My wedding wasn’t the greatest day of my life.
I actually don’t understand when people say that it was. Most people are big balls of stress on their wedding day, trying to spend one minute of meaningful time with each of 200 guests. It’s just one of many unrealistic expectations people have of their wedding days. But I digress.
My wedding was wonderful. And despite what you may be thinking after reading the first line of this blog post, I’m still happily married. It was an absolutely amazing day filled with laughs, friends, love and happiness. But it, like any other day, also had its low points.
It was 110 degrees (we did a destination wedding in Belize). My officiant (who is also my sister in law) had food poisoning. I spent a solid 45 minutes of the evening when everyone else was partying working with my coordinator to review the details of every guest’s travel the next day to ensure everyone was set for transport to their next destination.
Would I have preferred not to have my guests sweating through their dresses and shirts? Sure. But am I at all disappointed? Absolutely not. Because I expected it to be an incredible day but certainly not a perfect one.
I’ve found that people have the same unattainable visions of their dream jobs that they have of their weddings. They want the job that will pay them the big bucks, be extremely flexible, be incredibly strategic with no grunt work, be at the most desirable company, be low stress… and the list goes on.
Almost all of these things are attainable. But usually not all at the same time. And usually not all day every day. Life and your career consist of tradeoffs. You want that big, important, strategic job? Well with that usually comes a bit of stress. You want extreme flexibility and to work only 20 hours per week? With that usually comes lower pay.
Here are some important spoiler alerts about your dream job:
It’s your dream job because of your priorities not because it’s perfect.
No job is perfect. But a job can be perfect for you based on what you are looking for at this phase in your life. For me, I’m currently obsessed with creating an amazing company, helping change people’s lives, having flexibility in my schedule, cultivating an amazing culture, and so being an entrepreneur and building Ama La Vida is my dream job. But are there certain tradeoffs I’m making to do it? Of course! I’m making way less money than I was previously. I work A LOT. I do a lot of menial tasks simply because they need to get done. This is my dream job. Hands down. But it is definitely not perfect, and not every day that I go to my job is the best day of my life.
You’ll always have tasks that aren’t your favorite.
I’ve been fortunate enough to have some great jobs throughout my career, but they’ve always come with a host of tasks I don’t enjoy. I’ve always hated submitting my expenses. Don’t know why – just can’t stand the monotony of it. And so I’d regularly be the person getting the nastygram from compliance that my reports were in late (now that I really know how important it is that people do this in a timely fashion I feel bad for being so careless previously).
As you move up in your career, you can absolutely avoid some of the monotonous and menial. But there will still be things you’ll have to do that you won’t enjoy. Maybe it’s budgeting. You could have become a senior leader and love the strategic and leadership aspects of it, but just the thought of budgeting season makes you sick. Or maybe you’re very comfortable leading your team but just hate the parts of your job where you have to stand up in front of your peers and share your vision and accomplishments.
Only you will know the parts that you don’t love, but what I know for sure is that they will exist.
This blog post may feel like I’m word by word, letting air out of your balloon and deflating your vision for your future dream job. But I don’t see it that way. I see it as being realistic and practical, as setting attainable expectations so that you can truly enjoy your dream job and flourish there.
You could let one catering mix up or wardrobe malfunction completely ruin your wedding day for you and look back and say, “That was a disaster!” Or you can embrace it as part of your story, knowing nothing is 100% perfect, but that your special day was pretty darn close.
So assuming you’re with me in theory and agree that there will still be parts of your dream job that you don’t completely love, how do you get through them without letting it put a damper on your positivity?
Here are some things you can do to stay focused on the “dream” part of your role and less on the “job” part:
Select the right dream job.
Well, first of all, let’s start by selecting the right dream job for you. Just like with your wedding, there will be many external forces influencing your decisions and trying to sway your vision. There are societal pressures. Family pressures. Financial pressures. In both cases, you must identify these pressures and ultimately make the right decision for you. This is even more important when it comes to your job because this is something which will shape your life for years to come. Make sure you are choosing the job that’s right for you and not what someone else thinks you should do.
I recommend taking time to reflect on your passions – what gives you energy, your gifts – your unique strengths, values – what guides your most important decisions and your purpose – the impact you want to make in your career right now. Think about your non-negotiables. And then select the job which is most aligned with who you are and the environment in which you thrive.
Focus on gratitude.
It’s easy to focus on all the negative aspects of your job instead of the positive ones. Ugh, this mandatory report is ruining my day. Wah, why do I have to go to this silly meeting? But hey – why don’t we flip the script? What about all of the things you get to do? Yeah, I have to spend 30 minutes of my day on this report, but I get to spend the other 8 hours moving an important project forward. I get to be part of this company’s exciting vision. I get to do work I care about with people I enjoy being around and learning from. I have the opportunity to work and provide for my family. When we focus on the many wonderful things about our job, especially when we’ve carefully selected it to align with who we are, the less exciting aspects of the job stop commanding so much of our attention.
Power through your less exciting work.
It’s got to get done, so you might as well find ways to do it without it irking you so much.
- A great way to do this is to batch your work when possible. Instead of doing that annoying thing for a little bit each day and letting it affect your mood frequently, can you batch it all into one day and crank it out?
- Or maybe the opposite approach will be more effective for you. If doing a task you don’t enjoy feels like this huge weight on you that you constantly carry around, work on it just a little bit each day so you can, over time, lessen the load and have it feel less daunting.
- Another approach is to do one difficult task first thing in the morning. You’ll feel accomplished right off the bat and have a lot more mental energy to put toward your interesting work throughout the rest of the day.
- Reward yourself. This can feel silly, but it works. There are certain podcasts that I love, and I only let myself listen to these particular ones when I’m running. The run may be painful, but I still look forward to it because I know my favorite podcast will accompany it. You can do something similar with your work. Don’t let yourself get that latte you love unless you complete that task you’ve been putting off. Or reward yourself with a walk outside once you’ve crossed off that thing you’ve been avoiding on your to-do list.
- Delegate and give someone else an opportunity to learn. We are all different, and so the tasks I may hate can sometimes be things a colleague of mine loves. Is there someone on your team whose passions and gifts are aligned with the task? Even if it is something most people wouldn’t enjoy, is there someone more junior who would benefit from learning how to do it? Think carefully about whether or not you truly need to do this or if someone else can help.
Your dream job awaits, and it will be wonderful. It will be filled with exciting people and opportunities. Tagging along will be a few tasks you don’t love. And that’s okay. You don’t have to love every second of your day to love your job. You don’t have to find perfection in every way to enjoy your work, grow and make an impact. You simply have to focus on your priorities and maintain a positive outlook.
Every day and every moment of my job isn’t perfect. But I’m building a business and career that I am extremely proud of. My wedding day also wasn’t perfect. But it was aligned with who I am and what’s important to me, and it was a great way to celebrate the start of building a wonderful marriage.