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A dream job deferred

Dream jobs are rare; dead-end jobs aren’t. What can you do when you feel like your career is stalled?

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From the pages of In Business magazine.

During those rare moments when we’re honest with ourselves, we realize we aren’t working our dream job. Many of us never will.

We call them “dream jobs” precisely because there’s usually a pie-in-the-sky, if-a-million-factors-fell-into-place-just-so quality to them that make them something worth dreaming about even if they’re far out of the realm of possibility.

My dream job? I’d love to write fiction — short stories and novels — for a living. More than once I’ve heard, “Well, if you want to make it happen, you just need to do it.”

I do like the sound of that. It makes it sound like my career or life success is completely within my grasp if only I reach for and grab it.

It also ignores reality.

As much as I write, as good as it may (or may not) be, neither I nor anyone else can will someone to buy it and keep buying it. That way, I could maintain a regular, dependable income stream from writing, one that lets me afford groceries, a car, a house, some nice things for my family and, oh yeah, affordable health insurance would be nice, too.

So, I know my dream job is just a dream, for now. Luckily I do still get to write for a living. I’ve gotten to write about some interesting people and topics. I even got to cover a murder trial early in my career, the Holy Grail for some journalists. There have been times in my career when I’ve felt stagnant though.

For young professionals, it’s often easier to advance our career by switching jobs rather than growing within one organization. I doubt I’m the only one who’s ever left a job because there was someone literally standing in my way for advancement. When the people above you on the totem pole aren’t going anywhere any time soon, there’s often little you can do to force your way up the ladder.


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