learning about many different topics that I didn’t even know that I was interested in.
I used forum posting as a means to appear as if I was still doing something productive and work-related. Usually I would have a half-written email open in a separate window, and if anyone from management would walk by me as I was typing something on a forum, I would quickly hit “Alt+Tab” so it would like like I was in the middle of writing an email.
Now, posting on forums really is not work-related at all (unless I was posting on a forum in order to get an answer to some sort of job-related task, but I wasn’t doing that), but as I said, I spent a couple of years making my job very EASY for myself. I made my job so easy, and because of that I had lots of free-time to do whatever I wanted. Is there a rule that says that I must spend my full 9 hours doing work-related tasks, when in reality all of my daily tasks could be completed in a matter of minutes? No, there’s not a rule that says that at all, but I would never try to explain that logic to my boss. Rather then telling him that I created programs to do all of my work for me, I instead just kept producing quality and error-free work while I quietly utilized my time doing other things that interested me.
I learned so much just by sitting on the internet every day reading and posting on forums. I found out that I had skills and interests that I was completely unaware of. I was constantly getting positive comments about how clearly I was able to define and offer a solution to people’s problems. I interpreted that to mean that I was a good writer. I also found out that a lot of things that I knew about that I just took for granted were actually “unique skills”. I learned this because of the fact that there were so many questions that I saw on forums that I just considered to be “basic knowledge”.
So just by “killing time” and attempting to make myself look productive, I realized many things that I was good at, but even more importantly, I figured out many things that I was interested in.
In assessing my skills/interests, I came up with the following list:
- Creating simple math-based Excel programs that do useful things for me
- Teaching people information on topics that I know a lot about
- Conveying my thoughts through writing
- Organizing things (computer files, filing cabinets, systems that people followed, etc.) EXACTLY the way I want them
- Doing challenging math problems that I know have a practical purpose (ie. I created an eBay profit calculator that I include with my eBay book which is fairly-heavily math-based)
- Playing live music
- Learning and teaching music theory
- Learning Piano
- Lifting weights
- Training Jiu-jistu
- Spending my time in a manner that I consider to be efficient and productive (as opposed to just trying to “act productive”)
Prior to creating this list, I knew that I liked “playing guitar” and “I was an engineer”. Just those two things alone really don’t give me many options other than:
- I could try to get another “engineering job” (something I really wasn’t interested in)
- I could try to get paid to play music (not a lucrative enough job that would allow me to leave me current job and still pay my mortgage)
However, after assessing what truly interested me and how I spent my days, a whole new array of potential job opportunities were presented to me:
- Computer programming
- A strictly math-related job
- Some sort of job in writing (freelance writing, article writing, etc.)
- Personal training
- Guitar lessons
- Working in a music store
- Becoming a music teacher
- Working towards becoming a martial arts instructor
- Becoming a math teacher
My “skill” was engineering. That’s the path that I had become slotted into during the 7 years that I was employed as an engineer, which was my first real job out of school. However, I just had no interest whatsoever in looking for another engineering job. Still, that was my skill; that’s what I went to school for. Therefore if I wanted another job, I had to look for some type of engineering position. I loved playing live music, but I knew that alone would never be enough to cover all of my expenses.
Or did I?
What about all the other skills that I listed above that actually INTERESTED me? What about all of those things that I learned and figured out during my downtime while I was attempting to look productive? Was there any rule that said that I had to continue in the engineering field? Was there any rule saying that I even had to continue working at a typical “9 to 5” type job at all? Were there any actual rules at all in what I did with my life so long as I earned enough money each month to cover my bills? Is there any rule that said that I needed to work exactly 9 hours a day in order to earn one paycheck? Or could I instead focus on several different points of interest, all of which yield varying amounts of money?
In assessing my different interests, most of which I was completely unaware of before I began taking a deep look into what REALLY interested me, I realized that I was being way too narrow-minded in thinking that my only option to get out of my current job was to look for another similar job.
Thinking “outside the box” when it comes to looking for your ideal job
- What do you spend the majority of your days doing?
- What things do you do that actually interest you whether directly related to your job or not?
- What unique skills do you have that you use at work every day?
- What unique skills do you have that you use on a daily basis that aren’t related to your job?
- When browsing the internet, what do you spend your time doing (aside from wasting time on social media sites)?
- Do you find that there are things that you know how to do that you take for granted?
- Have you ever considered going into an entirely new line of work that has nothing to do with your current job?
- If you want to get out of your current job, do you think that maybe another similar job would ultimately leave you feeling the same way?
- Are there jobs and/or opportunities out there that are based on things that you are interested in?
- Are there jobs out there that you could offer your unique skills for (which you take for granted since you feel that are ‘basic knowledge)?
After defining your ideal job, and creating a list of your interests and skills, ask yourself those questions. You may be surprised to find that your thinking up until now has been way too one-dimensional. If you’re currently involved in real-estate, but you actually really hate real estate, you most likely are not going to find another real estate job that truly makes you happy.
Just because you’ve been doing things a certain way up until now, does not mean that you have to continue doing things the same way. You are completely free to DRASTICALLY change your situation at any time you want.
So did ‘the universe’ hand me my current employment situation in which I write eBooks, blogs, use forum posting as a marketing tool, create useful computer programs for myself and other people, give theory-based guitar lessons, play live music at night…all of which I do completely on my own terms?
However, if I would’ve never determined what it was that I actually enjoyed doing, how would I have ever known what steps to take in order to achieve my dream job? How would the universe know what ideas to give me?
First figure out what your dream job actually entails, and then ask the universe to start helping you out. You may find that your dream job was right in front of you all along, but you were too blind to see it.
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