When I ask you to put an official title to your dream job, does it immediately spring to mind? If so, you’re a rarity. Contrary to the backdrop of rockstar entrepreneurs and endless supermums (or dads!) who can do it all, it seems to me that we can’t all pinpoint what it is we’re searching for – just that we want something more.
And that’s ok. I’m going to tell you why, but first, a little of my background to set the scene.
As 2016 began and I entered the first year of my late-twenties and started to grow a life in my tummy, the realization hit me that I have no clue what job I want anymore. Before I moved to Norway from England in 2012, I had just graduated with a sparkling Bachelor in Journalism and an equally dazzling level of ambition. I would have it all: long work days at a gritty newspaper, a loving family for whom I would provide time, money and homemade bread and all the while wearing a killer office dress. Then I moved to Norway for love and reality took an unwelcome home in me.
In a country whose language I didn’t speak and where a Master degree was the norm, my experience with journalism didn’t mean a darn thing. My ambition sank along with my heart and I served coffee for three years. Seeing a dismal future where I never escaped the serving industry, I signed up to business school. Big mistake. I’m a communicator and a creator, not a financial analyst.
So, here we are in 2016. I’ve dropped out of business school, I’m five months pregnant and am married to my best friend. I have no idea what next year looks like for me and I couldn’t be happier.
I recently read Danielle LaPorte’s Desire Map and her main message really hit home for me: “Don’t chase a goal, chase a feeling”. What’s the one thing all goals have in a common? A desired feeling that’s behind them. To get a promotion so you can feel financially secure or valued. Have a child by age 30 so you can feel nurturing or accomplished. Buy that rug so you can feel a sense of really being home.
In today’s world where overachievement is valued and we are told we can be a parent, have a high-flying career, meditate and look good all at the same time, it’s no wonder that we feel we should be aiming higher all the time.
Yet it’s also in today’s world that people change their career five to seven times. We live in a world where we are meant to constantly update our skills and network, network, network. It’s harder to know what job title we want because careers of today no longer have the same shape for a lifetime. Some careers are so fluid that they don’t even have a title. Take, for example, Lydia Winters of Mojang (the creators of Minecraft) whose job title when she first began was ‘Director of fun’.
And that’s why, friends, I want you to feel ok if you don’t know what your dream job is or how to get there. And I go so far as to say you shouldn’t spend energy thinking about it. Instead, think about how you want to feel. How do you want to feel when you leave for work, when you’re collaborating with your colleagues, when you think about what you’ve done for the day? Shape your feelings first and maybe a clearer picture of your dream job will follow. It’s much easier to find ways to achieve a feeling than to tick off all the things on a five-year plan. And the best part of practicing this train of thought is that you can apply it to all areas of your life. Every time you decide you want something, ask yourself why.
This isn’t about lowering your standards; it’s about shifting your perspective. Goals are healthy, but knowing why you want them is healthier – both for yourself and those around you. The little life I’m brewing isn’t going to be impacted most by an impressive job title. How I feel about what I do is going to leave the biggest impression.
I still don’t know what ‘work’ will look like for me after maternity leave, but instead of trawling LinkedIn over the next year, I’m going to be regularly checking in on how I want to feel and find smaller, everyday ways to fulfill that. Maybe those things will result in paid work, maybe not.
So don’t ask yourself “How can I get to the next level in my career?” but instead, “How do I want to feel?”.
Name: Tiffany Hildre
Occupation: Press & Communications assistant at BI Norwegian Business School
Lives: Fagerstrand, Nesodden / Norway