Do Dream Jobs Really Exist?

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More than four out of ten thirtysomething professionals want to change careers, but feel trapped and don't believe that they will, a new study shows.

More thirtysomethings than ever before are feeling disillusioned with their careers and openly acknowledge that they'd like to move into something more rewarding and fulfilling. They admit to a number of factors that prevent them from doing so ? a third of people said that a potential drop in salary going into a new career would stop them from changing, a quarter said that they lack the confidence to change and a further quarter admitted to having no clear direction.

The research (conducted by website polled over four hundred thirtysomethings in the UK and USA, and found that the time when people are most likely to look at changing careers is from the age of 30 to 32. The survey also found that a third of those polled don't value what they do for work, and six out of ten feel say that their work doesn't add positively to their health and wellbeing.

"There are a worrying number of people feeling trapped by their jobs," says Steve Errey, a specialist in thirtysomething careers, "growing numbers are experiencing stress and in extreme cases making themselves ill as a result."

The poll supports that view by finding that 3 out of 10 people are negatively affected by very high levels of stress in the workplace. That's a worrying number, and with workplace stress becoming more commonplace employers are having to take more responsibility for the wellbeing of their employees. "Those employers who take a realistic and holistic look at the lives of their employees will be able to retain the skills and talents they've got. Organisations that don't take this seriously are going to run into big problems." says Errey.

But individuals have to take responsibility for their own careers to ensure they get what they want. "People think of their work as something that they have to do, something they have to put up with, or they tell themselves to 'stick it out and see what happens', but life really is too short to waste your time in a job that you know isn't working for you."

Steve knows that cost himself, having gone through a 'quarter-life crisis' himself caused by stress from being in the wrong job. "I was so busy telling myself that I was alright doing what I was doing and that I couldn't do anything else, that I became ill as a result. Now I know that I can never squeeze myself into a job or a role that I know isn't who I am or what I'm about." says Steve.

Julie was a thirtysomething director of her own successful company, "I went to see Steve because I found myself getting depressed about my career. I was so unhappy and frustrated, but felt like I'd made a rod for my own back and couldn't see a way to change things.

"Getting an external perspective with Steve made me see that I did have choices and we came up with all kinds of ways to get on and make some changes. It took time and effort, and it was a huge challenge, but I've now got a great role in a company that I used to dream about working for. My life has turned round because I'm doing work that I love and my only regret is that I didn't move sooner."

Errey says there are three broad steps in changing your work situation and having career fulfilment. "First of all it's vital that you take a personal inventory of everything that you've got. I'm talking about your experience, knowledge, skills, talents, passions, ambitions and resources, and acknowledging everything you've got to offer. If you don't know what you've got to offer how's anyone else supposed to find out?

"Then it's a case of getting clarity around what you want career-wise, thinking about what lights you up in work and how you want to feel about your career. Ask questions about whether you want to move jobs or companies, or transform your current job. Think about what hours you want to work, if you want to work alone, in a team or from home. In answering questions like these you'll see patterns starting to take shape. It's those patterns that you can then start working with."

Errey believes that people focus too much on job titles and try to match themselves to jobs based on the title alone. "Instead create your job from the inside out by thinking about the qualities, activities, guidelines, boundaries and feelings you want to have, and then you can match that picture to different areas of work.

"Finally, like most things in life, it's about getting out there and making things happen. Speak to people, use your network of friends, family, colleagues and peers to see what opportunities are out there. 8 out of 10 people land their new job through a personal contact, not an advertisement, so this is the best way to learn about and pursue opportunities. You can also do things like apply speculatively to those companies you'd love to work with, research different fields of work or fill a skills gap with some training.

"People can easily have three or four different careers in a lifetime these days, and it's important to remember that you're never truly stuck anywhere until you believe that you are."

About the Author
Steve Errey specialises in personal growth for thirtysomethings, works with people on their careers, relationships and confidence and helps them get more fun, fulfilment and freedom. For more information please contact Steve on 0845 644 3001, by email at or visit his website at

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