How to Find Your Dream Job and The Happiness You Deserve

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The Declaration of Independence states everyone is entitled to certain "inalienable rights," including "life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness." We all love and fight for the first two…so why is that third one so hard for so many of us when it comes to our careers? The authors of that famous line were all wealthy men. For them, the "pursuit of happiness" did not come into conflict with mortgages, kids, bills, and everything else that hinders people. Be that as it may, it does not make that statement any less worthwhile. However, many people, myself included, reach a point in their lives when we realize the career we have chosen for ourselves is just not right anymore. There is something in us that yearns for more. Perhaps it’s an unfulfilled wish from our past that gnaws at us, or maybe it’s a recently discovered passion. But the question that faces so many of us is, I’m not happy and what now? It’s a good question. There comes a point when that job that makes someone so unhappy is also the one that provides a comfortable lifestyle for them and their family. This is the classic "rock and a hard place" scenario: staying in a bad job leads to misery and heartache, but leaving it – even to pursue a dream job – is risky and terrifying. Given this choice, most people opt for stable misery over unstable risk. It’s sound thinking…but also flawed. Here’s the truth: successfully switching careers is not a fast or direct process. It’s an incremental and multi-faceted course of action that takes real time to see it through to fruition. It is not an "all or nothing" option. You don’t have to just take a leap of faith and quit your job and hope you have made the right decision. In other words, there are lots of things that can be done while still employed to test out that dream job, and make sure the potential reward is worth the expected risk. Find a Mentor – Perhaps the most important step in pursuing a dream job is to find someone who already works in that field who can offer guidance and advice as you proceed. Believe it or not, this is not as difficult as it might sound. In my experience, many people express fear at the prospect of asking for help from a prospective mentor. Why would they want to help you, after all? The answer is easy: people like helping other people! By asking a prospective mentor for help, they are being told they are admired for what they do, their career is in demand, and their experiences and insights are valuable to others. Not everyone will see it this way, but once you start asking, you’ll be surprised how receptive people are. No matter what your dream job may be, there are other people out there who are doing it, but not all those people would be good mentors for you. How can you find a good mentor?
  1. Research the field and find out about the people who are in it.
  2. Create a list of people who seem like good fits with you
  3. Start contacting them slowly at first – a polite and formal email, for example – and see who responds.
  4. Try to form a relationship, and get to know their personalities even as you try to exhibit yours. Like so many other things, when you find the right mentor, you’ll know it.
Plan a Mentorship – Once you’ve found a mentor, the next step is to plan a brief trip to their workplace, to shadow them and learn the "ins and outs" of your dream job. As we all know, while things may be perfect in our imaginations, in reality even the most perfect jobs have their downsides. It would be awful to dive headfirst into a new career, only to discover a few months in that it’s not for you. By having a mentorship you can:
  1. Get hands-on experience in the field
  2. Learn about it from someone you respect
  3. Get a taste for whether or not it’s really the field for you
All of this can be accomplished without giving up anything more than a few paid vacation days. No rules would be broken, and no one at your "real" job even has to know what you’re doing. When planning a mentorship, make sure to make your mentor’s availability your first priority, and take the time to prepare your questions in advance. When you’re there, keep a notebook with you at all times, scribble notes throughout the day, then fill them out in detail each night. With so much to learn, you want to get it all, then retain it for later. Attack the Situation Head On – At the conclusion of your mentorship, one of three things will have happened:
  1. You’ll have realized the job you’re in is the right one for you, in which case you have risked nothing and ended up feeling better about where you are.
  2. You’ll come back still determined for a career change, but with the realization that this one wasn’t the right one either. In that case, no harm done, just start over!
  3. You return from your mentorship determined to proceed, then you can move forward knowing that the path ahead is the correct one.
Keep asking questions, and move forward one step at a time. Life is a constant stream of choices, some harder to make than others. Changing careers can be one of the trickiest, especially when there are obstacles in the way. But if you can arm yourself with enough information and experience to be able to know that a dream job is possible and attainable, it goes a long way toward the pursuit of your very own sense of happiness. Brian Kurth is the founder of VocationVacations and the author of "Test-Drive Your Dream Job." Kurth is a sought after expert on how to pursue and attain one’s dream job. He has shared his wit and wisdom in appearances on NBC’s TODAY Show, CNN, and FOX News, and has been featured in articles in the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal and Fortune Magazine. Many more regularly turn to Brian for his comments, advice and insights. A native of Madison, Wisconsin, Kurth lives in Portland, Oregon.

