Feeling fed up is what caused me to take my career destiny into my own hands. I was fed up with being underpaid and undervalued. Fed up with being taken advantage of. Fed up with not ever doing exactly what it was that I dreamed of doing.
But I quickly realized I wasn’t upset with any past bosses or co-workers. No former supervisors had tried to take advantage of me.
I had been undervaluing myself all along. I hadn’t had enough confidence to ask for more money, or better projects, or higher pay.
Then and there, I decided I wanted to call the shots. So I started a blog and online business and haven’t looked back since. It’s anything but easy, but I feel like for the first time I am in control. I definitely have days when I ask myself “what the f*** am I doing?!?” But I just keep moving ahead. One step at a time. Knowing that I am working toward my career dream is what keeps me motivated.
Are you in a similar boat, constantly thinking that there must be something better out there or that no job looks appealing? Maybe it’s time you took your career destiny into your own hands!
Read on to learn how to create your dream job in seven steps:
Create Your Dream Job: Step One
Take a pause
If I had one piece of advice for my early twenty-something self, it would be: take time to get to know yourself and learn about what you really want. That, and, wear sunscreen.
Okay, moving on.
Seriously though, how many times have you just applied for jobs without really taking the time to stop and look at the bigger picture? If you’ve been laid off, that really sucks. But even amidst all the suckiness there is a thin silver lining.
You have a chance to do some re-evaluating. An opportunity to take charge of your career.
Are you a mom returning to the workforce or contemplating a career pivot? The same theory applies.
Push the pause button.
Reflect about your strongest interests and strengths. Evaluate your personality traits (good and not so good) and most important work and personal-related values and priorities.
Think about current and / or past jobs and what you loved about them. What made you excited to get out of bed and go to work, or maybe not so excited?
See related: Tips for Finding and Living Your Passion
Create Your Dream Job: Step Two
Let go of your idea of the “perfect job”
I believe many people experience career dissatisfaction because they falsely believe that “dream job” equals “perfect job.”
If someone had told me that in my early forties I would have an online business / career blog, while simultaneously home-schooling my two young kids, I would have probably laughed in their face (or cried).
But as it turns out, I happen to like my current gig. In fact, I would even go so far as to call it my dream job. But it’s not always a “dream.” It is definitely not perfect. Some days it sucks. Some days I want to quit. But overall I like where I’m at.
The reality is that regardless of any career path you choose, there will always be sacrifices . Good days and bad days. Any path worth taking will always involve hard work and sacrifice. The most important thing to do is define what success and failure mean to you. Not to anyone else.
Create Your Dream Job: Step Three
Change your perspective
You’ve got a crappy boss, annoying co-workers, a dead-end job, your dog is ungrateful, kids are too demanding, you’re in over your head in debt.
There’s one common denominator here: you.
Excuses and yeah buts are dream job killers.
Creating your dream job starts and ends with you and you alone.
Create Your Dream Job: Step Four
I’m going to tell you a story about a woman named Sue. Sue is an avid dog-lover and is passionate about all things fashion. Sue has never admitted out loud to anyone that her secret career dream is to own a clothing boutique for dogs and cats.
Professionally, Sue is an accountant. She’s been working in the field for almost 20 years, and is feeling bored and restless. In need of a new challenge.
But Sue is terrified of change. She is scared of failure. Most of all, Sue is scared of making a damn fool of herself.
Sue has several options, including:
- Doing nothing and continuing to be bored and restless in her current job, complaining on a nightly basis to the only receptive ear (her Great Dane, Earl).
- Taking a small but meaningful step toward creating her dream career, like reaching out to friends and family. She could let them know about her love of pet fashion. Maybe a friend has a friend who knows a pet boutique owner she could network with.
- Taking a bigger step and researching local and / or online clothing lines and boutiques for pets to see if there are openings for accountants. Sue could keep her current accounting job while contracting or freelancing for small clothing businesses to build her portfolio and network.
- Making a bolder move and opening her own pet clothing boutique. She could do this low-risk by keeping her accounting job while simultaneously setting up an online business slowly over time. Online businesses can be started quickly and are low-cost and much lower risk compared to traditional businesses.
Although Sue is hypothetical, she is similar to many clients I have coached over the years. Clients who say they want their dream job, but are not actually willing to take any risks or steps to get actually get it. If this sounds familiar, what is stopping you?
See related: Top Networking Tips for Moms Returning to Work
Create Your Dream Job: Step Five
Research your options
If you are considering a new career path, first take time to research and figure out what it will take for you to pursue it. For example, does it require another degree? More importantly, are you willing and able to commit to more education and training?
