Dave’s Top 5 List: My Dream Job

 In Career, Entrepreneurship, Leadership, Personal Development, Professional Development, TOP 5

One of my colleagues recently blogged about the importance of finding one’s dream job.
Got me thinking. What is a dream job?
I have probably come across the term “Dream Job” hundreds, if not thousands, of times but up until now, I have not really sat down to think about what that actually means.
And more importantly, is my job, a dream job?
So, as my first “blog”, I am setting out to do exactly that.

The First Challenge: Defining the Criteria of My “Dream Job”

I have just embarked on a bit of a career change myself recently so I find the concept of a dream job quite timely to explore.
As a career and life coach, I have had it drummed into me and, I have observed, that everyone is unique (including me) but we do have things in common.
So, what floats my boat, “dream job” wise?
To what extent is my definition of a dream job similar to others?
Those are the 2 questions that I am setting out to answer.
I like top 5 lists (must be from having watched too much David Letterman in University) so I will use the compilation of a top 5 list as my approach and methodology.
More specifically, I am going to set out to create a top 5 list of the attributes that make up a “dream job” according to Me, Dave Walker.
Once I have developed my first draft I will share it with others as part of my validation process (I guess I am doing that now).
I can then amend and refine the list as required based on any feedback and discussions before I finalize it.
Moving forward, I will review the list periodically in order to see if anything changes over time, which I suspect, like everything else in life, it will.

My intention is to use my list of attributes as criteria when evaluating any and all job offerings and opportunities that arise as I move forward on my career journey.
The list of attributes will effectively act as my GPS system to keep me on the right path.

The right career path for sure but probably the right path on other fronts as well since many of my career choices seem to affect other areas of my non-professional life as well.
Remember, when I mention the word path, it is MY path. The path that I have chosen because I believe it best supports my objective of leading a more fulfilling life.
My business, or practice, as I refer to it, is all bout helping people lead more fulfilling lives.
So, I am going to go out on a limb here and state that having, and maintaining, a “dream job” would be most helpful in that regards.

At the end of this exercise, if I do find out that I am not in the right job, I guess I will need to come up with a top 5 list on how to right the boat.
But one step at a time.

Before setting out on this journey of discovery, a few questions immediately come to mind.
Is it a dream job or a dream career?
I am reading articles with predictions that people will change their career on average 6 times or more during their lifetime. Does the dream job transition as well? Or is it back to square one each time?
What happens when you start approaching retirement? Do you need to identify your top 5 attributes of a “dream retirement”? Does one even want to retire from a dream job?
Are the attributes of a “dream job” in the career (or professional quadrant) similar to the attributes of leading a “dream” in the other non professional life quadrants? (i.e. friends and family, soul mate, me)
I know, I am confusing and complication the matter.
O.k. time to explore.

My Strategy to develop MY top 5 list

Coincidentally, I have decided to employ a 5 step strategy to develop my top 5 list. The steps are as follows:

Step 1: Develop a hypothesis

My hypothesis is that there is a strong correlation between the dream attributes on both the professional and personal side of the work life balance equation.
In order to test my hypothesis, I will need to not only come up with a top 5 list for My Career quadrant but also a top 5 list for my non professional quadrants as well.
Turns out that my coach recently assigned me the task of developing a top 5 list of the attributes that contribute to leading a fulfilling life.
I am going to use that list as the benchmark for which to compare and contrast my dream job list.
There we go, that should be as clear as mud.
Time to start researching stuff.
Google search. Here I come.

Step 2: Conduct initial research

Some of the results of my initial research (a.k.a. results from the first page of a google search using “attributes of a dream job” as the search phrase) are as follows:

  • As luck would have it, my search uncovered both an existing top 5 list and a top 10 list.
  • There was also an interactive quiz whose results were continuously updating based on new participants. What was intriguing was that it took gender into consideration. I found it Interesting to look at the differences and similarities among the priorities.
  • One article seemed to imply that unless you were an entrepreneur, you most likely were not going to find that dream job and the author then proceeded to share a top 9 list of things to do to make the best of “a less than perfect job”. Good thing I recently decided to become an entrepreneur. I guess better late than never.
  • Another article professed to share “The Secrets for Finding the Job of Your Dreams”. Since they came up on page one of my google search, which was pretty generic, I can only assume that the secret is now out.
  • I also stumbled across an article while reading the latest edition of one of my CPA newsletters. The article was entitled, “Do you have a Job, Career, or Calling?”. I liked the addition of the concept of the “Calling”.
  • And one more data point. I came across an interesting concept on careers and more specifically retirement (a.k.a. the end of one’s career), while reading the “Happiness Equation” by Neil Pasricha.