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  • Melissa Kennedy
    Melissa Kennedy
    Wow! This is really a great discussion. Thanks to everyone for sharing their story. Changing careers is challenging, but not impossible. The biggest keys are networking and mentorship. When you plan for a change, look for people who can help you.
  • Robert H
    Robert H
    Thanks. Good advice.
  • Kathleen A
    Kathleen A
    Very true! In my case, most of the time, the work is easily learned if there's good mentors ready to help without any hidden agenda and insecurities. The tool to a dream job is a dream team followed by the new tasks and responsibilities that you chose to take. ;) luv et!
  • Susan Munzel
    Susan Munzel
    I thought this article was very informative and helps job seekers take another look at how and why they want to pursue there new careers.
  •  Eletthia J
    Eletthia J
    i love reading articles that are positive, to the point and full of useful information.  I'm glad I read this article and got some insight and a different way to go about searching for a new career change.  THANKS!!!
  • Thomas T
    Thomas T
    Very comforting to know that there might be a way out of "the rock and hard place" situation I am now in. Honestly never thought about reaching out quite that way. A great piece of advice, everything helps!
  • Frances Y
    Frances Y
    I work part time at an Employment Center. I think this simply explains the role of the mentor. Thanks for your input.
  •  Jon G
    Jon G
    I am inventing a new field, and I have not heard of anyone who is doing it. I wonder how to find a mentor who has created a new field.
  • denise d
    denise d
    thanks for the advice,but i'm a forty   something year old does that still work for me.
  • Chris L
    Chris L
    This article was interesting to read
  • Holly Y
    Holly Y
    First, thank you for this information, it's very helpful to me.  I actually have a question.  I did start looking for my dream job while I was working my current job.  Part of the reason for looking at other opportunities was because my husband's job will be ending in a few months and I need to find a job that offers benefits and better pay.  I told my boss I would need to find a different job because I didn't want her to be stuck in a bad situation when I did find a job.  I realize now that was not a smart thing to do because she's hired my replacement and asked me to leave.  I'm not even sure I can file for unemployment since I wasn't really fired but I didn't quit either.  
  • Joyce S.
    Joyce S.
    I'm dedicated to my career of massage therapy, it is a rewarding profession, clients very certainly rise with a positive attitude, it is beneficial, restoring and re-energizing as well as healing; massage therapy is an excellent ingredient to the wellness life style.
  • Boly L.
    Boly L.
    what is website? is not website?
  • Magda
    Great post!
  • A.Cox
    I was recently laid off from a large Biotech company in SSF as an Accountant. Being laid off gave me the opportunity to do a few creative things that I was unable to do such as exercise, going to the gym,etc. I would like to start looking for another job in about 2 weeks. It is so refreshing. I would love to work for another company like that. Does anyone know of any recent openings.? God bless.
  • C. kKing
    C. kKing
    Looking for any work at home jobs.
  • Luisa Rodriguez
    Luisa Rodriguez
    I was laid off after 17yrs in a factory. I went to school for medical office specialist, I did learn a lot but I can't seem to keep a job because my employer says I don't pick up the computer system. What can I do?
  • Karen
    My passion is real estate photography.  I'd love to find a mentor for that field!I've been reading "48 Days to the Work You Love" by Dan Miller.  It has helped me so much.  I strongly recommend it.
  • B Corcoran
    B Corcoran
    This is in response to Rosario Veschusio.  You mentioned that you like to sell.  I may have an opportunity that would interest you, and would like to share the information for you to see and make a decision.  May be for you, maybe not, but wanted to share the information.  Please contact me at   Also, to Linda Williams - I feel your pain.   When I was looking for a job the response I received from so many "scam" jobs was so depressing.   Don't give up and be careful what you sign up for - I couldn't believe how many scam jobs there were - even on reputable sites.  Good Luck and trust your gut feelings ALWAYS.
  • Norma
    Only yesterday I was thinking about finding a mentor, so was very happy about this article, it gives me the encouragement I need to go ahead and find one.I trained at a medical college and graduated last September as a Medical Assistant, but having a very hard time finding my dream job. I did the required extern, but it was at a place that was not hiring. Every posting I find wants previous experience.  Where can I find an entry level position? Yes, finding a mentor may be my only hope.  
  • Gwendolyn
    I need a job.  Presently, I do not need more education because that will create more debt.  Therefore I am interested in a regular 9 to 5 job in management or in any area that does not require to call people or going door to door randomly requesting people speed more.  I am not interested in those types of jobs.
  • Kenneth Marchal
    Kenneth Marchal
    Very informative and enlightening article. having been laid-off twice in the last 2 years, I'm searching for a career in which I can help others, such as social work, but I'm finding that these jobs are hard to obtain without that background. Your insight in the mentoring procedure was very helpful.
  • Dave Semones
    Dave Semones
    Very Interesting Mentor Idea !!
  • irene alfaro
    irene alfaro
    I am looking for a Medical Office Specialist job. I am a hardworker very motivated in what i do.
  • Russell
    Looking for a inspiring career.

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