Dream jobs

Dream jobs

I’ve been meaning to talk about dream jobs since I saw this listing for an editor at A Cup of Jo way back in December.

I’ve never had a Dream Job in mind for myself (although I’m certainly keen on the mishmash of work and the writing life that I call my “job” these days). But that editor’s listing has been ringing bells in my head for going on four months now, because of these words about the ideal candidate:

Able to generate all sorts of fresh and compelling ideas—for series and posts in all different categories. BEING A FOUNT OF IDEAS IS KEY.

I have no intention of moving to NYC, and plenty of things on the job’s punch list don’t appeal to me, but I dwell in possibility. I can do ideas–fresh, compelling, maybe even a little crazy–all day long.

It was so obvious once I read the listing: my dream job will involve being an idea machine.

Knowing your dream job criteria is obviously useful if you’re looking for work. But much like personality types, it’s useful to know your strengths (and your weaknesses) even when you’re not. Wouldn’t you rather do the work that makes more of you, not the work that makes you feel like you’re just punching the clock?

In my self-directed gig, I’ve been thinking of ways I can spend more time on ideation (my favorite) and less time on, say, resizing photos (not so much).

Do you have a dream job in mind (or are you currently working your dream job)? What is it, and what about it makes it dreamy for YOU?  

P.S. I wrote a book about personality! In Reading People: How Seeing the World through the Lens of Personality Changes Everything, I walk you through 7 different frameworks, explaining the basics in a way you can actually understand, sharing personal stories about how what I learned made a difference in my life, and showing you how it could make a difference in yours, as well.

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  1. Jared says:

    I’m working toward my dream job of being an orchestral violinist – I left a bank job to go back to school with family. Crazy, yes, but I am more fulfilled than ever. I like how you said “Wouldn’t you rather do the work that makes more of you, not the work that makes you feel like you’re punching the clock?” The bank felt like time-punching; now I feel like I’m alive.

  2. Corrie Anne says:

    I’m pretty sure I do have my dream job right now! I teach and run a private piano studio in Denver. I love interacting with people one-on-one, hearing about kids’ days, encouraging and teaming with parents, and listening to whatever my adult students need to talk about. I enjoy planning recitals and group classes and going the extra mile with decorating and random surprises for my students. I’m from a classical background, but I believe in teaching people the music they love too. They always come around to the classical side eventually since it’s the most fun to play solo!! I have a lot of adults who like to play things like Mumford & Sons, and everyone wants to play Für Elise!! It’s funny, but I never get tired of it.

    Now It definitely helps that I’ve married into health insurance, but I really love the flexibility to take only as many students as I want. We live in a young, fairly affluent neighborhood with almost no other piano teachers so I could probably teach 6 days a week until 8pm. No thanks!! I’m just not hugely motivated to make as much money as possible, perhaps partly due to the fact that I love my job. I will say that when I was single I taught in private/public schools, which I found immensely fulfilling but much more exhausting. Whenever people find out what I do, they inevitably tell me how jealous they are. I suspect that’s probably partly due to the fact that we live in Denver where everyone craves a flexible schedule so they can ski and hike!! The only negatives are that I have to keep my house immaculate, and I don’t love keeping up my spreadsheets!!

  3. Amy says:

    I so wish I knew. My mom loves to tell a story of a vacation to Florida we took when I was in junior high. We visited the beach first, and I knew I’d grow up to a be a marine biologist. Then we went to Cape Canaveral and I wanted to be an astronaut. Then we headed to Universal Studios, and I was sure my career path involved becoming an engineer who designed roller coasters. I may have even entertained the possibility of being a flight attendant on the ride home.
    I’ve always felt like the world was too full of possibility, too wonderful for me to settle on any one thing. Even now, that I have an English degree and a part time job at my local library, I’m not sure what the future holds. I’m in a season of primarily staying at home with my littles, but my oldest starts preschool next fall and I’m starting to see a light at the end of the diapers & naptimes tunnel, and beginning to dream about what I might do with my days once both kids are in school full time.
    Still, I have a dozen ideas: Write full time, take on more hours at the library, go back to school for a master’s degree and get certified to teach, continue staying at home and spend more of my time helping my husband out at church… the list goes on and on. But I love that the future feels wide open, and that all of those are actually realistic things for me to pursue.
    By the way, I’m loving your book! It’s really helping me think through some of these things a little more, and I LOVED the part where you talk about the history of work, and how the industrial revolution and subsequent generations shaped the way we view/pursue work now. Lots to think about!

