Dream jobs can be a nightmare in reality

Journalist Colette Sexton on why some dream jobs can turn out to be less than perfect.


"Choose a job you love and you’ll never work a day in your life." What a lovely, idyllic phrase. Of course, it is not true. Life isn’t that simple. We are told to follow our passions in the world of work, to build a career in something we enjoy doing. This is a nice sentiment, but no matter what career you do, there will always be Mondays when you don’t want to drag yourself out of bed. There will be tasks you have to complete that you dread. There will be people you have to deal with that you don’t like. Spending our lives searching for that one perfect job, the thing that makes us spring out of bed every single morning with glee and has us dreading the end of the working day every day, is an ill-fated mission.  

Related: Making the leap: When leaving your 'dream' job is the right thing to do

Escaping the rat race

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Many people have a dream to escape the rat race to open a small bookshop or a bed and breakfast, to become a novelist or to sing for a living. These are nice things to fantasise about, but the reality of these jobs are far from the fantasy world you picture. Firstly, the vast majority of us work because we need money to pay rent and eat and live. It can be very difficult to make ends meet in these fantasy jobs.

It is a good exercise to think about your dream job and ask yourself why it is you want it. Do you want to sing to impress others? Do you want to write because you love being creative? Do you want to run your own business so you can be your own boss? When you figure it out, ask yourself if there is a way you can implement an element of that into your current career. After all, you have probably spent years working your way up this particular career path — do you really want to start off at ground zero again?

Related: What it's really like to ditch the day job and make the dream job happen

Passion alone won’t pay the bills

If you do insist on pursuing your passion, go in with your eyes open. Know that it is likely to take long hours and hard work to be successful. Be prepared for the tasks that are not enjoyable but are necessary, like figuring out taxes and regulations. Make sure you can build it into something viable that can keep you financially afloat. Passion alone won’t pay the bills. It might be a good idea to start doing it on a part-time basis instead of quitting your job immediately. As this will not be as much of a major commitment, you will also be able to realise when it is not working and move on to the next thing, instead of feeling like you have to keep pushing it even when it is failing.


Read more: What to do when your career goes to plan but you're still not happy

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