Landing your Dream Job Will Not Make You Happy

jump! (http://www NULL.flickr NULL.com/photos/pdbratcher/4697075873/)

jump! (http://www NULL.flickr NULL.com/photos/pdbratcher/4697075873/) by ZalUk (http://www NULL.flickr NULL.com/photos/pdbratcher/)

Landing your dream job is the ultimate goal for many job seekers and they jump for joy when they get it. They think, for some reason, that the dream job itself is the end point rather than a part of the journey.

As Daniel Pink notes in his book, Drive (https://affiliate-program NULL.amazon NULL.com/gp/associates/network/build-links/individual/simple-get-html NULL.html?ie=UTF8&assoc_ss_ref=http%3A%2F%2Fwww NULL.amazon NULL.com%2Fgp%2Fproduct%2F1594488843%3Fie%3DUTF8%26ref_%3Dsr_1_1%26s%3Dbooks%26qid%3D1276543734%26sr%3D8-1&asin=1594488843&parentASIN=1594488843):

Those who said they were attaining their goals–accumulating wealth, winning acclaim–reported levels of satisfaction, self-esteem,and positive affect no higher than when they were students. In other words, they’d reached their goals, but it didn’t make them any happier. What’s more, graduates with profit goals showed increases in anxiety, depression and other negative indicators–again, even though they were attaining their goals.

When I discussed these results with Deci and Ryan, they were especially emphatic about their significance–because the findings suggest that even when we do get what we want, it’s not always what we need. “People who are very high in extrinsic goals for wealth are more likely to attain that wealth, but they’re still unhappy,” Ryan told me.

Extrinsic goals for attaining your dream job won’t make you happy

Getting the job just for the pay, just the title, or the promotion won’t in and of itself make you any happier than you are right now. Unless you understand why you love the work (http://www NULL.wisebread NULL.com/the-first-step-to-finding-your-dream-job)and how the dream job will help you get the work you love, you won’t be any happier just because the dream job came along.

It is one of the reasons I spend so much time in the book ensuring that as you become successful in your job in the company’s eyes, you are also examining if the job is really right for you and what you do.

If you don’t know why taking a job will help you achieve your intrinsic goals, you can get the work, but not be very happy. It is one of the conundrums in today’s workplace: we should feel extremely lucky that we even have a job (so companies tell us) when the fact of the matter is many of us are completely unhappy doing what we are doing.

Driving towards extrinsic goals–salary, title, prestige–may come about, but the research says if you reach those extrinsic goals, you still won’t be happy.

Vote for happy. It will help your well being.

Dream Job-What to find out at your first meeting with your manager

265/365: Ball Pit Conference Room (http://www NULL.flickr NULL.com/photos/if_winter_ends/4623510796/)

265/365: Ball Pit Conference Room (http://www NULL.flickr NULL.com/photos/if_winter_ends/4623510796/) by if winter ends (http://www NULL.flickr NULL.com/photos/if_winter_ends/)

Dream jobs start off with meeting your manager. After the obligatory introductions, the first meeting with your new boss on your dream job is a little scary. You don’t know each other that well leading to some apprehension (http://www NULL.foxandthefirefly NULL.com/component/content/article/3-health-articles/15). You don’t feel like sounding dumb with the questions you ask and your new manager can feel overwhelmed by all the information to present.

How do your start your dream job off right?

Begin with your department

You were hired to do a specific job in the manager’s area, so the first area of focus needs to be understanding what your group does, what other departments it interacts with and how it is measured.

Start with the functions in the department; what is the work the entire group does, not just what you are supposed to do. Listen for all the interactions you will have with others on your team to get your work done. Listen for how the department is measured as it is your first clue as to how well the business can measure progress. Like your progress, for example.

Don’t worry too much about the people in your group just yet, although they will come up (“John takes care of all the reporting for us….”). Instead, focus on the functions performed in the department and how they fit together. Work on what the work flows are within your group. Not everyone will interact with everyone else, but you should clearly see why the organization was put together as it was.

The rest of the company organization

From your group, move on to how your department interacts with all the other areas on the organization chart. If you are in a Fortune 500 company, you could very well only interact within a single company division. Or, in a smaller company, you could interact with everyone in the company (http://abcbusinesssuccessblog NULL.businessconsultingabc NULL.com/2010/05/24/common-family-business-issues-and-conflicts/).

The key is to functionally understand what organizations provide work input to your group, what your team does with the input, and then where your work output is sent (http://corporatedeathspiral NULL.blogspot NULL.com/2010/05/satisfying-internal-customers-its-still NULL.html) once completed.

