how to find your dream job (5 steps)

Take this post with a grain of salt; I’m not working at my dream job yet.  But I do have a good idea of what is and how I can get there.  For me, it wasn’t obvious until it was completely obvious.  Below are 5 concrete steps I hope help you lay the path toward your dream job.

Google “how to find dream job.”  You’ll find advice from Oprah, Forbes and everyone else with Internet.  You deserve better than their silly formulas.  For you, I’ve distilled my Google research, filtered stinking cliches, and spiced it up with personal blend of observations.

1) Spend some time getting to know thyself.

You may have met yourself before, but do you really know that person?  Grab a journal, say hello.  If I’m talking to a bunch of bloggers, I’m probably already preaching.  So be it.  Journaling–or the modern online equivalent–is terrific for listening to your inner voice.  I say journaling because I’m a dude and I drink beer.  If your favorite color is pink, you write in a diary, but the process is the same.

Journaling is different for everyone.  Reducing thoughts to paper or screen helps me clarify them.  By squeezing the substance of those firing synapses into defined words, the thought cakes get more time in the oven.  Half-baked goods are good for nothing.  Others contend journaling help you memorialize important lessons, grasp feelings, recognize patterns of thinking, and identify goals.  It won’t happen all in one sitting.  Give it time.  Just write.  And write some more.  Re-read old entries, reflect, rinse, and repeat.

Any medium works.  Quality judgments aside, words flow vehemently when my fingers tap keys.  Some prefer the friction of a pen scratching paper.  But words aren’t mandatory.  Journal with doodles and brush strokes; pinning and posting.  The crucial part is storing all entries in one place.  So open a blank document, label it “me,” and go crazy.  It just may keep you sane.

2) Close your eyes and visualize.

Ever imagined your future self doing something you’ve dreamt of doing?  If simply visualizing it makes you wanna shout “F@%K YEAH” with several exclamation points, that, my friend, is a dream job.  Or an insane delusion.  Same difference.

These visions are powerful motivators.  Imagine yourself thanking various supporters for their love and belief.  And imagine the metaphoric face-punch to all your doubters when you make your dream a reality.  Spite is a powerful motivator, so go on, shove it in their stupid faces.

3) Start with the vision and work backwards.

Reverse-engineer the vision.  Find people with that dream job and trace their path.  Multiple roads may lead to the same destination, so find multiple people in that position.  Read their wikipedia pages.  Email them.  And if you must, take it to the brink of stalking, then, roll it back a bit.

If your dream job doesn’t exist, compartmentalize the job.  Find parts of that job that are like parts of other jobs.  Reverse-engineer, put it all together, and make that dream exist.

4) Give it a physical form.

Get going and make it real.  Guy Kawasaki on avoiding the “analysis paralysis”:

Don’t type, prototype. There are two kinds of entrepreneurs…One kind thinks that Microsoft Office is the killer app for entrepreneurs. You write your business plan, you create forecasting spreadsheets, you build PowerPoint presentations for clients and investors, etc. The other kind uses AutoCAD to design the product, a compiler to write the code, etc. — whatever it takes to start actually making the product.

Don’t worry, be crappy. Voltaire once said, ‘The best is the enemy of the good.’ If companies waited to completely perfect a product before releasing it, they would never get anything out. It’s OK if your 1.0 release is a little rough around the edges, so long as it still creates value for customers. Of course, he says, ‘This doesn’t apply if you’re developing medical equipment.'”

I’ll qualify this further: if you wanna be a writer, don’t prototype, type.  For feedback and accountability, tell others about your dream job.  Don’t get stuck though, in the talking phase.

Say you dream of being a speech writer or a published author.  Step one is to shut up and write.  The more you do it, the better you get.  Hone your skills, develop your portfolio.  Give yourself something to point to and say: see what I’ve already done; now imagine how much more I can do when you pay me to do it.

Whatever the dream, just put something out there.  Find any way to START.  Don’t worry about perfect.  Offer services on craigslist, sell goods on etsy, put it all on a blog.  It helps make something distant feel closer.  It leads to encouragement, criticism, and refinement, while building credibility and expertise.  And if you’re willing to do it for free, odds are it’s a dream job.

5) Get engaged.

I’m not talking about dropping to one knee.  I’m talking about fully engaging with the environment around you.  See what’s really out there and network your ass off.  Forget handing out business cards.  Be genuine and make impressions.

Say you dream of making a living on the ocean- far, far away from any desk or office.  Well then, get your ass on the water.  Join virtual and real communities.  Connect with people on forums.  Join clubs and sign up for races.  You can’t predict the opportunities that arise from surrounding yourself with people who share your interests.  If they’re criminals, jail’s the ultimate opportunity, so beware.

Best of Luck,

Ben

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