3 Steps to Determining Your Dream Job

A lot of us have a hard time deciding what our dream job even is. Here's a way to figure it out.

As kids, we are told life is a boundless journey and that anything is possible. Every day is an energizing experience as we explored new things, and learned new ideas. Our minds were filled with clear thoughts, and a clear direction on how we were going to take over the world. We wanted to be missionaries or artists. We wanted to write novels or make films. We wanted to study.

Fast forward 20 years later. What happened to that dream we were so passionate about?

The obvious answer is that we grew up. The security from family slowly eroded into student loans, bills and so-called reality. With that, we sacrificed our dreams—our happiness—for some vague idea of “success” or “security.” Getting a steady job with a decent salary, some benefits, and a cool title gradually replaced any passion-driven dream. Being a missionary became impractical. Being an artist seemed too risky. A novel, too daunting. School, too expensive.

If you don’t like what you’re doing right now, pinpoint exactly what you dislike in your current situation and do everything you can to fix it.

We all swore it wouldn’t happen to us. Yet for many of us, it has. We still have our passion to know God and do what He’s made us to do but, after that, it gets fuzzy.

We were meant for better. In fact, you were created for something more than mere “success”. So let’s get back to the real versions of us. Let’s become who we were meant to be.

This is a simple process and—contrary to popular belief—the less emotional the better. If you don’t like what you’re doing right now, pinpoint exactly what you dislike in your current situation and do everything you can to fix it.

Too often, we are quick to jump ship, as opposed to fixing the problems with our current state. Who knows, maybe once you fix the problem(s) you will be exactly where you need to be to accomplish your dreams. The grass is only green where you water it.

However, if things seem destined to fail, it’s probably time to move on. Ask yourself if you are simply trying to make an excuse for why you’re not happier with your life, or if you’re truly trying to move toward a greater purpose. If it is the latter of the two, you are ready to take the next step.

When it comes to choosing our dream job, we usually ask ourselves, “What do I like to do? What am I good at?” Or, “What makes me happy?” Some people even make lists of what they are good and bad at, and then try to mathematically decide on what they should do.

None of this is wrong. These are good and valid questions to ask so we can understand more about ourselves. On the other hand, these questions may leave us more confused than when we started. Once we travel down that rabbit hole, we tend to find there are many things we like to spend our time doing. Subsequently, we are overwhelmed with deciding which activity to pick as our craft.

There is an easy, more effective, process to find an answer.

Full disclosure: this only works when we commit to being completely honest with ourselves. No one is listening, so don’t say what you think the right answer is. Equally as important, we must get into the correct state of mind. So here we go.

First, get to a place where you’re far away from any stress. Forget about your student loans, other bills, the judgments of others and anything else that might be standing in your way for the moment. Whatever your current situation—good or bad—it doesn’t matter right now. None of that will help you get a clear answer. You don’t want your passion to just be a negative reaction to your current state.

Second, ask yourself, “What impact do I want to have on the world?” In other words, what do you want the byproduct of your results to be? Start with the end in mind, and work backwards from that. Like a road map, if you know where you’re going, you can plan how to get there. For me, the answer is to add value to people’s lives through leading by example. Yours could be anything else. That’s the point. Don’t judge any of your answers, but approach them prayerfully too.

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ask yourself “If you could do anything in the world and be instantly good at it, what would you do?” The answer is your passion.

Third, ask yourself “If I could do anything in the world and be instantly good at it, what would I do?” The answer is your passion. There may be more than one result, and that’s perfectly fine. There’s no rule that says God only gives one career passion to each person. With your options, pick one and go. There is absolutely no wrong decision here. Chances are, when you pursue your first passion whole-heartedly, you’ll be able to incorporate your second passion later in life.

Transitioning into the last and final step, understand that you can accomplish your dream. At first glance it will seem daunting and frankly, scary. But look at it this way: worst case scenario, you pursue your passion and dreams and fall short three years later. Where does that leave you? Miles ahead of where you were when you started. You’ve met new people, learned life lessons and expanded your comfort zone. Best of all, you tried. You didn’t just fall in line and take the safe road. You did the one thing no one else is doing, and you made it your own. That is a rare and notable accomplishment.

