The Dream Career Conundrum

The Dream Career Conundrum

Every week I receive multiple calls as a career coach from people wanting to find their “dream career” or “what they are meant to do for the rest of their life.”  While some people do have a career calling, most people actually have several potential careers that would give them great satisfaction, provide decent income, help them feel like they make a difference in the world, but aren’t necessarily a “dream career.”

The dream career, in my opinion, is a myth perpetrated by the media and Hollywood as an ideal fantasy.  That fantasy shows that every day of your career life should consist of love, puppies, kittens, roses and constantly happy and at peace.  The reality is that you can have an incredible career that you do love and still have bad days, stressful times, dread an occasional Monday, work overtime, and struggle.  These “issues” are part of real life and of work.  From people selling “manifesting your potential” to that “ideal career,” the whole fantasy is that every minute of your day can be happy, you can have as much vacation as you want, your pay will be outstanding, everybody has a calling, and that you can do your passion for a living.

I have a passion for collecting angels, but that doesn’t mean I can turn it into a career.  My father had a calling to be a police officer, but he didn’t even realize it until he became one and saw the difference he could make in others’ lives.  Sometimes happenstance intervenes and that was the case with my career.  Sometimes a career coach leads you to a better career.  Sometimes a job you take out of necessity or an interest/hobby turns out to be a great career.  However, sometimes that career you felt so called to changes to one you want to leave, or a dream business opportunity fails, or you don’t want a traditional “job” but instead want to raise your children and be there for your parents as they age.

The Dream Career Conundrum

My “dream careers” were to be a rock and roll star, an opera star, or a conductor of great choirs.  I still sing as a hobby (paid and unpaid) and don’t conduct much, but I am truly happy in my vocation as a career coach, resume writer and small business coach.   The reality is that ALL of us are multi-faceted and any number of careers can make us happy.  So, first we have to determine if the career itself is the problem or perhaps something else.  For instance:

–Are there issues with your current boss that make you unhappy in your job?

–Do you dislike the values or current direction of the company for which you work?

–Do you like your current fellow employees?

–Could there be issues from your home life that impact your work life – like a divorce or separation, sick parent, sick child, or money issues?

–Do you suffer from depression or other related illness that can negatively impact how you feel about your life and career?

–Does the job pay enough for you to save a bit of money and not live paycheck-to-paycheck?  This will necessitate you looking at your finances and determining where you might be overspending and if that could be creating part of the problem.

–Is it YOUR attitude?

The Dream Career Conundrum

Sometimes what you bring to the table is ultimately what makes the job miserable.  That can be hard to hear for some of my clients, but bad attitudes, grouchy demeanor’s, and an overall “the glass is half-empty and where the hell is my cheeseburger” outlook will get you nothing but dissatisfaction.

Ask yourself if you like the work you do, not the boss, employees, etc., but the work itself?  How about the industry?  Perhaps it isn’t a new career in total, but a different job within your current industry.   What about the work environment?  If you work alone but love people, or vice versa, you might be miserable due to the environment but not the job.

Regardless of whether you stay in your current job, change your job or change your career, make sure that your decision is made with a dose of reality.  There are no true dream careers like you see in a commercial or a movie.  Yet, there are highly satisfying careers, given the proper circumstances (appropriate pay, good work environment, nice coworkers, a happy and grateful attitude by you, and a company and boss who seem to care overall).  Even if one or two of the above are missing, you can still like your job/career.  Too many have changed their entire career path when the real issue wasn’t the work itself.

The Dream Career Conundrum

Take your time in evaluating your current career and your personal life to find the root of the issue, and do it as objectively and dispassionately as possible.  Then, if the career is truly dis-satisfactory, take more time to discover options of where you could have a more satisfying career experience.   Do not rush to a decision, which could have you jumping from the frying pan and into the fire.  Likewise, don’t stay if you know you are in the wrong place, as becoming comfortable in your discomfort because change seems more stressful, will only make the rest of your life increasingly unsettled.  Whether you find a new career on your own, or with some guidance from a career coach, know that each job/career has its difficulties.  Also know that you can find a career you love and live a more fulfilling life because of it.


Karen Silins is a multi-certified, award winning resume writer, career, business and personal branding coach working with individuals and small businesses.  After graduating with degrees in education and vocal performance, she made her own career transition into the Human Resources realm.  Karen left Human Resources to become an entrepreneur and help jobseekers and fellow entrepreneurs achieve their goals.  She keeps current regarding trends in the resume writing, coaching, HR, small business and marketing industries by working daily with individual clients on resume development and career coaching, consulting for small businesses in business plan development, marketing, blogging, hiring and overall HR processes, and providing 30-70+ seminars and workshops annually to a variety of organizations in the greater Kansas City area.  She can be reached via her website at