Step 3: Jot down some highlights and insights from my initial research

Based on my research, which I outlined above, I came up across more than a few ideas and concepts that struck me as particularly intriguing. Here they are, in no particular order;

Among the ideas in the article, “5 Qualities in A Job You Want That Should Push You to Accept the Offer”, was the concept of passion. Without passion in your job, it argued, “you will never be completely happy.”
There also seemed to be an implied link between Passion and Purpose, the “state” of which was referred to as being “Priceless”.
Unfortunately, the article pointed out that “many people don’t believe in workplace happiness anymore and accept this as the norm”.
The research they alluded to concluded that “87 percent of workers worldwide are unhappy” L.
Sounds like a lot of people are settling for less when it comes to work.

By the way, “Unlimited passion in doing your work” was the #1 choice on the “Top 10 Qualities to have in Your Dream Job” list.
While we are on the topic of passion, some recent research by Deloitte aptly named “Passion at work” surveyed both men and women across age groups and found that only 12.3% of the “American workforce” were passionate about their jobs.
The study also pointed out the importance of employee passion not only to the employee, but to the employer as well, the argument being that “passionate workers are committed to continually achieving higher levels of performance”.

Another quality in the top “5 Qualities in A Job You Want” list was “great coworkers”.
Anyone who has had the pleasure of working with a “toxic” colleague would likely agree with that one.
I wonder if toxic bosses are included in that category since a boss specific quality category was not in the top 5. Notice I said boss and not leader.
My thinking is that someone who is truly a leader cannot by definition be toxic but I will leave that one for a future blog on leadership.

And while we are at it, I did not see mention of toxic clients and/or business partners. I wonder where they fit into the equation?

As for some of the other characteristics.
Personal and professional growth and development were right up there in importance.
I was surprised that alignment with one’s values did not come across more prominently.
Money was also mentioned but only on one of the lists.
Recognition was also mentioned. I liked the way one of the authors put it, “work where you are celebrated and not tolerated”.

The recognition one has really been resonating with me these days.
If you ever want to explore the power of recognition, I recommend you read the book by Tom Rath and Donald O. Clifton entitled “How full is your bucket?”.
One of the first chapters shares some research on what happens to people when they do not receive any recognition. Lets just say, it is not good for one’s health.
The authors make a pretty good case for how recognition can have a huge impact on people and not just in the career quadrant (i.e. I am trying to use it more often with my kids).
To that end, I encourage you to recognize others more often. Might not make or break a dream job for someone but would probably go a long way in starting to move them in that direction.

Regarding the differences between genders as highlighted by the interactive survey.
The #1 characteristic identified by the women, “creative freedom” (15.5%) was the #2 for men (14,8%).
The #1 for men, “intellectually challenging” (18.9%) was #3 for women (12.2%).
Where there was a big difference was that the #2 identified by the women, “flexible hours/workplace” (13.28%), did not even make the top 5 list for the men.
It came in at #6 (5.86%). As a man, and single parent, I found that one particularly interesting.
I seem to be coming across more couples where a decision was made that the female in the relationship, and often also a mother, would focus more on their career and that their better half would take on more of the non career related responsibilities.
Not sure if that is just my inner circle or a broader phenomenon and trend which one would expect will increase the importance of “flexible hours/work place” attribute to the men moving forward.
I will have to remember to take a peek at the survey in a year or two to see if there is any movement on that one.

As for the concept of one’s calling.
Jordan Hill introduced the concept in his article as “those with a calling orientation are not only working for the upward mobility but also for the nature of the work itself. They truly enjoy the type of work they do as well as the impact it has. They believe it should be meaningful and personally fulfilling”.
Once again meaning and purpose come across as very important.
And of course, the word “fulfilling” really resonated with me.

And last but not least, the concept of retirement, or maybe more appropriately, the concept of no retirement.
In his book, The Passion Equation, Neil Pasricha points out that retirement is actually a “new concept, a western concept and a broken concept”.