One final note: if money is your goal, this exercise for true passion will not be very effective. Money can be a little important as it allows you to explore certain things in this life. However, it is not very much. From this point forward, commit to viewing money as just the byproduct of your effort and attitude towards accomplishing your true passion.

The more positive your attitude, and the more effort you give to the world, the more opportunity the world has to give back. There is no better day than today.


Jim Hale


Jim Hale commented…

I appreciate the author but must also, respectfully, disagree. The majority of the world works tirelessly to make a day's income and never has the luxury to even consider working out of their passions. In fact this is a question that has really only been able to surface in the last few decades for a very small percentage of people. I think it is a diversion that disctracts us. To daydream about the perfect job or the perfect spouse or the perfect (fill in the blank) confuses our mandate to do justly, love mercy, and walk humbly with our God. It can even sow ungreatfulness and discontentment. Faithfulness in what you do is far more important than what you do for a living. It is faithfulness that builds our character and leads to a life characterized by happiness, self-worth, and an ability to be salt and light to a needy world. But I loved your comment about watering the grass! A wonderful statement.

Judy Lovejoy


Judy Lovejoy commented…

While it's true that the Bible does issue a general call to faith, faithfulness, justice and humility, etc., there are also examples in the scripture in which God clearly invests passions and gifts in individuals that are attached to very personal callings. One such passage (which the "creative type" in me finds particularly encouraging and affirming) is found in Exodus 31:

"Then the Lord said to Moses, “See, I have chosen Bezalel son of Uri, the son of Hur, of the tribe of Judah, and I have filled him with the Spirit of God, with wisdom, with understanding, with knowledge and with all kinds of skills— to make artistic designs for work in gold, silver and bronze, to cut and set stones, to work in wood, and to engage in all kinds of crafts. Moreover, I have appointed Oholiab son of Ahisamak, of the tribe of Dan, to help him. Also I have given ability to all the skilled workers to make everything I have commanded you . . ."

In this passage we see evidence that God, by His own testimony, can and does gift (at least some) people for very specific work. And while one could argue (and I'd agree) that His plans for every person may not be as overtly directed, I do think this example from scripture does lend credibility to the idea that God can and does gift people for special work that He knows will accomplish His purposes AND bring them joy.

THAT, I believe, is what the author is encouraging people to find and do, and I don't think any of that is in conflict with our general calls to faith, faithfulness, justice and humility, etc. It doesn't have to be an "either/or" proposition. I prefer to think of it as "both/and."

David Rupert


David Rupert commented…

think some of the problems with this and similar thinking is the unrealistic and unhealthy link between passion and career. Some of us get lucky -- or blessed -- and our career is our passion. But that is a small percentage. As Jim Hale comments above, the vast majority of the world works to survive and not pursue a passion.

If you have a passion -- then do it. And do it for free. Don't expect to be paid for your writing, your art, your sculpture, or your love for children. Don't depend on compensation to make the thing you love happen. Work for a living and then with your evenings and weekends pursue what you love.

And who knows, one day, the working world and the passionate worlds might just come together.

Check out the good reads at www.TheHighCalling.org to find a balanced approach to this.

David R., www.RedLetterBelievers.com

Paul Sohn


Paul Sohn replied to David Rupert's comment

You're right David. In most instances, there may be a misalignment with your dream and calling.

Paul Sohn


Paul Sohn commented…

An indispensable part of finding your dream is discovering your "Holy Discontent." Bill Hybels describe it as uneasy spirit about the brokenness of this world which aligns with the heart of God that spurs us to take positive action to change the world. For Moses – it was the misery of God’s people. For David – it was Goliath trash-talking His God and his people. For Nehemiah, it was people mocking God. When we truly align our God-given talents and needs of the world, a "holy discontent" is found and serves as a platform to pursue your dream and calling. Here's a practical way to learn how to discover your holy discontent: http://paulsohn.org/find-your-holy-discontent/

Christian Newkind


Christian Newkind commented…

I would ask respectfully to all the "realistic" ones who posted here, to give a few examples of people whose biographies are worth reading and who followed their dreams or calling on weekends or spare time. I repeat, I ask respectfully. I'm curious, because I can't think of one.

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