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Get real about your dream job

What makes people happy isn't whether they have a high-profile or high-income position, but whether they are doing work they feel is important and gives them a sense of satisfaction

Do you know what your dream job is? Do you really understand all that it involves or are you only focusing on the good parts? Too often people pursue high-profile careers without taking into account the downsides and write off potentially great careers as settling for second best. Here are some things to think about before deciding what your dream job is.

Glamour industry = ruthless competition

Who wants to be a famous actor, rock star or sporting legend? Well, just about everyone, which is exactly the problem. Many people believe their dream job involves working in a glamour industry without realising millions of others feel the same way.

The end result of a lot of people chasing very few rewards is intense competition for even entry-level jobs, and very long odds of reaching the top of the industry in question. For example, the overwhelming majority of actors, musicians and professional athletes have poorly paid and insecure employment with only a fortunate few enjoying the kind of showbiz lifestyle the media provides so much coverage of.

Lots of money = lots of stress

Whether you're a CEO or brain surgeon, the way the labour market functions means that those who earn large salaries also have to meet large demands. If you're happy to work 80 hours a week, travel frequently, miss out on important family occasions, shoulder lots of workplace responsibility and be on call 24/7 in order to rake in the big bucks, that's fine. But don't imagine you can earn an above-average wage without an above-average workload.

Fulfilling work = dream job

Researchers have consistently found that what makes people happy isn't whether they have a high-profile or high-income position, but whether they are doing work they feel is important and gives them a sense of satisfaction. That's the reason it's not uncommon for people to walk away from what are widely considered dream jobs to do work that's less celebrated.

To take just one famous example, Bill Gates walked away from running one of the world's largest and most successful corporations to set up and oversee a charitable foundation – granted, that was after he made his billions.

So pursue your dream job by all means, just don't be too quick to decide exactly what it might be. If you are looking for a career change, there is a wide variety of courses available at TAFE NSW.