Retirement, or freedom 55 or 65 as many associate the term with, has actually been a huge disappointment for many retirees.
All of a sudden, a lot of retirees have found themselves with no passion, or meaning or calling.
Their network, and the energy that they drew from it, has disappeared almost overnight.
A recent survey by Merrill Lynch/AgeWave of the newly retired identified “a lack of social connections” as the #1 item that retirees “actually miss most about work now”.
“Having purpose” and “Mental Stimulation” were also among the top 5 attributes that were now missing in their lives.

Step 4: Share my thoughts and my initial top 5 list (for what they are worth)

O.K. So, enough with the research and resulting concepts and data points. Time to create my list.
I am still in reflection mode but that has not stopped from sharing my Point of View (POV) in the past, so I won’t let it stop me now.
If you would like to debate me, respond to my blog, I am all ears (I mean eyes and fingers).
I should warn you that my MYERS Briggs, personality preferences, is ENTP or “The Debater”.
ENTP, which I found out recently, is also the classic entrepreneur. That aligns well with me new career direction. Found that one out a little late in the game, but better late, than never.

So, here I go.
Again, in no particular order.

Dave’s Top 5 List: My Dream Job

  1. There is meaning and purpose in what I do.
  2. There is a wealth of opportunities for personal learning and growth.
  3. I am constantly surrounded by people who inspire me and bring out my best (for me that would be my clients, collaborators, peers and colleagues, all of which I refer to collectively as my community).
  4. There is alignment between what I do and my values (a.k.a. MY LIFE Compass)
  5. And last, but not least, is that the activities and interactions that I undertake are fun and bring out my passion and energy which allows me to be, the best that I can be.

Now, how does that compare to my top 5 list of what leading a fulfilling life looks like?
As previously mentioned, I was recently assigned that as homework by my coach.
It is still draft and a work in progress.
I did not look at it while developing my dream job specific top 5 list above (I promise).
Without further ado. Here it is:

  1. There is a meaning and purpose to my life that creates a sense of passion in what I do and pride in what I have accomplished. Day in and day out. No matter whether at work, rest or play. Including Mondays.
  2. There are opportunities for me to continually develop into a better person by exploring and learning what excites me, with those that inspire me.
  3. I make the time to develop rich and rewarding relationships with the people that I care for and who energize me.
  4. I am able to be Self-full to myself. I am in control of my agenda, I am not rushed, I am not stressed. I am my own best friend, my inner coach, critic and cheerleader, my own soul mate (the non-romantic type 🙂 )
  5. That I have FUN in whatever I do and with whoever I do it with.

A few things struck me as I made a quick comparison between the two top 5 lists.

One is that the importance of alignment to my values is not figuring as prominently in my initial pass of my top 5 list of a fulfilling life.
Maybe my values are actually baked into one or more of the top 5? (i.e. they helped inspire and shape the attributes).
By the way, I have actually recently gone through the exercise of compiling a list of my top 5 values encompassing both the professional and non professional sides of my equation.
My list of My top 5 values (at this stage of my life) includes; Inspire, Be Happy, Have Fun, Accomplish and Encourage.
Oh and yes, you guessed it, they are my initial draft list.

The other concept that does not come out as strongly in my dream job top 5 list is the importance of my ability to control my own destiny (i.e. my priorities and agenda at work, rest and play). To me, that one is a show stopper if it is not present.
Again, maybe that is captured in one of the other points. Perhaps under alignment with my values.

Despite the couple of differences highlighted above, I must say that the lists are actually quite similar which does not surprise me, after all, I am me, whether at work, rest or play.

Step 5: Seek input from others and adjust accordingly

So there you go. Not one, not two, but three top 5 lists for you to weigh in on if the urge should strike.
As I firm up my own thoughts about dream jobs and leading a more fulfilling life, I would love to hear from others regarding their take on how they would define their dream job and/or fulfilling life.
Thoughts, ideas, data points and POVs welcome.
As I mentioned earlier, we probably have a few attributes in common.

Next Steps

I hope to be able to share, as a future blog, the next iteration of my top 5 lists and any other attributes that I may uncover as part of this initiative in the hopes that it might inspire others.
To not only inspire others to develop their own lists but more importantly, if they uncover any gaps, to come up with a strategy to close the gaps and then a game plan to remain on the straight and narrow.
Stay tuned.

And thanks for spending the time to read my blog. I realize it is longer than “War and Peace” but I find this topic fascinating.

I hope you found the time of value.



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What would that change be?


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