The Dream Job

Posted: August 8, 2011 in business, life
Tags: , ,

Dream Job

What’s your dream job?

Is it working from home? Being a teacher? Becoming an entrepreneur?

My friend Matt, at 28, decided his dream job was to be a high school math teacher. He quit his job, enrolled in classes and is on his way to making that dream come true. His dream is to make a difference in the lives of high schoolers but it took a big sacrifice to make that happen. Now that he’s in school and on his way to becoming a teacher, I actually can’t imagine him doing anything else.

Another friend, Christian, in the midst of school, found an interest in photography. He cashed in his 401k, bought a camera, studied his butt off and a year later he’s quickly becoming a successful photographer and you may have seen some of his work already.

Another childhood friend of mine is an accountant. He’s working with a smalltown company to get his feet wet but has dreams of moving back to the even smaller town we grew up in because he wants to be the town’s accounting guy. How cool is that?

Now, I’m not naive, I know that most people work their tails off just to make the ends meet. I know stacks of people who sacrifice their dream job because they have a family they must provide for. I also know that it takes years of sacrifice to get to the point where you can have your dream job. I’ve been there – heck, I’m STILL there.

But it is a reality.

You have to be driven. You have to work hard – sometimes at things you don’t care about. You have to  be willing to sleep less. You have to be willing to network. You have to be willing to sacrifice.

When Tara and I moved to Nashville, it wasn’t easy. I spent the first several years working in retail while Tara completed her internship and was a nanny. We contemplated moving home so many times. Afterall, couldn’t we work at the mall and nanny back in Missouri, close to all of our friends and family?

Somehow we ended up staying in Nashville and working, sacrificing, sleeping less and networking. Eventually, years after we moved here, Tara got the job. Three years later, the same happened for me.

It took me 5 years to get the job I have now. Even at this point last year, I wasn’t sure it would happen. Do you know how many times I wanted to quit? I don’t, because I lost count. It wasn’t fun then, but it made me work harder.

I’m not saying any of this to brag. I’m putting it out there because you can do it too. You can have your dream job. You can work hard, you can sacrifice, you can network – you can make it happen.

Step 1: Don’t make excuses
Unemployment is near 10%, you say? I got a job last November during that same unemployment low in an industry that’s worse off now than it’s ever been.

In the same vein, don’t be lazy. If you expect your dream job to fall in your lap, you’re crazy. Nobody wins the lottery without playing.

Step 2: Network your butt off
Go to Vista Print and get free business cards. They may look a little cheesy, but they’re free. Connect with people on Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn and meet them for coffee (remember though, if you call a meeting, you buy the coffee). Save up some cash for a “meeting fund” and ask your contacts for advice, where they started or what tips they would give you. DO NOT ask them for a job – that’s not why you’re meeting with them.

Step 3: You were made to do this
One of my best friends is a car guy, so working for a major car company is a sure fit. It hasn’t always been glamourous and he’s had countless 12-hour days in the office, but I can guarantee he’s having fun. After several years working his way up with the company, he now gets to travel around the world and drive crazy awesome cars almost anytime he wants.

If you’re not familiar with them, there are 2 books I’d recommend for anyone trying to find their dream job. The first is 48 Days To The Work You Love. I did a book study with friends who were also in the that “I’m not sure what I want to do with my life” phase. A few chapters in, I’d been laid off, one guy was quitting his job to become a math teacher (aforementioned Matt) and the other guy found a new passion for his job. We all used this book to help propel us to take the next step in our careers.

The second book is Love Is The Killer App. This book is amazing no matter which field you jump into. It teaches you a new approach to winning friends, business, coworkers and even your boss.

Step 4: Make it happen
A ship in harbor is safebut that is not what ships are for. -John A. Shedd

This is a tricky step because sometimes you can’t make it happen right now. That doesn’t mean you can’t prepare though.

Take my friend Christian – he couldn’t just go buy a Nikon and start taking pictures of everything in the world. He studied cameras, lenses, photoshop, other photographers and got advice from family about things like a the perfect computer for editing and starting a business from scratch.

My friend Matt didn’t run straight to a high school and apply to be a teacher – he went back to school, spends his nights and weekends studying and works part time at a math tutoring facility.

For most of us, our dream job won’t just fall in our laps. But, I can promise you that if you work hard and stay dedicated, you won’t be let down.

Now, go make it happen.

  1. Ericarica says:

    Thanks, Todd! The downside for me is that I’m in Virginia and and even when the sign says “Hiring” the store managers(on many occassions) would say, Oh, that so and so didn’t take the sign down.”


    The school system doesn’t hire until the end of August(or they change their minds) and many places to look for work are very far from my home-no transportation for me. My family members do their own thing. Until then I fret about it, complain to anyone who will listen and constantly use a brokedown laptop to fill out online applications for jobs I NEVER hear from.

    But I am glad you and your family have found grace in the vortex 🙂

    • toddstepp says:

      Erica – I bet with your computer you could still find someway to monetize your writing – whether it’s on your blog, with a publisher or focusing on content writing. You may not even have to leave home! I’d love to hear what you’re doing when you find something.

  2. -Todd

    Great read. I’m convinced if you keep writing awesome posts like this that it’s gonna go big time. Seriously don’t stop. Encouraging people to live the life they want is a gift. Keep sharing it.

  3. Sara says:

    I just wanted to tell you that you are a wonderul writer. I’m lucky in that I’ve always known what I wanted to do. And even more lucky in that I got my “dream job” right out of college! I don’t take that for granted! BTW…who is the accountant? You know I know this awesome guy who owns his own accounting firm right? 🙂 Anywhoo…thanks for this!!

    • toddstepp says:

      Thanks for the note, Sara. The accountant is actually Gary Wood, he was a year ahead of us in school. I totally forgot your dad has a firm – too funny! Hope you are well.

  4. […] This post was Twitted by toddstepp […]

  5. Kat Anderson says:

    I am so happy that I had the fortune to meet and work with you do many years ago. I never thought that I would look back on selling ornaments and cards and remember some of the best memories of working in the mall were at that Hallmark. Thank you for showing me that you could still work hard, but have fun doing it and to not take anything for granted. This was an awesome post that really has me thinking that just maybe I can find my dream job too.

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