O Me of Little Faith

O Me of Little Faith


Career Satisfaction: The Truth About Dreams

posted by Jason Boyett

Yesterday I asked you to list your first job, your current job, and your dream job in which money was no object. Your answers were fascinating. Thank you to all of you who participated.

A lot of you — I counted 16 — listed something like be a writer, write books, become a published author, etc. The reason so many people on the Internet want to be writers is a fascinating one, and may be something we’ll discuss in the future (Jenny had some good thoughts on it yesterday).

But today I want to think about something else: what we dream of becoming. Reading your responses yesterday caused me to engage in some self-reflection. Which is always dangerous. I came up with my personal timeline of my past career goals:

1. In college, as the editor and designer of our school magazine and newspaper, I realized I wanted to be some kind of writer and graphic designer when I grew up. I used to dream about getting an article published in a national magazine.

2. By the time I had graduated from college, I had gotten an article published in a national magazine. (It doesn’t exist any more, but the publication was called Student.) Then I began to dream about writing a novel while working full-time at a church doing writing and design for its ministries.

3. After graduation, I started writing a novel and took a full-time job as communications specialist at a church. I wrote and designed stuff for the church. I dreamed about finishing my novel and getting it published.

4. I finished the novel. (I never got it published, and it exists on paper in my closet.) I still worked at the church, and dreamed about someday breaking into the advertising world as a copywriter and graphic designer.

5. I became a copywriter and graphic designer for a local marketing company. I used to dream of winning awards, designing logos, and directing photo shoots.

6. I won awards, designed logos, and directed photo shoots. Then I dreamed of becoming creative director at the same company, and becoming the guy in charge.

7. I became creative director. I was in charge. I hated it. (Management: not for me.) Then I dreamed of someday writing a book and becoming a published author.

8. I wrote a book and became a published author. Then I dreamed about leaving my creative director job and going back to something simpler and less stressful…something like the work I used to do at the church.

9. I returned to my church job, as Communications Director. Then I began to dream about my writing career really taking off, about writing a series of books, and about getting freelance article assignments from lots of different magazines.

10. My writing career really took off. I wrote a series of books. I got freelance article assignments from lots of different magazines. Then I dreamed about giving up my church job and going out on my own — about becoming a full-time freelance writer and designer, and actually making a living doing it.

11. I gave up my church job and went out on my own. I became a full-time freelance writer and designer, and today I’m actually making a living doing it. Now I dream of having a book really take off in terms of sales and popularity. I dream of writing a novel (again, and getting it published this time). I dream of being asked to do more speaking engagements. I dream of greater impact, a larger voice, and more financial security.

12. ?

——————-

There are two ways to look at the list above.

One is to read it and think “Jason is living the dream!” Because other than getting that first novel published, all the things I have wanted to do I have ended up doing. For what it’s worth, I’m fairly good at setting goals and reaching them.

But this isn’t a personal horn-tooting post. What I want you to see from the list above is that:

a) I have career hopes and dreams

b) I have attained career hopes and dreams; and

c) once I attain them, they end up getting replaced by new hopes and dreams.

There’s always a new goal. A better career. Another dream.

When it comes to my career, I’m always chasing. I’m never arriving.

The dream is never as satisfying as you think it’s going to be. Once you attain it — and if you work hard and catch some luck, you can attain it — it will probably not be the life-changing nirvana you’ve been expecting. When you get there, something else will take its place. You’ll start focusing on the next dream job/life goal/career path. You’ll always discover something better.

The lesson: Your personal fulfillment and satisfaction in life have to come from somewhere other than (or in addition to) your career. Your faith, your family, your purpose…seek fulfillment here first.

I don’t want to discourage anyone from pursuing their dream career. Dream big. Chase it hard. Reach for it, better yourself, and take risks. But realize that, in most cases, when you do achieve your dream, the reality will be less fulfilling than what you expect. There will always be a better position, better work, or someone who’s doing it better than you. There’s always more, and the desire for more is the biggest temptation most of us face. If we always need more, when will we ever be satisfied? Will we ever have enough?

I don’t know.

What I do know is that, at some point, we have to learn to find fulfillment in the most important things — the things unrelated to what we do for a paycheck. These things help us rest, and they balance out our striving in the other things.

Where do you find your enough?



