Sometimes, you’ll get your dream job and think you’ve achieved your final goal. Then you’ll sit back, relax, and enjoy what you achieved and believe that now is the time for you to finally do what you always wanted.
Then 2 years pass and you’re suddenly restless for a change. What happened?
Career Planning Advice: The dream job was a pit-stop. It wasn’t your destination
I thought I got my dream job when I went to work at KPMG. I always wanted to be a consultant and for me, it was my next step before having my own consulting firm. I had so much to learn before owning my own business:
- How to win and manage a large gig (3+ months and thousands of dollars)
- How to work with Fortune 500 clients
- How to manage a large team (50+) of highly qualified professionals
I was living in New York and San Francisco. I felt like Eloise of the Plaza – living in hotels with an expense account. It was exciting! Until suddenly it wasn’t.
I stopped thinking about my next step and refused to consider other opportunities.
I was thinking about doing great at my current job but stopped dreaming about where else I could go and what else I could be doing. I heard that I could be a partner in 5 years and decided that was my next goal – become a partner before starting my own company. I placed all of my bets on a single path to reach my vision – maneuvering myself in the KPMG system to achieve a promotion. That perspective caused a number of problems in my life – including being laid off and unemployed for 3 years.
What should I have done differently?
Career Planning Advice: Keep walking
Accept that exploring opportunities is part of the journey
Opportunities will always emerge in your life with the purpose of helping you determine what exactly is that next step. Not all opportunities are meant for you to pursue; some are a great fit for a next step, but some aren’t.
Think of job opportunities like shirts in a store – you try them on for size and see which suits your style. Some will look horrible on you. Some will fit well, but not represent you. Job opportunities and the activities associated with them – interviews, research and networking – help you explore who you are. You find out what you like, what you don’t like, and adjust your journey accordingly.
Don’t commit to any opportunity until everything is signed, discussed and resolved
Even if you think you found your dream job – don’t commit until you feel comfortable about everything in the agreements and you sign the dotted line. Dream jobs, if not negotiated well, can be huge mistakes in disguise. There may be issues with management, the team, how the company operates. The culture and team may have sounded fantastic during the interview process, but the negotiation process may have been a nightmare. Or something comes up that you don’t like, such as no flexibility to work from home or set your own hours.
Make sure that you have all the facts before you take that next step, and you have all the paperwork resolved. A seemingly small nit about intellectual property could mean the difference between showing up to the new office, or your current job, next Monday.
Be grateful for the opportunities that you do have
Remember: not all of us have opportunities to consider. Even a horrible opportunity has a silver lining – it is a way for you to learn about what you like and what you don’t like about a job, work environment, and more. You get to take a step on your journey and make some decisions. No opportunity is a waste. They are all learning experiences.
Be mindful of what you bring to an opportunity
What value are you offering the opportunity? What are you bringing to the table? How will that company benefit from what you offer?
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Sometimes we falsely believe an opportunity is a done deal because we had a few great conversations. We get lazy and don’t think about what we are bringing to the table. We see the opportunity as giving us something; but all jobs are mutually beneficial. What are you giving and getting?
Remember, your career is a journey and your dream job is one step, a pit-stop, to get you to yet another dream job, and another…. There is no final destination. As soon as you get the job, start reflecting on what’s next. It may sound ungrateful, but it’s not. You don’t have to determine where you go next right away, but be open to possibilities and opportunities. Let yourself be led on a journey to achieve your full potential.
Take charge of your career development to get the job that supports your work and your life. Check out the tools and resources in the InPower Coaching Career Center.