AJ: I remember as a high schooler and college student repeatedly saying “I don’t know what I want to do with my life, I could be happy doing a lot of different things!” and that really still holds true for me today. We had the unfortunate benefit of graduating from college in the summer of 2008 when looking for a job was less than ideal and when looking for “the right job” really wasn’t practical. In an era of layoffs, pay reductions and hiring freezes the concept of finding one’s “dream job” in the traditional sense is a distant thought for most of us. I think if you asked a group of working people now what their “dream job” is they would say one that pays a consistent salary, offers benefits and allows them time to spend with their family. That’s a drastic shift from the artists, writers and transient photographers some of us dreamed of as kids.
As you look for your “dream job” start with the practical things:
- How much do you need to earn in a month to cover your basic expenses? Car and house payments/rent, insurance and bills, groceries, gas, cell phone, etc. Can you find a way to reduce any of those costs? If not, use this number as your baseline.
- Consider taxes. In the great state of Texas we don’t have an income tax, but if your state does, you need to be taking this, along with federal taxes into account when figuring what your base hourly pay or salary would need to be.
- How close is the job to your home? Are you sacrificing some sanity for a little longer commute? Maybe you can find a coworker that lives in the area that could carpool. Save sanity and money!
- Do you have any debt to pay off? Can it be consolidated or reduced? Check out our related posts on: Six credit card guardrails to follow and paying down debt.
Before you go looking only for jobs that fulfill you and check every box of the “dream job” checklist, start with the financial piece and work backwards. After posting my resume on Monster.com my company found me within 3 weeks, and I’ve been hooked ever since. Indeed.com is an incredible aggregate of open positions and allows you to search and set up alerts for just about any keywords, salary amount, location, etc. You can even set up alerts for any careers that have “fun” in the job description. I have a hard time hearing people say things like “there’s just nothing out there” or “there’s nothing that interests me” when there are TONS of companies hiring. Be open to part-time opportunities that might allow you to do more than one thing that interests you and regardless of what you find, commit to SOMETHING that pays the bills and keep looking for your passion project while you work.
Regardless of what you choose, choose what’s best for you and your family. Don’t be too proud to find an option that provides a steady source of income but doesn’t provide you a warm feeling of completeness.
- What is your dream job?
How did you find it, and was it what you expected?
Tell us about what motivates you to select that “dream job.”
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