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Nicodemus at Nite

posted January 22, 2010 at 9:16 am


You know I read this post and it was a great encouragement. I've been thinking a lot about these things, fulfillment and satisfaction.Some days as I'm driving my car to our spider infested basement apartment I'm feeling okay because I get to be with my wife and daughter. Other days I drive home complaining, wishing I was coming home from that $150,000 Gov't job, complaining and wanting the new Honda Element and a house. But the latter is so elusive, it's like, when you get those things, like you said, "Okay, got this, what's next?"My sister in law just came back from Haiti and was there during the earthquake. I'm thinking about those people who live on what? $1 or $2 a day? They must be looking at me thinking, "That guy is so filthy stinking rich, he makes $40,000 a year. And has 2 cars! Wow." My issue is in being content with what I have. What's enough for me? I don't know. I could lie and say, "My family." Which should be the case. But I know God is working on me to be content. Good post.nicodemusatnite.blogspot.com



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Kate

posted January 22, 2010 at 9:20 am


That's why I love the verse Matthew 6:33 "Seek ye first the kingdom of God, and His righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you." I think people are so off when people interpret the Biblical passages that talk about not being of this world. They suddenly put themselves in a bubble. They don't have anything to do with anything "secular." I don't think that is what God desires really. I think He wants us to be of a "kingdom" mindset. He doesn't want our value system to be the world's. He wants to be enough. Is it wrong to desire a better paying job, bigger house, etc? No. But it is wrong to find your only fulfillment in those things. It is so easy to get caught up in this world and it's value system. But, we have to remember our life is but a vapor, and it's all about Christ and His kingdom. I think a person will always find fulfillment if they seek Christ first. When you do that, other things don't seem to take as much effort or emptiness.



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Matt Brier

posted January 22, 2010 at 9:30 am


I posted my dream job yesterday and implied that I was already doing some of it outside of my real job. I realized a couple of years ago that regardless of the debt we are in and how long it will take to pay it off, the job I'm in is a blessing. I spent many years struggling with and trying to get out of this job. As I grew and as God grew me spiritually I realized this job is great. I'm not required to work much more than 40 hours. I have plenty of time for family, church, and friends. Plus the pay isn't bad. So I have a dream job of writing and working in radio, but I am content where I am if it never happens.



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Felicity

posted January 22, 2010 at 9:48 am


This is great, Jason. I'm sure you've at least skimmed Donald Miller's A MILLION MILES; it totally works this concept you describe from the perspective of what it takes to live a good story. Miller describes a similar situation in his own life, even after writing BLUE LIKE JAZZ – he realized he had met his life dream but still wasn't satisfied. Another thing that helped me with this was a comment from worship leaders Nathan and Christy Nockels. I grew up in the dawn of worship music's rise to stardom. I thought I wanted a piece of it. But in an interview I read, Nathan Nockels said something to the effect of, you know what worship leaders should do? They should lead worship. Just find a group of people who need someone to lead worship and do it with them. He was totally right. And so are you.



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Tess Mallory

posted January 22, 2010 at 10:36 am


Hey Jason! Well, I missed yesterday's blog, I'll have to go and check it out. As the published author of nine novels, I can tell you that I still have no sense of "having arrived". Actually I think my problem is that I have "arrived" at where I thought I wanted to be, but when I got here, after the first two books, the destination wasn't exactly what I thought it would be. Sort of always wanting to go to Paris and when you get there, discovering that, hey, it's a pretty city, but it's just a city. (not that I've been to Paris or know anything about it. It looks pretty cool!) So now I am trying to branch out and find a new destination for my writing, one that will make me feel more satisfaction with my chosen career. Will it bring me joy, wealth, fame, satisfaction? I think the last three are possible–through God's grace–though it hasn't happened yet! But the joy? Joy doesn't come from what we do, but from what we acknowledge as good in our lives. I don't think we ever get to a place where we go, "Okay, now I'm happy, everything is perfect," and stay there. Life is ever changing and moving and morphing into something else and we have to roll with it. (Yeah, that's how I roll! ha!) I'm amazed and impressed at what goal setting has done for you in your life! Makes me want to try it. I wish you'd write a blog (maybe you have) about setting goals. Some of us are pretty ignorant on the subject. Of course now that I want to change my destination, I still know that when I get there, I will be itching for the next trip. I think that's just people, especially creative people. We will never be truly satisfied with where we are, because there is always another mountain to climb, another piece of "art" to create. And I think that's the way God likes it, because He likes that creating stuff. That's why He does it so much. :)) So it's okay that we aren't "satisfied" as long as it doesn't become a misery. Dissatisfaction can sometimes be the catalyst that moves us forward. But we need to turn the word "dissatisfaction" into "motivation". :)



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scott jesko

posted January 22, 2010 at 10:54 am


I think judging on your past career dream success rate, your #12 should be for you and your office mate to hit the jackpot and retire in your mid 30's. I'm just say'n.



