Here's the bottom line: many people work in jobs that aren't what they want or are less than they deserve.
It's partly the pull of inertia (better the devil you know...)and partly lack of confidence, but mostly the fear their dream job doesn't exist -- or they couldn't land it if it does.
Most settle for second or third (or fourth, or fifth) best and try to get on with their lives, secretly cherishing thedream of something better.
It doesn't have to be like that. You can take practical steps toturn that dream into reality. Here are some practical steps that to send you on your way.
1. Look for "Upgrade Roles"
Upgrade Roles act as stepping stones towards your dream position, moving you forward -- maybe not all the way -- while you continue looking for that dream position. Think of them as steps on the ladder.
2. Keep up Your Enthusiasm
If the right opportunity comes up, you need to be ready. Thatmeans building your resume and polishing your track record tomake you the obvious choice It also means being on top form, whene chance hands you the golden ticket.
You can't fake enthusiasm. If your motivation sags, you won'thave the "get up and go" needed to get that dream job. Focus on the positives. No one hires depressives.
3. Tighten Your Focus
The trouble with dreams is they're fuzzy: all misty images of joyfulness and "happy ever after" endings. That's fine for day-dreaming, but it won't work to get results. You need to know exactly what you want -- in detail -- if you're going to see how to get to it.
A lot of so-called dream jobs are simply fantasies. If your dream job isn't a practical, hard-nosed possibility, set it aside and try a few others on for size. Don't fixate on a single dream until you've proved it's possible. If you're below average height, fixating on being a professional basketball player is an illusion.
4. Look for Opportunities Others Miss
There are hidden opportunities in every situation. If the fast track looks inviting, remember obvious opportunities attract the most competition. See if you can find a less obvious path where there are fewer people competing with you.
5. Keep an Open Mind
You're looking for your dream job, not whatever the media have decided to push this week. And what's a dream for you may not even be noticed by the high-profile "whiz- kids" who often go up like a rocket and come down like the stick. Focus on what's best for you whether that's fashionable or not.
6. He (and She) Who Dares, Wins
You'll never find your dream job without taking risks. The trickis to avoid risking everything. Fear of failure and its imagined consequences is probably the strongest force that holds people in jobs they don't really enjoy and that use only a little of their abilities. Be bold!
7. Be Ready For Trade-offs
Sit down and make a list of what you really want in a job. Not just the kind of work and the atmosphere around you, but also all the benefits and whatever else would make that job wonderful.Put them in order of priority, from those you really couldn't do without to those you'd love, but could manage to let go. You may never find a job that matches your list 100%. It may not even exist. But hey ... 90% (or even 80%) of your dream may be a whole lot better than you have now.
8. Learn How to Toot Your Own Horn
No one likes a braggart, but no one notices someone who neverbrings his or her accomplishments to the fore. People generally take you at your own estimation. If you present yourself as ordinary, that's how they'll see you. If you come across as confident, able and a good kind of person to know, they'll believe that's what you are.
Act the part of your dream job long before you land it. Be seen to be part of the group from whom the person for that dream job will be chosen.
9. Find a Mentor
This is probably the single most effective action you can take toland that dream job. If you can find someone who knows the ropes(and the people involved) to take you under his or herwing, you've dramatically improved your prospects.
A mentor can smooth the way for you, help you avoid the pitfallsand show you how to show yourself to the best advantage.
Best of all, a mentor can make sure the right people hear about you. It's human nature to look seriously at a recommendation that comes from a trusted source. If you go forward with the right approval and support, your path will be smoother all the way.
If you do nothing else today to start your progress towards thatdream job, get started on finding yourself a mentor. You'll neverregret it.
Adrian W. Savage writes for people who want help with the daily dilemmas they face at work. He has contributed more than 25 articles to leading British and American publications and has been featured in The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, USA Today and The Chicago Tribune.
Visit his blog on the ups and downs of business life.