    • Anne says:

      Amy, I love hearing all the ideas you have for your future! (Of course. 🙂 ) And thanks so much for the kind words about the book.

  4. Grace says:

    This post resonated with me because I wish I knew. Even growing up I never really had a dream job in mind. Just 2 weeks ago I quit my job because I felt like I was losing my mind, and today is my first day of taking time off from working anywhere in order to try and figure out what I’m supposed to do with my life.

    • Grace, I’m in the same boat. But I do know what I want. I took the current job I’m serving my notice at thinking it was something totally different and it has been a nightmare for the last year (crying daily, etc.)

      I do coaching and speaking on the side so I’m going to apply for a more people-centric role (I’m an extrovert and I have a high need for social extension…) and while that’s being created for me…. I’ll be coaching, speaking hopefully and writing my third book.

      And now, I’m popping over to your blog to meet you some more.

  5. Tim says:

    I don’t know about dream job, but the job I have is certainly one that I look forward to going to in the morning!


    P.S. Interesting timing on reading your post today, Anne, since I just posted this morning on the fact that flunking high school algebra didn’t get in the way of a successful career for me.

    • Karlyne says:

      If I remember right (we’re talking about the dawn of time here), I got an A in high school algebra. And it certainly has had about the same meaning in my life as your F has in your life, Tim!. I’m not saying high school is trivial … no, wait, that is what I’m saying! Not always boring and meaningless, but often, and we shouldn’t let it matter much in our real lives. Too often, it becomes something that we have to overcome, an artificial mountain to climb.

      And it often takes up so much time and energy that we don’t have the leisure to think about just what that dream job might be!

      • Tim says:

        The funny part is that I do like numbers, Karlyne. I’ve just never been able to do math beyond the basics. I had to retake algebra in junior college so I could transfer to UCSB. Squeaked through with a C, woo-hoo!

        • Karlyne says:

          I, too, like numbers! I’ve done quite a bit of bookkeeping over the years, which although certainly not a “dream job” for me, was mostly fun and paid well! My complaint about high school math (and other subjects) was that I felt that I could’ve taken the book home and slogged through it in a week or so and taken the test and been done with it- without spending hours and hours sitting in a classroom, yawning and trying to read my book of the moment surreptitiously!

          • I’m the opposite – really good at numbers, just hate working with it for more than, say 2 days a month 🙂 I don’t mind looking and playing around with sales figures and projections but then I’m bored and want to move on.

  6. AshleeAnne says:

    I am so thankful to say that as of last week, I have left a career behind that gave me that “pit of your stomach dread” to focus on my dream job – teaching English Literature. I got a degree in philosophy and promised myself I would always follow a path of fufilling and not a path of money. Oh but then I grew up and realized I had to support myself and my mountain of loans. Fast foward 6 years of soul draining marketing and social media communications careers – and I have been accepted to a graduate program at a University – with the end result being a MAT in English Education. So, last week, I up and quit my last marketing job – and here I am – a full weekend of being out of the soul draining marketing world. Your post resounds with me today because I feel like I’ve finally made it.

