A few months ago, my immediate supervisor got a new boss. Consequently, I acquired a new big boss as well. To help everyone acclimate to the change better, my big boss asked her newest team members this question: “So, what do you want to be when you grow up?” I was caught off guard by the query.
I’ve always loved animals, so when I was younger, my dream was to be a veterinarian. But then I realized that there were some sad parts of the job that I wouldn’t be able to handle. So instead, I became a hairdresser and eventually owned my salon. But ultimately, I settled on being a writer/editor in New York City. Even though I have the title of writer/editor in New York City, what am I supposed to do next? There has to be more that career-wise I can accomplish (I’m only 25, so there’s no way this is as good as it gets, right??). But seriously, her question made me evaluate how to achieve my dream and what measures need to be taken for me to go for it.
Step 1: What Are You Passionate About Right Now?
It’s essential to feel confident in yourself when pursuing your dream job. You need to think about what you’re passionate about and start with baby steps. Here are some questions that can get you started on the right path:
- On an ideal Saturday afternoon, where would I be and what would I be doing?
- At the end of a long day, what do I look forward to?
- If I could choose any job, regardless of pay, what would I do?
- What three activities make me feel energized?
- When I am on social media, what topics or stories am I seeing?
After you take some time to answer these questions, start making a list of patterns or topics you see often. For example, maybe your perfect Saturday is nothing more than staying in bed and looking at Instagram posts. Furthermore, perhaps you find yourself frequently checking social media accounts whenever you need a mental break from work. The other day, I was talking with some friends about a new Instagram caption idea when one of them said, “I wish thinking up hashtags could be my job.” And you know what I told them? “Well, actually, that job does exist. It’s called social media editor.” That position entails brainstorming hashtags along with plenty of other digital duties.
[Learn: 3 Steps to Finding Your Purpose]
But to get back on track, if you have a list of 5-10 things you’re passionate about, do some research on them. Google them and see what kind of blogs, companies, or people come up with. It’s key to remember that you don’t want your search terms to be too specific. You want to increase the chances of you landing your dream job, so don’t limit yourself. For example, I love baking on the weekends and licking the spoon afterward. So, I included “eating raw cookie dough” on my list because why not? It’s something that makes me happy. Upon searching “eating raw cookie dough,” I found this amazing blog called Munchies, which is a part of Vice.com. Who would’ve known that such a website existed?! Be sure to jot down any useful information you come across as you explore, and take some time afterward to think it over.
Step 2: Take a Step Back and Think About Your Work Habits Up to This Point
Not only should a dream job be about your passions, but it should also fit in with the company culture and working styles. To help you better understand this concept, ask yourself the following questions regarding work style:
- What kind of work don’t I want to do?
- What did I like/not like about my past jobs?
- What are my talents?
- What do I want to learn?
- What environments have helped me thrive the most?
When you have answers to these questions, schedule some time with a colleague or mentor that you trust. Talking with them might help improve your understanding of yourself and how you work. Then, to gain an accurate understanding of what working style would be best for you, compare your notes and answers with their notes.
For example, think about what meetings keep you engaged the most. Do you need a weekly brainstorming session to keep your ideas fresh and inspired? Some people attend several meetings a day, while others prefer email communication so they can have more working time to themselves. This difference may seem small, but it plays a major role in what kind of environment you seek out for the future.
Step 3: Try to See Yourself in the Future
It’s time to imagine your dream job in great detail. Do you envision yourself confined to a small office space for the majority of each day, or would you rather be active and always meet new people? It’s the small things that can make a big difference in your day-to-day happiness, even if you’re doing something you love. For example, do you prefer working from home or being around coworkers? Having a flexible schedule might not seem like a huge deal, but it can affect how satisfied you are with your work life.
[Related: How I (Kind of) Figured Out My 20s ]
To plan your ideal day, start by labeling a piece of paper with the hours from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Then, begin writing down what you would do during each hour of the day. If you’re interested in a job, this will help you determine if it’s the right fit. Perhaps you want to start even earlier than 9 so you can leave in time for an evening workout class. Or maybe you find that your productivity increases if have working time in the morning and then your creative juices flow better in the afternoon.
Step 4: Never Give Up on Your Dreams
The last step is to make a timeline for your job search that you’re comfortable with- whether that be 3 months or 3 years. Now that you have a list of dream companies and people, it’s time to set up some informational interviews. Your goal should be to do three within the next month. Networking is how most people get jobs these days, so this could turn out to be the most important step in your job search process.
But, forming new connections is futile if you forget about them soon after your meeting. So, set a calendar alert to check in with your new contacts every two months. You don’t always have to meet up again for coffee– perhaps send an article of interest or say congratulations if something noteworthy has happened in their life recently. The goal is to keep yourself at the forefront of their mind when an ideal job becomes available.
Keep in mind, this is about finding your dream job–it might take a little more time than you initially thought, but don’t get frustrated. As long as you’re taking steps each month toward your goal (Levo’s Build Your All-Star Network guide and Tell Your Story guide can give you some extra help), you’re going in the right direction.