Perhaps you were raised to believe in the idea of the dream job. You may have been told that if only you work hard enough, or are well connected enough, or persistent enough, you will snag that perfect job and dwell in the land of career bliss forever.

In fact, you may also have gotten the message that settling for anything less than a dream job is, well, settling.

But you know what? There really is no such thing as a dream job. At least not permanently. Jobs that feel dreamy at first usually become less than blissful as time wears on. The perfect boss is replaced by one decidedly less perfect, the fantastic co-workers move up or out, the commute becomes unbearable or one day we just realize that we’re stuck in a rut.

Here is where it really helps to remember one of the great truths about work: Every job is temporary.

We are never “set for life,” because life is always changing. Stuff happens — layoffs, mergers, reorganizations, changes in personal circumstances that make it necessary for you to move on. Even if you somehow held onto a position for 50 years, you will find that it was, in the end, temporary.

All of which is good news. Really. Because the concept of the dream job can make selecting a career — already stressful — much more so. The choice feels too momentous. We want so badly to make the right decision that it becomes hard to make any decision at all.


So it can help, a lot, to keep in mind that we are allowed to change paths and start over again. In fact, very often we’ll have no other choice.

The important thing is to relax. You may even find that, for certain periods in your life, the good-enough job will be good enough. While you’re raising small children, taking care of an aging parent, seeking more education or dealing with life issues, a job that “just pays the bills” can often be exactly what you need and want. In fact, someday you may realize that the jobs that seemed only OK at the time were in retrospect pretty great. Perhaps even fulfilling, perhaps even dreamy.

All the more reason to take the pressure off ourselves now.