More than half of Americans don’t like their jobs. Only 49% say they’re “very satisfied” with their current position, according to the Pew Research Center. Thirty percent note that they’re holding down “just a job to get them by.”
Rounding out the survey, “Three in ten are somewhat satisfied, and the remainder says they are somewhat dissatisfied (9%) or very dissatisfied (6%),” the research center reports.
The survey also studied what Americans felt their jobs said about them and their identities. Fifty-one percent reported gaining a sense of identity from their careers, while about 47% said their jobs didn’t have a strong bearing on how they saw themselves.
So, some workers are happier with their professions because they feel their working lives connect to their identity. According to a survey from Gartner, the so-called “Great Resignation” – which spurred more than 4.5 million people to quit their jobs in November 2021 – was driven by employees’ desire to find more purpose- and values-driven employment.
“People have developed a new sense of awareness and worth for themselves and the world around them. This is prompting them to demand more personal value and purpose from both life and work,” Jackie Wiles, a Gartner contributor, explains.
So, it seems many employees are seeking out positions that give them a greater sense of identity. In other words, they want to pursue dream jobs that let them live out their individual sense of purpose in the workplace.
For some, this sense of purpose may be clear. But what if you’re not sure what your dream job is? Here, we’ll offer our best advice about how to make sure you’re identifying a job that will motivate and inspire you.
The more often you use your strengths, the more likely you are to be satisfied with your profession, argues Donald Clifton, the founder of Gallup’s CliftonStrengths. After taking a robust assessment, the tool will identify which five strengths matter most to you. The assessment asks you to consider both what you’re good at and what energizes you – this combination is a strength. In other words, you might be great at something that wears you out, but you wouldn’t want to do something tiring day in and day out.
2. Focus on your flow state.
One of the key ways we find happiness is when we try to find our “flow” state more often.
A “flow state” is characterized like this:
“In order for a flow state to occur, you must see the activity as voluntary, enjoyable (intrinsically motivating), and it must require skill and be challenging (but not too challenging) with clear goals towards success,” explains Pursuit of Happiness.
The more often we achieve a flow state, the more likely we are to feel happy or at least satisfied in our lives.
So, it’s a smart activity to start identifying when you enter this flow state. Consider your entire day, not just your work, to figure out what gets you into this headspace. Then, you can use this information to find work that lets you get into this mentality more often.
3. Focus on your “Big Hairy Audacious Goals.”
We often hear the term “Big Hairy Audacious Goals” (BHAG for short) when thinking about organizational strategic goals, but you can use this term for your career planning, as well.
Consider journaling about what you want most in your career. If you were looking back at your career after retirement, what are the two or three things you would most like to accomplish? Are you on the road to achieving those goals? If not, what kind of career pivot would you need to make to steer yourself toward what you want?
4. Research the types of fields and careers that seem most interesting to you.
After you have collected all of these assessments about your strengths, personality, motivators, and goals, you can start researching careers that would suit you best.
After finding a few positions that interest you, you could start reading about these roles and learn about their practicalities. Would you need additional training to be competitive in the field? How flexible are those positions, and how much do they pay? What kinds of advancement opportunities are available?
Once that’s completed, the best way to determine if a new field is right for you is to talk to someone who holds the job you would want. Aim to schedule an informational interview (or even an email exchange) with someone who has the job you want. If all goes well, you might even be able to job-shadow them. As you might already know through your current position, it’s hard to know what a job or a field is like simply by reading about it.
Identifying Your Dream Job
Some people may have had a dream job that they’ve wanted since childhood. For others, this level of certainty may not be possible. Or, perhaps your lifelong dream job is impossible – becoming an astronaut may be out of reach, for instance – then you may be on a quest for a role that fits you better. If you’re not happy in your current position, use these tips to figure out what might suit you better.
What's your no. 1 piece of advice for those seeking out their dream job? Share your answer in the comments to help other Fairygodboss members!