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Throughout our career, we are constantly searching for our “dream job.” That one perfect position that will make us gloriously happy and eager to show up to work every day, make a difference in the world, and earn well over six-figures doing it. The elusive golden ticket of our career.

It never fails that once we find that “dream job,” drama ensues.

Like a popped balloon, the disappointment of your dream being not as perfect as you thought it would be, is deflating. But alas, it’s not time to start dreaming up another job – you can save the one you’re already in.

Get to the root of it.

Figure out what went wrong and immediately prevent it from happening again. Usually our vision is shattered by an event, an action, a word, a new project – something. Evaluate what cause your dream to turn into a mini-nightmare.

For example, I thought I was in my dream job when I ended up having to cut out circles on my office floor. That was the catalyst of drama for me – feeling like I was missing out on adding value and interacting with interesting coworkers.

What happened to change your perspective about the situation?

Get back to reality.

Your job probably wasn’t that dreamy to begin with – not in reality. So go back to the job description, go back to what attracted you to the position in the first place, and start figuring out what got you excited in the first place.

Then add more of that back into your daily routine. If you loved being able to deliver training or having calls with clients, figure out a way to add an hour more of that each week – then slowly progress until your time is more heavily weighted doing the things you enjoy.

Confront the situation head-on.

If a person (ahem, your boss), influenced your current state of mind, you have to address it with him/her directly. There’s no getting out of this step – you won’t be able to move past the drama until it’s confronted. Be professional about it and ask for some time on the offender’s schedule. Go to a secluded place – your cubicle isn’t appropriate; in a non-emotional manner, discuss what occurred and see what his/her perspective is.

Listen to what’s being said, and move forward.

Get the lesson.

A former colleague told me that we keep repeating drama, when we don’t get the lesson when it’s presented to us. It took me three, yes THREE, “dream jobs” to realize that the “dream” I created in my mind was sabotaging my success in each job.

The lesson may be different for you, but before you make any drastic changes, make sure you figure out what that lesson is. Realizing your expectations were unrealistic, your hope that your manager will stop micro-managing you because you’re competent, or knowing that you’re notreally all that into the cause that your employer focuses on are all possibilities.

Look in the mirror.

Yikes, I know – it’s so much easier to think that our “dream job” really is a dream. But there’s a reason we use such fluffy words… our ideal roles aren’t necessarily based in reality. I know I just knocked the wind out of your sails, but it’s a good thing. After this reassessment, you will be happier in many jobs – not just the one you*think* you have to be in.

We go after our dream job to fulfill a fantasy such as time, money, impact, or power. Many entrepreneurs choose their own businesses as their dream job, but give it up within a year. I know – I was one of them. The reality of owning your own business is a lot more tedious than being able to work from a beach for just four hours a day.

In the corporate world, being a director or vice president sounded dreamy to me. But when I was in those roles, the annoying meetings and political games were more frustrating than I could have imagined – leaving a dark shadow over the rest of the job.

Know what you enjoy doing, what you excel at, and what your non-negotiables are. From there, you can create your “dream job” by honoring those three things.


This post first appeared on LifeAfterCollege.org.