You need to get the functional work flow right

A key to successfully building your skills in your dream job is to understand how the work flows. This work flow gives you a greater context about the work you do and how your work impacts others. Without understanding these relationships, you’ll always be ignoring some important input to your work, ticking your coworkers off for not getting what they need from you completed and have customers wonder why you were picked for this dream job in the first place.

Right off the bat, have your manager work with you on understanding the organizations you work with. And you know what? Not only will it help your understanding of your new work flow, it will also give you the first look at what your manager knows about your work and how the department provides value to the company.

Wouldn’t you want to know how your department adds value to the company? Yeah, me too.

Dream Jobs and Chaos-How to Cope

One my beta testers for the book loved all of the advice in the book–but then had an incredibly difficult time to implement what was in the book because the dream job turned out to be a chaotic nightmare (http://www NULL.curemyanxiety NULL.com/Job-Anxiety-and-Work-Stress NULL.htm). Still a great job, but nothing you would expect out of a job was ready.

Her manager wasn’t ready with goals; he didn’t know what they were yet because the function was new in the company. She had a tough time figuring out who the real customers were of her work, much less identifying stakeholders. And the people in her work flow were also new and not much in regards to process was up and running.

And even though I suggest taking quite a long time for a review after the first week (it can take up to six hours…), she was understandably totally wiped out after the first week to even think about doing a review.

In other words, work was chaos.

Chaos makes the book even more important

What does chaos really mean? Everything in motion, nothing nailed down, what you think you know isn’t really what you know and what you know changes all the time. There is nothing to anchor you (http://ask NULL.metafilter NULL.com/150182/New-job-anxiety) or to ground you in your work.

Even if you enter this type of environment in your new job, you can still establish the structure you need to anchor you in your work despite the chaos around you. Eventually, you need to nail down your goals from your manager, learn the strengths and weaknesses of your team, figure out who the stakeholders are and what you need to deliver to your customer.

Those needs don’t go away just because the place is nuts (http://www NULL.trumpuniversity NULL.com/blog/post/2005/12/do-you-work-for-a-difficult-boss NULL.cfm).

But you can take all of that swirling around you and start to put the information you get into the categories you need to complete that the book provides.

Eliminate chaos through identifying what you do and don’t know

The example I use in the book about what you need to pay attention to is this: you don’t pay any attention to electricity. Unless when you go use something that needs power, the electricity doesn’t work. Now your entire day is filled with what to do until the electricity comes back on. And until it comes back on, you can’t really move forward.

Your job is like that too. Until you nail down what you know and how to prioritize it in the new job, everything is important. If you don’t know enough about something presented to you — like everything on your new job — then you don’t know what lurks behind the request. You don’t know if you agree to something that it really means what you agreed to plus a whole lot more that the culture, which you don’t yet know, expects you to do.

Hidden expectations coupled with the inability to prioritize anything leads to one thing: stress. And over time, people will leave (http://findarticles NULL.com/p/articles/mi_m3495/is_5_50/ai_n13721406/).

So the key to eliminating chaos and stress in your work is to nail down what you think you know about the job and turn that into electricity: this works, let’s move on to the next thing.

The importance of the weekly review

In a new job, the way you nail down what you know and what you still need to find out is done through reviewing your work. You may not have enough time or energy to do a complete review as outlined in the book, but any review time on the bigger topics or even using the same amount of time on a single topic will relieve a great amount of stress.

Your start to build the blocks of what you are pretty sure you know about the job so you can put that into its proper place in your priorities and move on to the next.

Turn the dream job chaos into structure

All jobs have the common components outlined in the book. The rest is focus, timing and review. Just because your manager doesn’t know what goals to give you yet doesn’t mean you don’t need to worry about your goals. You do, because the prioritize and focus your work.

Use the book to turn the chaos of your dream job into structure. Hey, you at least might as well start building the job out right. What’s that saying? If you can keep your head while others all around you are losing theirs…

Dream Jobs-The missing group you need to succeed

Middle office (http://www NULL.flickr NULL.com/photos/ethanhein/4188173964/)

Middle office (http://www NULL.flickr NULL.com/photos/ethanhein/4188173964/) by Ethan Hein (http://www NULL.flickr NULL.com/photos/ethanhein/)

Some client work for my Omnigraffle portfolio. An example of stakeholder mapping.

Dream jobs have people who are stakeholders: people who have a vested interest in your work, but are not your customer. Because they are not your customer, your manager, or your coworker, stakeholders tend to be ignored.

That can be a killer when starting out in your new dream job. Here’s why.

