It's Sunday night. You're feeling chilled out after a great weekend with friends or family (or even riding solo), and you head to bed looking forward to Monday. You love your job, not just because you love your coworkers, or because you can take your dog to the office, but because you love your job. Plus, your bills are all paid on time, and you have enough money to treat yo self right through until the next pay day. That sounds like a pretty amazing set-up, right?
When it comes to our jobs, we'd all love to be in a situation where this is the case. We want to be in a job where we wake up in the morning, stroll into the office and not have that sense of dread. Same goes for Sunday morning blues — it would be great if we could end our weekend happily, rather than have that feeling in the pit of your stomach that makes you wish you could sleep forever, rather than facing work the next day. Whilst this would be perfect for all of us, and many of us are well on our way to reaching a work life that seamlessly blends with our personal life and our passions, there are many of us that are equally as clueless about what a dream job actually is.
Growing up, I thought a dream job meant a pop star, a model, a socialite (shout out to Paris Hilton) — something that had the money, the glitz and glamour, and maybe the fame, too. What I didn't realise was that a dream job doesn't mean that you have to be rolling in it, or that you have to have extreme popularity and appear on magazine covers or Forbes lists. Whilst financial success and recognition on any scale is wonderful, that's not what makes a dream job. A lot of us, whether we grow out of it or not, have a very skewed perception of what a dream job is, so let's change that.
The basic elements that make up a dream job are as follows:
1. What you do well
What are your strengths? We're not talking CV-style strengths, like punctuality and teamwork. What are you good at? Are you an artist? A writer? Do you take great photographs? Are you amazing at public speaking? Is business your thing? What ever it is, jot down things that you do well — it can be a single thing, or a full list.
2. What you can be paid to do
This is where you can think about what makes money. Whilst it's helpful to look at something related to your skills and make note of what makes bank, you might want to open it up on a wider spectrum. You might be surprised at what you think of.
3. What you want to do
We're pretty good at telling ourselves that we want to do x, when really we want to do y. This time, think about what you love, what you really want to do. Forget about the financial elements, the qualifications, and any kind of barrier that could be in your way. Write down some suggestions without inhibitions, and focus on your passions.
This is part one of working out your dream job. I'm going to use my career as an example of bringing these three pillars together. I wanted to be a writer, and that was my key skill, with editing and creative direction as secondary strengths. From that, I could work in magazines predominantly, and because my area of expertise is women's fashion and lifestyle, that specifies the market I could work in. And that's what I did to begin with, before I took my time off to focus on my health. Then it's all about what I wanted to do. I still love fashion, beauty, and women's lifestyle, but there were too many things about the industry that I disagreed with. As a fat woman, size exclusion was one of them, but overall lack of diversity was a big no-no for me. Same goes for airbrushing and pushing unattainable beauty standards, some of which that weren't even real. But in my industry, those things came part and parcel, and I couldn't opt out of them. What I really wanted to do was work somewhere - anywhere - that wrote about the things I wanted to write about without the smoke and mirrors or any of the beauty standard bullshit. And here I am now, running The Unedit, and doing things I never thought possible.
From there, we need to look at where the elements individually intersect in order to find what's missing in order to cultivate our dream job. Combining steps one and two leaves us paid and doing our job well, but not necessarily happy or fulfilled. Here, the only real motivator is money, so you may find that you're saying yes to more projects that you don't necessarily want to. Learn to say no. Just because you can do it, doesn't mean you should.
Move on to the intersection between steps two and three: when you're getting paid to do what what you want/love. Jackpot, right? Not quite. These two crossed over look great on paper, but here, step one (i.e. your skill) is missing. How do you rectify it? Work on it, learn to get better at it, and develop those skills. Once you've done that, you're one step closer to that dream job.
Time to loop back round to step one, at the intersection between doing what you love and what you do well. This sounds even more perfect because you're putting your skills to something that you're passionate about, and the two work harmoniously. That's great and all, but you've got bills to pay. So now, you need to nail learning how to monetise what you do.
So to summarise, here are the lessons that'll get you on your way to getting your dream nine-to-five:
1. Learn to say no to projects that don't fulfil you; money is not the only signifier of success in a career.
2. Learn to do things better: sharpen up strengths that fall outside of your general skillset, so that money can coexist with job satisfaction and passion.
3. Learn to monetise what you do well and in a way that it centres what you love.
Master all that, and you're golden, girl. Keep up the hustle.