Terrance Heath

What If Your Dream Job Doesn't Exist Anymore?

Filed By Terrance Heath | April 21, 2009 3:30 PM | comments

Filed in: Living, Politics
Tags: best job

Shelly Palmer asks a rather disturbing question.

dream_job.jpgHow many people are now looking for jobs that no longer exist? If you used to be a computer photo typesetter, you were replaced in the 1980's with desktop publishing. Now, if you had that skill set, you probably could have opened a boutique desktop-based print pre-production house and done fine. Or, you could have looked for work in the transportation or food services industry. They are all about as related.

Perhaps you'd like to be a theme music composer for television or a graphic designer for the broadcast industry. How about a gig as a professional studio trombone player, or a camera person on a remote three-person news crew?

All of these jobs still exist in some form, but they are far from dream jobs. In fact, these production skills have been commoditized and practitioners can look forward to making about the same kind of money as they would waiting tables in a good restaurant.

So, what's the right answer?

This is the closest I could find in Palmer's column, but it leaves me with questions.

What would you do differently if you had the ability to accurately assess the total potential of your dream job and found out that it was no longer possible for it to provide the living you dreamed accompanying it? There's only one answer ... you'd look for a different line of work.

Everything is change, I guess. And I believe I understand the Buddhist concept of impermanence. I had what was probably the closest thing I've had yet to a "dream job," and it was good while it lasted, but it eventually changed.

My skill set was either no longer needed, or not as specialized as it used to be, or the company found more profitability in an area that I didn't have the skills for or wasn't suited for. (If I'd been a talented project manager, I might still be there, but that whole ADD/executive functioning thing took care of that.)

Now, I have a job that doesn't quite qualify for that title. I've looked for one that does, but without success. Now, the field is even more crowded with writers (thanks to closing newspapers, etc.), and thus more competitive. Being a blogger doesn't quite have the cache it used to.

But, I still dream of... something else.

So, what do you do if your dream job doesn't exist anymore? What if it doesn't exist in another line of work?

Do you dream a different dream?

Do you (finally) stop dreaming?

Either way, you gotta earn a paycheck, and on any given day you'll spend the better part of it earning that paycheck or doing something related to earning it (like getting ready for work, commuting to work, etc.).

What do you do if the chances are slim and getting slimmer that you'll be doing something you love or even want to do for, say, eight hours a day?


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I was a "computer photo typesetter" until 1993 and have been laid off from vaguely "related" jobs an additional two more times since then. Right now the criteria of my "dream job" have been reduced to (a) having health care benefits and (b) not being stressed 8 hours a day by total morons in the management ladder above me.

Robert Ganshorn Robert Ganshorn | April 22, 2009 3:25 AM

Terrance, I always say look for your "passion" and work for satisfaction of that need.

Now for most, it is totally adequate to work for someone else, for life. There is never a better time than right now to plan to begin your own business of a type that has employed you (or the segment of what you had done that you liked).

Small businesses are flexible and able to react more efficiently than large ones. You can provide services to mid size companies who would be too small on their own to have a full staff doing your specialization. Small businesses are not burdened by multiple layers of management. Small businesses require that you constantly look to see around the next corner to obtain a technological advantage over competitors,or respond to a sea change in your industry. It can be very rewarding and you can see how your efforts help others.

It is a lot of work and it usually is a greater helping of stress and commitment to deadlines. I worked six days a week and half the week ends of every year and I loved it. Remember, if it is your passion, it is not work at all. If your only goal is to sit behind a desk (throwing pellets at your manager) and have health insurance you are probably the most replaceable person in your work place.

I run Bilerico Project for a living.

I've got my dream job. At least for right now... :)