What Does Your ‘Dream Job’ Look Like? Do You Even Have One?

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If someone were to ask you right now what you considered to be your dream job, would you be able to give a clear picture of what it might be?

A couple of years ago, I told you about the question I hated in annual reviews. In a way, the question was meant to solicit what an employee’s “dream job” might be. But it didn’t really ask it that way. Instead, the supervisor conducting the review would ask, “Where do you see yourself in five years?”

I hated the question for a couple of reasons.

For one, what did that where mean, exactly? Were they assuming you’d want to work someplace else? That didn’t seem to say much for the company, did it?

Another reason I hated it was the presumption that any of us had time to daydream about a dream job. When we get so busy running from tree to tree putting out fires, it can be hard to stop and look at the forest. Sometimes, one’s job can occupy so much time that there’s not enough focus on the career.

But the third reason I hated the question was that it focused on what I thought was a curious thing: a job.

Maybe some of us have something other than a ‘dream job’ in mind

I have worked several jobs over the years. I started off in television — almost 33 years ago — as a part-timer. Originally, I worked with news and production to coordinate graphics and handled tape playback during newscasts. When I graduated from college, I became a full-time reporter. (I hated that but that was the full-time position that opened as I was graduating.)

I then served as a sort of assignment editor before moving to production. There, I did everything from running graphics to directing shows. I started editing commercials for the newscasts and various programs we aired — we call them promos, of course. Before long, I was hired to be my station’s first-ever marketing employee. After 20 years of that, I took on my current role as digital content manager. That’s a fancy way of saying that I oversee the website and social media accounts.

If you would have suggested when I started in TV that I’d end up running the station’s website, I’d have laughed at you. (But back then, there was no website to run, yet.)

I knew at the age of five that I wanted to work in television. The TV bug bit me that early in life thanks to some early glimpses of television production. So I knew what I wanted my career to be. When I was a kid, I wanted to be the next Bob Barker. Clearly, that didn’t happen. But I knew I wanted to work in TV, even if I didn’t know exactly what I wanted to do once inside a TV station.

There were parts of directing a live newscast that I really enjoyed. There were parts of being a marketing producer and overseeing marketing efforts that I really enjoyed. But there are parts of managing digital content that I also really enjoy. If I could go back and start over and pick only one path, I wouldn’t want to.

Maybe it’s not always about the perfect job

I think the notion that everyone has a dream job is a bit of a delusion. I’ve known people with a specific title they’d like to hold in mind. They’re able to point themselves in a direction designed to help themselves reach that title. But having a title you want doesn’t necessarily guarantee happiness.

For many years, I had a dream place. I’ve always liked the city of Charlotte, North Carolina. It looks like a big city to the outsider. But despite the growing number of high rises and the growing traffic headaches, it feels more like a small town mentality. It’s a nice looking city — at least it has been whenever I’ve visited.

Over the years, I’ve applied to jobs in the Queen City. None has worked out for various reasons. While rent and housing prices have jumped out of control in many places, Charlotte seems to have a big problem there.

A lot of people have a dream salary in mind. What they do doesn’t seem to be as important to them as how much they’ll make. I can respect that. How much is “enough?” One study found that on average, workers would need to make $105,000 a year to be truly “happy” when it comes to salary. Well, it seems I’m in no danger of being that level of happy.

I think we’d all like to reach a point at which we could just pay any bill that comes, no matter what happens. That, to me, is living “comfortably.”

Then some prefer the notion of a dream situation. Since the pandemic, for some people, the situation is working from home. The where they work and the what they do takes a back seat to being able to work remotely. I’m a major introvert, so you’d think the idea of not having to work in a room full of people would carry major appeal. It doesn’t for me. I suppose that’s a sign that I enjoy time with my co-workers.

The closest I ever got to a dream situation is living close to work. And for the most part, I’ve been able to live within about five minutes or so from work. I hate being stuck in traffic. So I’ve been fortunate to avoid long commutes.

The five-year question

I’m glad the company I work for long ago abandoned the written questionnaire with its annual reviews. I’m particularly happy that pesky five-year question went away.

Where will you be in five years? Where will I be in five years? Forgive me if I seem a bit pessimistic, but that question seems a bit overly optimistic to me. Some might suggest that we aren’t guaranteed tomorrow. It’s a little forward of us to assume we’re safe to map things out years in advance.

Assuming I am still around in five years — and I certainly hope to be — I hope I’ll still be in TV. Liking what I do now, I assume I’ll still be doing something in the digital realm. Digital, after all, doesn’t seem to be going away. I assume I’ll still be in the same place, working for the same company and the same co-workers — unless they know something I don’t.

One thing I also can guarantee five years from now: I’ll be very happy if that “Where do you see yourself in five years?” foolishness is still off the table during annual reviews.

Did you ever have a dream job? How do you tackle a question like ‘Where do you see yourself in five years?’ Do you have specific goals for that far ahead?

the authorPatrick
Patrick is a Christian with more than 30 years experience in professional writing, producing and marketing. His professional background also includes social media, reporting for broadcast television and the web, directing, videography and photography. He enjoys getting to know people over coffee and spending time with his dog.

1 Comment

  • For our annual review we had to answer “Where do you see yourself in five years?”
    I was only a few years away from retirement after 28 years with the company, and the company that bought the company decided that they didn’t want our plant and told us that they are shutting down the division by the end of the year.*
    So in June when when we had to do out annual reviews and set our goal, they wanted the answer to “Where do you see yourself in five years?” so I wrote “Sitting out on a beach soaking up the sun on Cape Cod.” I sent it off to the international corporate headquarters.
    The next morning I get a call from HR, could you see me please. Where she told that corporate rejected my annual review, we both got a chuckle out of what I wrote but could you pleases write something for them?
    *So we were an engineering firm, we designed one of a kind control systems for industrial plants like waste treatment plants, water treatment plants, trash to energy plants, and power plants. Everything was unique one of a kind design. The company that bought us out were bean counters and never ran an engineer company before made one of kind products and thought they could job shop our work out.
    When engineering made a mistake we fixed for time and material, well the job shops took out their sharpen pencil and said that change with cost you a million dollars!
    Well in a few years the company that bought us was 2 billion dollars in the hole and was in bankruptcy.

    It was my dream job, I started off as a junior engineer and ended up running the test department with 21 techs.

    P.S. A friend now runs the assignment desk at the local TV station, another friend is a producer who won dozens of regional Emmys (Wouldn’t like her problem… oh hum another Emmy.), and a third friend who is a freelance videographer.

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