The Elusive Dream Job of My Generation

January 13, 2016
Dream job

As an employee of an advertising agency, I consider myself fortunate to be able to work in a creative environment. Of course, my role isn’t all about creativity – like any job, mine has its fair share of repetitive tasks. But lucky for me, I am also part of tasks that engage the side of me that was born to think outside the box – or even find ways of getting creative while inside the box.

I come from the generation of workers who were told – by parents, teachers, career guidance counsellors, and Steve Jobs – that to achieve success professionally you must “follow your dreams and passions.” While this is a beautiful sentiment with good intentions, it fails to take an important disclaimer into consideration:

We can’t all have a dream job.

While I have found a career in a creative environment, I also recognize that there is a whole generation of creative people out there who might feel that they’ve accepted a job that isn’t exactly aligned to their passions – and this might seem like a failure of sorts, or a disappointment.

At the same time, I know that I never would have arrived where I am now professionally without having believed wholeheartedly in my generation’s mantra. Pursuing my dreams for me meant that I completed a creative education that I felt passionate about, rather than, say, a technical certification that would pay the bills, but which wasn’t something I felt I could use to “change the world.”

What the “follow your dreams and passions” mantra failed to communicate to me, and which I eventually learned on my own, was that I don’t necessarily need to put all my passion eggs into one big professional basket. Our careers are just one part of our lives – sure, they are a big part, but in my spare time in the evenings, on weekends, and even early mornings, I am free to pursue my own creative interests.

While I still believe in following my passions – and I’m glad that I did – I’ve rounded out the passion I bring to my career to make room for practicality. I believe it’s important to consider that sometimes finding a dream job means finding a career that enables us to follow our passions outside of work. Each of us can find a job that pays the bills and still be a stage actor, a writer, a painter, a fashion designer, an athlete, a musician, a philosopher, a comedian or whatever your heart desires – in our spare time.

Make your career aspirations about finding a space where you’re treated like a human, where you like what you do (you don’t have to love it!), and where you still have energy and time at the end of the day to work towards changing the world…

…because I still plan to.

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  • Reply brenda dineen January 14, 2016 at 9:33 am

    anyone needing inspiration should read this.

    • Reply mdineen January 14, 2016 at 9:37 am

      Thank you for the feedback 🙂

  • Reply Jess Dineen January 15, 2016 at 4:47 pm

    Nicely put Mike…from one creative to another 🙂

    • Reply mdineen January 15, 2016 at 4:48 pm

      Thanks, Jess!

  • Reply Chris Williamson December 18, 2016 at 4:29 am

    Mike I’m really enjoying these posts of yours. This one reminds me of a great book you might consider checking out sometime. It’s called So Good They Can’t Ignore You by Cal Newport, and its main thesis is that this idea that you need to have a job that reflects your passion isn’t all it’s cracked up to be; rather a fulfilling job is one that has certain traits like autonomy, respect of your peers, enough $ so you can do things outside of work you like to do, etc. It’s a highly practical book that really challenged the idea I had about what might make me happy. It also took some of the pressure off to find my dream job and to instead focus on building something worthwhile using where I’m at now as a jumping-off point. The author, a young guy, is doing all this research and writing about how to build work and a life you love.You’re obviously a practical and thoughtful guy, and so is this book.

    • Reply Mike December 18, 2016 at 8:57 am

      Thanks, Chris, just checked out the book online and it looks right up my alley. Love the idea of building something worthwhile from where I currently am. Much appreciated!

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