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Rachel H. Evans

posted January 22, 2010 at 12:19 pm


Great post, Jason. So I was corresponding with my agent the other day, and I sent her a list of questions, the last of which was: "So why didn't all my problems go away once I got a book deal?" :-) As it turns out, achieving my lifelong dream of getting published didn't magically turn me into a happier, thinner, and more secure person. And there's something strangely reassuring about that. Now I know that I don't have to wait to be happy. I don't have to have certain things or accomplish certain things to find meaning and purpose in life. We've all got the same unlimited access to the ultimate Source of joy. It's just a matter of choosing to tap into it. Now, this doesn't mean I've given up on selling more copies than you, Jason. :-)



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Jason Boyett

posted January 22, 2010 at 12:32 pm


There are two statements from commenters, so far, that I want to make sure everyone sees. Both happen to be from published authors.From Tess Mallory: We need to turn the word "dissatisfaction" into "motivation."From Rachel H. Evans: Now I know that I don't have to wait to be happy.Those are wise words. Let your dissatisfaction motivate you, but don't wait to be happy. Be happy now.@Rachel: You're on. The great Doubt Book Battle of 2010 begins.



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Lauren

posted January 22, 2010 at 1:34 pm


Ah, Jason, you're so good at giving career advice. In fact, it's been exactly a year since you politely encouraged me to reassess my dreams. (You know what I mean.) I liked what you said about how we dream of becoming. That's the way the main character (Amory Blaine) of my favorite book ("This Side of Paradise") is described: "Always, after he was in bed, there were voices—indefinite, fading, enchanting—just outside his window, and before he fell asleep he would dream one of his favorite waking dreams, the one about becoming a great half-back, or the one about the Japanese invasion, when he was rewarded by being made the youngest general in the world. It was always the becoming he dreamed of, never the being." I fear this for myself. I keep telling everyone that "when I grow up" I want to publish a literary magazine, but I know once that happens I'm going to wonder what's next. I'm not the type to stop dreaming dreams, but I'm afraid that I'm going to wake up one day with absolutely nothing to look forward to. (But I have faith that that won't and can't happen.)



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Mary @ Giving Up On Perfect

posted January 22, 2010 at 3:07 pm


Thank you. This was timely for me, and while I can't put all of the WHY into words right now, I wanted to say thank you.



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Melinda

posted January 22, 2010 at 4:00 pm


I don't really know the answer– i don't know where I find my "enough," but I've always been in a place where I completely enjoyed where I was at until it looked like it was time to leave. In any case, this sort of reminded me of a line by Rich Mullins, "Everyone I know says they need just one thing, but what they really mean is 'I need just one thing more…'"Learning to be satisfied with God as our "one thing" can seem like such a journey sometimes…



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Nicole

posted January 22, 2010 at 7:04 pm


Thanks so much for this post! It was exactly what I needed to hear today.



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jenny

posted January 24, 2010 at 6:51 pm


My enough is in the following, in no particular order:1. my relationship with God2. knowing that my husband stayed around after I was an unmitigated ass3. when I walk into my children's rooms, and watch them while they are sleeping4. when my son and I returned to the hospital where we almost lost him, but we were walking in, and he slid his hand into mine5. when my oldest daughter will call me on the phone, or just want to see me6. when my husband holds my hand7. when I hear my sons laugh8. when we travel as a family9. when I know I am doing what I am supposed to be doing10. when I see spiritual truth and growth in my childrenAlright, I know it all sounds dramatic and perhaps some of it silly. However, I have to say I have stood on the precipice of seeing my whole life come apart, and yet God pulled me out of it anyhow. So, I get a little deep about those thoughts, most days anymore.



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Matt @ The Church of No People

posted January 25, 2010 at 7:20 am


Thanks for sharing this. It's one thing to 'dream' about being a writer. It's entirely another to actually pursue being a writer. And besides that, even if we all became writers, none of us would be happy with it anyway.



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xumocitcn

posted January 28, 2014 at 4:00 am


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