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Just What is a ‘Dream Job’ to You?

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We’ve all heard the saying, “do what you love and you’ll never work a day in your life.” There is certainly a lot to be said for working a job that you truly enjoy: lower levels of stress, a feeling of fulfillment and a reason to be excited as one gets out of bed in the morning only scratch the surface of the benefits of loving your job. What does a dream job look like, and how do you get one?

It’s probably best to ask an expert, and take a look at the life of someone living their own dream.

A recent article in The Week magazine takes a look at the life of Daniel Vaughn, the nation’s first and only full-time barbeque editor according to Texas Monthly. There have long been food critics and there have likely longer been aficionados of meats smoked to perfection. Vaughn represents the first individual in the country able to pull off the task of eating and writing about his favorite (and very niche type of) food as a sole vocation.

His passion for barbecue was one found later in life, and that started casually before it became a calling. Prior to becoming a barbecue editor, Vaughn enjoyed a respected position as an associate at an architecture firm and had a wife and children at home. His life was full and comfortable, but when he stumbled across a passion for “‘cue” he couldn’t resist pursuing it further.

Vaughn turned his casual writing endeavor into a full time gig. He left his architecture job with the support of his family and now does something he loves, and that many others only dream of doing.

Looking For That Dream Job? Do What You Love With Passion

One of the most interesting points Vaughn makes in his interview is that just because it is a “dream job” does not mean it’s perfect. He cites the fact that he has to cover so much ground driving across Texas as a barrier from spending more time with family. He mentions daily deadlines that lead to late hours and general concerns about his long term health, given his work related diet of salted and fatty meats. He gets into how he copes with these adversities, and explains that in the end they are worth the extra effort.

So if the job itself isn’t perfect, and it doesn’t make life perfect…just what is a dream job? Is it pursuing a passion and working in a field that holds special meaning to you? Is it doing work that is unconventional and nontraditional? Is it the thing that lets you travel often? The one that allows you time with family, and a great work-life balance? Is it all of these things, or none of them? The answer to what makes the “world’s greatest job” is almost certainly different from person to person.

While there are universal needs that all humans share, we are individuals and our personal preferences vary greatly. For some of us, regular hours are a necessity while others enjoy adapting to the demands of a given circumstance. Some need family and/or personal time every day, while others can work for long stretches and then balance that with a similarly intense dose of personal life. Being in touch with these needs, and honest about them with ourselves and those that depend on us, and those who we want to spend time with, is a key part of not only finding our ideal position, but maintaining happiness in our lives.

There is a difference between compromising and forcing in a given issue. When we compromise we make a tradeoff and accept one reality as an acceptable alternative to another. When we force things we don’t consider the tradeoffs, and this has a nasty way of catching up to us in time. You may find yourself “waking up” from a dream job if you rushed into it without considering your other needs first.

The article about Vaughn teaches us two things about “dream jobs.” First is that finding one goes hand in hand with finding something that excites you and pursuing that. It may be exotic or more routine, but the key is what it means to you. The second is that the career related to this passion needs to fit your lifestyle and preferences. After comparing the demands of the job to your personal needs for time, space and comfort; the two need to stack up. Making sacrifices is fine (and often necessary) but we shouldn’t expect a dream job to necessarily make life easier. The dream is about fulfillment.

What would you consider a dream job? How far would you be willing to go to get it? What are the other parts of life that you would need to keep an eye on as you fit the pieces together?

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