As we head towards the end of 2012, lots of us take time to reflect on the year that’s past and look forward to what the coming year has in store. It’s a time of evaluating and re-evaluating, of setting a course for the future, and focusing on dreams and goals. For many people, it’s also a time of re-adjustment – to look at where you are in life and where you want to go.
Let’s say you want to make a change in your work situation. Many people do. Perhaps you’re looking for that dream job that’s going to be perfect in every way – your boss will be amazing to work for and all of your colleagues will be bright and motivated, the work itself will be interesting and fun every single day, the hours and the commute will be totally convenient and hassle-free, and the coffee will be delicious. Doesn’t that sound amazing?
Too bad it doesn’t exist.
In the not so distant past, work pretty much went like so: You left high school (or dropped out), and if you did graduate you maybe went to college or university, if you could afford to do so. Ultimately, you got a job, and you stayed in that job for 20 or 30 years or more. Day in and day out, you went to work, came home, took your 1 week of paid vacation per year and had weekends off. You retired, collected your pension and that was that. Jobs didn’t have to be “perfect” – they just had to serve the purpose of putting a roof over your head and food in your kids’ mouths. If you actually liked your job, that was a bonus.
These days, people are a lot more picky. We strive to have careers in our chosen profession and be fulfilled in the work we do. Myself and many of my peers are fortunate to be able to work in the careers we’ve chosen, and have that fulfilling experience. But many of us are doing something that our parents and grandparents would have never done. We’re not seeking our “dream job”. We’re doing much more.
I attended a talk recently with actor Patrick McKenna. You’ll likely know him from a few places – if you’re Canadian, you’ll remember he played Marty on the show “Traders” back in the 90s, and that he’s a regular on the Rick Mercer Report. If you’re from somewhere else, and you know the Red Green Show, Patrick played Red’s quirky nephew Harold. He also is a voice actor in several animated series, and has been in dozens of other movies and TV shows. In his late forties, he was diagnosed with ADD/ADHD, and along with presenting the critically acclaimed documentary “ADD and Loving It”, and speaks regularly on the topic to audiences just about everywhere. Oh, and he is also hosting a little charity event I’m working on too.
All that to say, that during his talk, Patrick gave some very sage advice about finding your life’s passion, then working in that. As you can see from the description above, Patrick is nothing if not diverse in his career. He’s a film, TV and voice actor, a writer, a host, a stand up comedian, a documentary producer a public speaker and an educator. He doesn’t have a dream job. He has dream jobs. And that was the essence of what he said in his talk. Finding that one job that’s going to be all the things that will make you happy is incredibly difficult, if not nearly impossible. In this day and age, it’s okay to seek your life’s work from many sources.
My Twitter profile says “Co-Founder of Jester Creative, educator, blogger, singer, podcaster, social media nerd and pet mom.” I make money doing all of these things (except being a pet mom – that’s more of a way to spend money). My partner and I started our business in 2003. While we were just starting out, doing small contracts to build our portfolio, we both worked other full time jobs. In 2007 we were able to give up our jobs and dive into the business full throttle. But for me, it still wasn’t quite enough on the income scale to be comfortable. So I popped over to Algonquin College to see if they needed any teachers. I ended up taking on 6 hours of teaching per week, which made up the income difference (and was also a pile of fun). I started promoting myself as a public speaker and eventually started making some extra income doing that too. I wrote an e-Book and published that for sale, and that became a bit of a source of income too. All the while, I was building web sites, social media strategies, making videos, and doing corporate training for my company.
I don’t have one dream job. I have about 4 dream jobs. And I love each one of them for different reasons. They aren’t all perfect, all the time. But they each have aspects that are awesome. And the sum total of all of my jobs makes a career that I wouldn’t trade for the world.
Let’s face it. Secure, stable, full time, day in and day out dream jobs are becoming ever scarcer. So what if you start 2013 with the attitude that maybe you’ll start looking for a few different dream jobs? Go down to your local college or corporate training centre and see what opportunities may exist for part time, either in-class or online teaching. You may have to talk to a few different departments, but trust me, the jobs are there. Consider how you might find some other part time online employment, as a writer, or managing an online community. Go and talk to some businesses and offer your services on a part time basis. You could find 4 jobs that each take about 10 hours per week, and you’ve suddenly got yourself full time employment that is interesting and ever-changing.
Be willing to accept that you may not ever find your dream job. But be open to the possibility that your dream jobs might be just around the corner.