The Internet will tell you to follow your bliss and live your best life. You may have even heard the saying that it’s not work if you love what you do. That might sound like great career advice, but it turns out scientists don’t necessarily agree. Here’s the startling truth about dream jobs, according to science.
You Can’t Always Get What You Want
The Rolling Stones may have said it first, but it’s true: you can’t always get what you want because sometimes you don’t know what that is in advance.
Choosing a job you feel will make you happy sounds like a great idea in theory. But the reality is dream jobs often don’t meet those rosy expectations. Research has shown most people just aren’t good at predicting what will actually make them happy. Careers aren’t an exception to that rule.
Does that mean you shouldn’t train for a career you think you’ll enjoy? Absolutely not! Just move forward with an open mind. It is one consideration for narrowing down career options, but it shouldn’t be the only factor on your list.
Money Buys Less Happiness Than You Think
Many people will happily tell you that money doesn’t buy happiness, but anyone who has struggled financially knows that can be a silly statement. It’s easier to be happy when your bills are paid, there’s a roof over your head, and your belly is full.
Still, money isn’t the only outcome to chase. Scientists have found that money does make you happier — but only a little. The ultimate truth is that higher pay only slightly impacts job satisfaction after a certain point.
Choosing a career based on how much you’ll make may seem like a practical way to make this important decision, but it might not make you much happier than if you were working a lesser-paying job. There are other variables that are far more important than salary when it comes to your happiness — like work-life balance.
The Atmosphere Can Matter More Than the Work
You could have the job of your dreams and work that is both fulfilling and makes you ridiculously happy, and still, hate your job. All it takes is one bad apple in the form of a boss or colleague to sour the experience.
A toxic work environment can ruin the best of jobs. Conversely, a great work environment can make even the dullest work better.
Researchers say you don’t need to consider everyone at work a friend to be happy. You just need to have colleagues you can rely on for support as needed. Studies prove that social support in the form of both peer and superior relationships can increase job satisfaction.
The big takeaway here is simple: it’s important to ask about the company’s culture in your job interviews. You could also find that you discover your dream job through a positive and supportive work environment.
How to Follow Your Dreams, According to Science
Sure, modern society will tell you that if you reach for the stars and follow your dreams, you’ll live happily ever after. Science, however, says there are more important elements that influence how happy you feel in your chosen career. They include choosing work that interests you, finding a higher purpose in what you do for a living, building positive social support, and being able to find a work/life balance.
You’ll want to see how a job’s benefits fit your needs, how the schedule lines up with your home or outside work commitments, and how good you feel about the work that you do. All these factors combine to influence the way you view your career. Your idea of a dream job may not match the reality, but if you keep trying, you may find a perfect fit in the place where you least expect it.
Scientists aren’t saying you shouldn’t be happy with your work or select a career you’re passionate about. Instead, they offer research that shows finding your dream job takes more than imagination. Who knows, maybe you find the work you were clearly meant to do on your first attempt. Maybe you stumble into it blindly, or perhaps you need to search a little. You just need to get out there and give it a try.