Dream job stakeholders can help you understand your customer

The reason stakeholders are stakeholders is because your work indirectly impacts them in their work. Since they are impacted by your work but also work with your customer, stakeholders are in a unique position to help you understand what you need to do to best serve your customer through your work.

Stakeholders can protect you

You wouldn’t normally choose to have a manager that wasn’t right for you. But you can get a poor manager as the result of a corporate reorganization and there you go. All of a sudden, the management changes and they changes for you are not good. Having managers running around spouting off about the poor work of someone on their team (like you, poor work or not) is bad. Really bad.

Stakeholders, though, can shut this kind of trash talk down. They can defend your work in management meetings and can offer the view of the customer. Consequently, it is vital to enlist the support of stakeholders early in taking on the new position.

Stakeholders expand your business network

An important aspect of managing your career is building out your business network. This helps you help others in their business needs, but also gives you an important window into other opportunities. Starting out at a new company means your business network there consists of your manager and coworkers. That limits you to your immediate group and you completely miss anything going on outside of your immediate group.

Stakeholders can help get you out of this minimal business network so that you can expand your reach inside the company. In larger companies, this reach is important as it gives you the ability to consider positions in the company as they come up with stakeholder support.

Stakeholders are the lost constituency when starting your dream job

When starting your dream job, there is so much focus on doing your work, learning about your manager and coworkers and pleasing customers that stakeholders get lost. Yet stakeholders provide you a base outside of your immediate department and can provide critical insights into the company, your team and your customers.

Go look for stakeholders to help you solidify your dream job.

Dream Jobs Require Leadership

Wonderful Dublin, fine impression of the capital of Ireland, taken in early 2010, with love and so much more...:) (http://www NULL.flickr NULL.com/photos/uggboy/4405805408/)

Wonderful Dublin, fine impression of the capital of Ireland, taken in early 2010, with love and so much more…:) (http://www NULL.flickr NULL.com/photos/uggboy/4405805408/) by UggBoy ( have fun doing it ) (http://www NULL.flickr NULL.com/photos/uggboy/)

How long has it been since you started a dream job?

If you are a grizzly old veteran of the work force, you probably don’t think too much about the person starting their first day on their dream job. Been there, done that.

But remember the feelings you had when you started that first day (http://leadertalk NULL.mountainstate NULL.edu/2010/02/think-about-your-first-job NULL.html), long ago? Maybe it wasn’t your dream job, but it was new. Exciting. Nerve-racking. Sweaty palms stuff.

Praying you hadn’t just made a huge mistake by taking this dream job. Thankful that you finally were able to get a dream job.

Most of all, you were hopeful. Hopeful that you’d like the work. Like the manager. Like your coworkers — and they would like you. Hopeful that all those horrible stories about managers and companies wouldn’t come true at this gig. Hopeful that you could focus on your work and not on the politics. Hopeful that what you thought was a dream job would actually be your dream job.

Do you remember hopeful? I do. And so does the person starting their new dream job.

Leaders encourage newcomers on their dream job

Everyone can be a leader. There is nothing more helpful to a new person starting their dream job than giving encouragement that he or she made the right decision. That he or she is welcomed into the group.

Starting a new dream job means everything is new. Everything is different — even if it is a different job in the same company.

Leaders reassure people and are curious about newcomers lives. They are interested in people as people. They look for ways to find common ground (http://humanresources NULL.about NULL.com/od/involvementteams/a/team_culture NULL.htm).

Leaders offer hope.

Leaders help find value

In the book, ‘I’ve Landed My Dream Job — Now What???’ I talk through the need for individuals starting out in their dream job to start determining their unique value to the team.

Left unsaid is that everyone should try and help the new employee determine their unique value to the team. It makes the team stronger and able to handle higher levels of work (http://www NULL.brianmac NULL.co NULL.uk/articles/scni13a2 NULL.htm). Managers should have some idea of how the new employee can help the team — the manager should start to determine if what he or she thought was accurate.

While companies can think employees are a commodity to use to achieve their goals, managers and coworkers should know that the strongest teams will survive the longest — and thrive in good conditions.

But instead of helping an individual figure out their unique value to the team, too often we just keep doing what we do and let the new person figure it all out. Much better to help determine the unique value to the team — it makes the team stronger. Sure, the new person has to prove his or her value to the team, but encouragement and support will go a long way to help.

Being on a team is a two-way street

Business is social, of course. Meeting new people, getting to know them and helping them figure out what needs figuring out is tough for some people. If you are on a team, you can help yourself and your team by offering encouragement and help (http://www NULL.aetc NULL.af NULL.mil/news/story NULL.asp?id=123192675) to someone just starting their dream job.

It will help confirm their best hopes for the job.