“It’s my dream job.”
How many times have we heard variations of this phrase? It usually pops up when someone is interviewing for a job that sounds like a wonderful, perfect fit, or after they just accepted the offer.
If you follow up with them a few years later, it’s likely that reality has set in. It may have turned out to be a very good job, a decent job, a tolerable job, or an absolute horror show. But if they’re still sticking to the “dream job” line, they’re either (1) truly fortunate; (2) fibbing a bit to keep up appearances; or (3) deluding themselves.
The idea of a dream job reflects high, often pie-in-the-sky expectations that may ignore the realities of organizations, human behavior, and economics. Indeed, the very concept of a career or a vocation that blends a good salary or wage with a chance to do inherently rewarding work is very much a product of a first world, late 20th century, upwardly mobile culture. A century ago, I doubt that many people were thinking in such a manner.
In the meantime, there are bills to be paid and mouths to be fed. These are not trifling matters. In fact, basic survival is what most of the world confronts on a daily basis.
Furthermore, even a good paying job may be short on psychic income. There are plenty of people who are toiling away mainly for the money, sometimes sacrificing their own desires in order to pay a mortgage or to send the kids through school.
Dream jobs may be few and far between, but I’m not suggesting that we give up on finding great meaning and a decent paycheck in our work. When it comes to pursuing our life’s purposes and passions, I’m still a romantic.
I think it boils down to expectations and aspirations grounded in reality. The world of work may disappoint us at times. But we can strive to create better opportunities for ourselves and to take full advantage of those presented to us.
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