Even if you don’t need more education or specialized training, maybe there are some new skills you can brush up on to augment your resume and make you more marketable. Browse career information databases like O’Net and the Bureau of Labor’s Occupational Outlook Handbook to learn details about your targeted career path. Project growth, salary, education & training, and related skills and interests are categories you can learn about.
After doing some initial online investigating, do lots of informational interviewing and job shadowing. Informational interviewing, or talking to professionals working in careers of interest is one of the best ways to learn about a career. Job shadowing is also very helpful because you can see first-hand what it’s like to work in a certain environment.
By doing some investigating and not just leaping blindly into a new career path, you will significantly increase your chances of creating a career you love.
Create Your Dream Job: Step Six
After you’ve gathered information, it’s time to get your feet wet! Taking classes in areas of interest allows you to test the waters while also building your resume and portfolio. You Tube has thousand of free classes available for basic-level information and training. Online learning platforms like Udemy, Skillshare, and LinkedIn Learning offer courses and certifications in virtually any subject at a reasonable rate.
In case you haven’t heard the buzz about “returnships,” this is a relatively new phenomenon specifically designed to provide caregivers who have been out the paid workforce the opportunity to become up to date on industry skills and certifications. The non-profit organization Path Forward partners with numerous organizations to provide paid internship or “returnship” opportunities.
Another organization, The Mom Project, partners with companies who are committed to helping working parents achieve better work-life balance. The employers working with The Mom Project are passionate about matching job seekers with opportunities that match their personal and work preferences.
Volunteering in your targeted field is another great way to tell if a career path is right for you, plus you can build your resume and skills at the same time. Volunteermatch.org and catchafire.org are examples of a couple organizations that provide virtual volunteer opportunities.
Create Your Dream Job: Step Seven
Design (or re-design) your dream career
To design your dream career, all you need at first is a vision. It doesn’t have to be a concrete plan. Just an idea of what your career could look like in an ideal world. Dare to dream a little! If you don’t think concretely about your ideal career situation, it will never materialize.
Once you’ve got a vision, it’s time to take it to the next level. It’s all about baby steps! I am going to outline several career scenarios below, as well as corresponding actions you can take to create your dream job:
Create a Portfolio Career
A portfolio career is a career comprised of two or more jobs or career paths. For example, a flight attendant who teaches ESL on the weekends. Or a lawyer who is also an author. If you’re the type of person who is drawn to a more unconventional career path, and / or if you are someone with many passions and interests, a portfolio career might be perfect for you.
To create a portfolio career, you just need to think a little outside the box. Maybe you already have a career you like or even love, but you still feel like something is missing. With a portfolio career, you can have your cake and eat it too! You don’t have to”quit your day job.” You can simply add another job or career path.
Start by talking to friends or professionals who are doing portfolio careers. Ask them questions like how they got started, what it’s like working in several different fields, and if they have any advice for you.
Re-Invent Your Existing Career
If you don’t feel like you need a major career makeover, but you feel stuck or bored in your current job, there are steps you can take to create or re-create your dream career.
Are there any special areas of interest in your organization or field that you can learn more about? What about taking a colleague you admire out for coffee (or having a virtual coffee meeting)? Can you talk to your manager and see if there are any new projects or responsibilities you can undertake. Are there any professional development opportunities you can participate in?
If you like your job but you need more flexibility, for example, ask for it.
I recently worked with a client who was returning to work after maternity leave. She liked her field but wanted to go part-time. Previously, she had worked in fashion merchandising, but was interesting in transitioning into human resources for a change.
She drafted up a proposal to her manager, outlining what she could do for the organization to help with its HR-related goals and strategic vision. Her manager accepted it and she now has her dream job!
Give Yourself a Career Makeover
Sometimes you need a complete career overhaul. Your industry doesn’t excite you anymore (or maybe it never did). You’ve always dreamed of getting your degree in ______ or becoming a ________. But for whatever reason, you never went for it.
Even if you want to change industries, you don’t have to undergo a major transition right away. If you follow the steps outlined in this article and do your research, moving from one industry to a totally new field can be done easily and with great success!
Start by doing your research. If you have always wanted to be a social worker, the first thing you probably want to do is read about the field of social work. What type of education and training does it take to become a social worker? Which personality types, interests, and strengths do social workers have in common, and more importantly, do you share these commonalities? It might also help to know if the field of social work is growing or shrinking.
The more information you arm yourself with, the more likely you will find success and happiness in your new career field once you make the switch.
Creating your dream job will not happen overnight. You might feel unsure, uncomfortable and downright terrified. But with big change comes big growth and opportunity. Designing a career you love takes time, effort, perseverance, and patience.
So, what are you waiting for?