Dream Careers Are Not a Fantasy

Dream Careers Are Not a Fantasy
The blog, Happiest Jobs for the Graduating Class of 2014, mentions “do what you love” and just as quickly dismisses it as being “so simple”. This is typical of what I am seeing when recruiters like CareerBliss talk about being happy at work. Admittedly, the concept of doing what you love is simple, however how to do it is anything but.

The article goes on to talk about happiness at work mentioning factors such as supportive managers and professional growth opportunities and then they ranked the jobs in which “young professionals are happiest.” While I admit that these are important characteristics to a good job, they do not address what the person is actually doing at work, which I see as the key component to happiness in the workplace.

I believe the reason so many people dismiss ‘passion’ and ‘love’ for work so quickly because these words seem so fluffy and idealistic. They attribute people who focus on these ideas as dreamers who are spoiled and who don’t want to face the real world.

Why do we do that? Why do we automatically link soft goals with fantasy and hard goals with down-to-earth realism? It is because we have been trained to think in black and white terms. It makes it so much easier to classify people and things in life but it becomes the easy way out. We need robust innovative thinking if we want to change the awful results we are getting from workplace measurements.

In a survey conducted by the Occupational Stress Research Institute, 65% said they were not satisfied with their work. Of this group, 80% said that it wasn’t the company that they worked for. Rather, they just didn’t feel that they were in a job that fit them well.

Dream careers

Some of the factors measured in work satisfaction surveys are “outside” based references such as:

  • respect from others
  • encouragement and rewards received
  • opportunities for professional growth
  • understanding your expectations and
  • base pay

However it is the very nature of looking outside of yourself for esteem and validation that causes dissatisfaction. More than anything else it is this notion that leads to work dissatisfaction. Here’s why: when someone does get the external validation or respect they so want, this sets up a vicious loop where they want more of the same or else they begin feeling distraught. The same applies for chasing anything else external: money, promotions, respect.

I am not saying that those factors are not important. I am saying they should come second to pleasing yourself. When you are in a career you love you will have purpose and you will feel validated because you believe from a deep place within that you are doing something important. You don’t need others to tell you as much.

In the January 17, 2005 Special Issue of Time Magazine, “reference anxiety” is defined as the somebody-nobody anxiety, where one defines their worth in reference to someone else. The fact is that everyone has intrinsic worth. We need to start from where our esteem begins – on the inside. But how do we do that? So many speakers and gurus speak about “doing what you love”, but very few show you how.

In my private practice I see many distraught Millennials who are frustrated by this. I do not find them lazy or entitled. They want to work in a career with a higher purpose and want to learn how they can do it. In our first session together I speak enthusiastically about Dream Careers and just as quickly dispel the notion that “Dream” equals “fantasy”. I tell them that this discovery process takes work, which I find most are more than willing to do. I then guide them in a strategic proprietary discovery process, which leads them to their own unique Dream Career.

A significant source of frustration and stress is getting into a career that doesn’t reflect who you are as a person. This discovery process not only leads you to discover your Dream Career but along the way, helps you to discover who you are as a person.


The real mantra to improve happiness at work shouldn’t be, “Do what you love“, it should read, “Do what you are” because in reality they are one in the same. tweet


It has been shown in numerous studies that doing what you love brings inner satisfaction, a life purpose, better health, improved relationships and a host of other benefits. Let’s stop belittling people’s passions because we don’t understand how to help people find it. Instead, let’s begin the work of guiding people to their Dream Careers and help them make it happen.

As an emergency medicine doctor, Sam Gerstein witnessed the toll work stress takes on the body. After years of research he published Live Your Dreams: Doctor’s Orders, revealing how people overcame their fears to create the work they love. He transitioned into his Dream Career of psychotherapy and career coaching. He enjoys dancing, coaching hockey and life with his family.

2 thoughts on “Dream Careers Are Not a Fantasy

  1. 2nd July 2015



    Hi, Sam. Great article, and I agree with your point of “do what you are” in the work i do with my own clients as a career counsellor and, a view I take with myself and my work. Thank you for sharing…I am interested in looking into your book! I will add, that everytime I read an article about work, passion, dreams etc, I am always reminded of another article that approaches these things with caution concerning privilege and “dream” jobs. The article is if you are interested in reading it. It was eye opening for me and a good reminder about the realities of working persons who do not have the time, resources, health, and other privileges that allow them to recognize and move toward doing what they love, and it calls attention to those workers who do necessary jobs and get financial and other rewards from them, but perhaphs not the intrinsic rewards that you and I both do.

    • 16th July 2015

      Your Workplace


      Jill, that article made a great point about doing what you love being a privilege to few, really made me think and actually reminded me of this video I watched a few months back. It talks about privilege, but illustrates it in such a fascinating way. Here is the link:

speak Your Mind