You have finally landed your dream job in a well-regarded firm. The position matches your skills and career goals perfectly. It even pays well. Yet, you dread showing up to work.

There is a whole lot of advice out there aimed at helping up-and-coming candidates land the job of their dreams. But what do you do when the reality doesn’t match up to the dream?

In practice, most jobs are far from perfect. Every position in a firm comes with it’s ups and downs, its own set of opportunities, challenges, and personality conflicts. Fantasies can quickly give way to the responsibilities, workload, corporate culture, or career projections that you may not have been expecting. Or, perhaps the expectations more or less match up, but you start the job and quickly find out that you just don’t like the work/projects/culture.

Of course there is nothing wrong with having career goals or even an ideal job in mind. Just don’t be lulled into thinking that once you obtain this position, you will necessarily have a clear career path ahead of you.


Waking Up From the Dream

So what do you do when you have already achieved the job of your dreams and it falls flat- especially if you made major sacrifices to pursue it? How do you re-set your career?

You basically have three options:

  1. Cut your losses- Move on to another firm
  2. Grin and bear it- Try to make it work with your current job
  3. Dig for gold- Seek out internal, high-potential opportunities that are suited to your strengths

Obviously, there is no one right way, nor one-size-fits all solution. But before you can take action, you need to figure out where the real issues lie. Are you frustrated by the firm’s leadership who does not seem to recognise your potential, or do you feel that your work is not challenging enough? Perhaps you do not like where the firm is heading. Trying to pinpoint where things are going off will help you to identify which actions to take going forward.

In the end, you may come to the conclusion that you didn’t do enough research on the firm during the interview process, or maybe your career goals were not realistic, or perhaps you will uncover new strengths and passions you didn’t know you had.


Creating a Career of Your Dreams

When you start focusing on personal development and playing up your strengths instead of trying to follow the defined path that someone else decided for you, your whole concept of career development changes.

It’s what Whitney Johnson refers to as “an era of accelerating disruption” where opportunity, new skill mastery, innovation, and personal growth fuel productivity and happiness and give the person a real competitive advantage. According the Johnson, you alone have the power to create the career of your dreams by taking the right risks, enhancing your distinctive strengths, embracing limitations and failure, and even having the foresight and courage to step back in your career path in order to grow.

In the end you have the freedom to look for the most promising internal and external opportunities. Maybe there is a better fit for you somewhere else in the firm or perhaps you are applying for the wrong position in the first place. The point is though a nightmare job may leave you feeling like you want to shut your eyes and run away, you really need to be doing the opposite.

Keep your eyes open. There are opportunities all around you. You just need to have the courage and the insight to see them.