“I am committed to the belief that everyone should have fulfilling work, because fulfilling work leads to fulfilled lives.”
At Actionable, we are obsessed with making the world of work better for everyone. The statistics on employee engagement are dismal—less than 30% of employees are engaged in their work. Susan Katz’s book, Create Your Dream Job: Change your Mindset, Change your Life is a manual for anyone who is unhappy at work and ready to make a change. Full of practical advice, inspiring anecdotes, and hands-on worksheets, Create Your Dream Job will help you make, and stick to, a plan for finding work that makes you happy.
The Big Idea
Be Interested, Not Interesting
"Job searching today is an understandably scary prospect. With all the news about the number of people who either are out of work, have stopped looking for work, or have resorted to part-time work, and the caution companies are showing in adding new positions, it would be easy to assume that sticking with an unfulfilling job is better than risking a search for a new one. Making that assumption would be your first mistake!"
Katz identifies the 10 Most Common Job Search Mistakes, and provides tactics for how to avoid them. The 10 mistakes are:
- Sending out resumes only in response to job postings
- Not believing that it’s possible to get a new job
- Not clearly defining the work that you want to do and are best suited to do
- Being afraid to ask for referrals
- Avoiding conversations with people because you are embarrassed to be out of work
- Spending too much time on the wrong activities
- Talking to much when you have a networking one-to-one conversation or are meeting with a prospective employer
- Having difficulty asking questions or knowing what questions to ask
- Not using every conversation as an opportunity to expand your network
- Lacking confidence or feeling hopeless
Any one of these behaviors on their own may not be detrimental to your job search, but all together they may be fatal.
The underlying theme of these mistakes is a tendency to try to be interesting, instead of interested. Of course you want to put your best self forward in your job search—you want to send perfectly tailored resumes and demonstrate that you’re the best candidate for the job. Maybe you’re nervous about tapping or expanding your network because it feels pushy, or you don’t want to ask questions because you’re afraid you will appear to be unqualified.
To avoid these mistakes, focus on being interested in opportunities—ask questions, build relationships, and seek out challenging experiences. While it’s important to be interesting in a job search, focusing too much on presenting yourself in this light can end up closing you off to new opportunities.
Believe that your Dream Job Exists, and that you Deserve It
"Whether you are looking for a new job, training to become an elite athlete, saving for the future, getting healthy, or building a business, thought creates your reality."
As a person who recently landed her dream job—after years of believing it was unattainable, that I had screwed up somewhere along the way in my career path and didn’t deserve the kind of happiness I aspired to, years of accepting the behavior of bad managers and uncooperative teammates—I can tell you that dream jobs do exist. To get there, you have to believe that you are capable and deserving of happiness at work.
This first step is to adopt a positive mindset. Katz defines mindset as “a fixed mental attitude or disposition that predetermines a person’s responses to and interpretations of situations—that is, it’s an inclination or habit of mind” (page 38). If you are stuck in the mindset that your dream job is just a dream, that you don’t deserve to be engaged in your work, or that you aren’t qualified for the work you’d like to do, you will struggle to make meaningful change. If you shift your mindset to believe that finding your dream job is possible, it will help you to shift your behavior and achieve results quickly. Believe that career advancement is possible, and it will be, because you will start to take actions to achieve it.
Start. And Don’t Stop.
"Small actions, taken consistently every day, will lead you to positive outcomes, create momentum, and build your confidence."
My mother is fond of saying: “you can have everything you want, you just probably can’t have it all at once.” Despite my best efforts at rebellion, I’ve really internalized this as one of my mantras. When you are consistent and deliberate, you can achieve results.
Think about getting into better shape. Though we’d all prefer there to be a magic switch to flip that would make us instantly healthier, the reality is that repeated and deliberate actions are the only way to see results. One workout on its own is an anomaly. Four workouts a week for three months is a meaningful change. Consistent exercise over years can be revolutionary.
It’s important to apply the same concept to our work. You can decide right now if you want to find a better job or start a business, but you won’t get very far without a plan. Make a commitment to expand your network, ask your contacts for job opportunities, or enrol in a business course. With deliberate and sustained action over time, you will begin to see results.
After two months of working at my dream job, I feel strongly that everyone deserves to do fulfilling work—we simply spend too much time working to stay stuck in dead-end, unhappy, unengaged work. Of course, dreams are different for everyone, and the path to fulfilling work will be different for each individual. Whatever stage you are at in your career journey, Katz provides actionable insights into how to pursue your dreams. If you’re one of the 70% of employees who are unhappy with their work, you can use the tactics outlined above to get started today.