  7. Jennifer says:

    When I was in college, I was on track to be certified to teach high school math (sorry, Tim and Karlyne!), but got off track for a couple of reasons. Every few years, I spend some time regretting that decision and I look into going back to finish that certificate, but never get very far. Recently, I have had the opportunity to substitute teach 3rd and 5th graders at my son’s private school. When I leave for the day, I feel tired, but alive and fulfilled, like this is what I really WAS meant to do. So, I have taken steps this time…my resumé is in and I have discussed it with my boss (who, luckily, is also my dad). My plan is to hopefully switch careers in the next couple years.

  8. Rebekah says:

    I love this… instead of being an idea person- I am the person that takes other peoples ideas (dreams, visions) and runs with them. I love being the problem solver- and that feeling when you see a vision come to fruition. I especially love the tension in that moment right before everything comes together and you are not sure if it is all going to fit- but then it does. The most fulfilling instance of this in my life was in college working with a campus ministry. Now I see it play out in my work with a boutique inn

  9. Kim says:

    Since I am currently employed and not looking to leave . . . I would say my ‘dream’ would be to write bible studies and to own a small Christian bookstore. I love being able to share the love of Christ and the power of His Word with people.

  10. Molly says:

    My dream job is one that takes the best of my chosen profession (teaching children) and leave what I like least about it (all the paperwork) behind. In my ideal world I would work as a liaison educator to elementary children and middle school students who are unable to attend traditional classes because of illness or injury. I would work with their teachers to prioritize and coordinate their classes either online or (more likely) tutor them directly so that when they are ready and able to rejoin their peers in school they wouldn’t be terribly behind in skills.

  11. ariana says:

    I’ve had a million thoughts rattling around in my brain the past few weeks regarding this topic. Perhaps the racket began with one of your previous posts on women’s presence in the work force. I am currently a physical therapist working part-time, however am just finishing up my PhD. When I started my doctoral degree, we didn’t have children and had anticipated wanting to teach at the collegiate level. Now, 8 years later, we have 3 kids and are hoping to adopt. In addition, we homeschool for which I am the primary provider and organizer. I would like to find a way to contribute more to our household income, while using my background in physical therapy and my PhD, as well as blend in my love of reading and writing. I just can’t seem to put my finger on a way to do this, all while allowing time for raising kids and homeschooling.

    If you have suggestions on books/blogs/life coaches that might help me gain better insight into my “dream job” or how to blend all of those interests and skills, I would love to hear them!

    • Anne says:

      I wish I had concrete suggestions to give you! I would just say that actually, proactively thinking about it is a giant step in the right diretion…

  12. It’s funny, I don’t really think of myself as an “idea person,” but in my life I have to come up with ideas constantly. My dream job is writing books, which is what I spend a lot of my time doing. I’d like to write both non-fiction and fiction regularly though, so I’ve spent some time over the past 2 years figuring out how to make the fiction part of my dream job happen.

    • I don’t think of myself as an idea person either, but as a blogger, that IS a big part of what I do. And I generally have way more post ideas than time to write those posts, so maybe I am an idea person.

  13. Some combination of writer and philanthropist. I was an editor, and I was darn good at it, but I don’t love it nearly as much as I do writing. If I could do some sort of writing where I could live in my grandparents’ former house (that they built, themselves, like not plans – THEY built it) two or three days a week and write alone, that would be nice. But I do love to be with others and just hear their stories and love them. Maybe my book signings would be potluck dinners, too. Or feasts that I cook for.

  14. MJ says:

    My dream job would be some sort or combination of writer/research librarian. My personality makes me someone who needs to KNOW things, and I love to write about what I do know. I’ve often thought that some sort of technical writing job would suit me very well, but I have no concept about how to get into that field. I think about it a lot though. That’s a start, right?

  15. Getting to this post super late! But I think about my dream job all the time! And that is professional book recommender. I’ve sort of made that possible through my blog, though it’s more of a hobby than a job at this point. I’m working on making it more of a job.

    And, Anne, I’m with you on the resizing photos…or any graphics-related work for that matter! That would definitely be the first thing I’d outsource!

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