Dream Jobs Won’t Make You Happy

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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:

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 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.

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