I grew up being told that I should pursue a “dream job.” Don’t stop, I was told, until you find a workplace you can’t wait to arrive at each morning. Don’t settle. Find a job that stimulates, fulfills, and enriches your life. One that makes you want to hop out of bed and run to the office each morning. This ideal was painted in contrast to a created evil: taking the best job you could get, punching the clock, and biding time. Laboring for years without much reward or satisfaction.
Now, however, I think the paradigm is a bunch of hooey.
The best job, in my opinion, is the one that adds the most value to life. But the Dream Job paradigm fails when it ignores how a job affects the rest of a person’s life.
My mom worked 34 years at a regional drugstore chain until the company folded earlier this year. The work didn’t have her skipping through the store doors with an eager, bursting heart each morning, but it was still her dream job. It allowed her to coach and manage her children’s sports teams, to volunteer in our classrooms, to take extended vacations each summer. It wasn’t mentally challenging, but it left her mentally fresh enough to give our family her attention.
I know plenty of people who stick out jobs they hate, and are miserable because of it. But I know a greater number of people who agonize over achieving a Dream Job and are missing out on life in the process.
Loving your life is a better goal than loving your job. I’ll take a job I tolerate with a life I love over the converse any day.