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Here’s why your dream job doesn’t exist, according to psychology

You might have a depiction of your dream job in your head - but does it exist? Source:Photo by Thought Catalog/Unsplash

There’s a lot of pressure in life to find your ‘dream job’, meaning a career you’re passionate about and value, but sometimes the career you pinned your future happiness on doesn’t quite turn out to be as fulfilling as you hoped.  

You might envisage yourself as an artist, a doctor or an engineer, but fast-forward a few years into your studies or career, and you could find the version of yourself you once pinned hopes of happiness on isn’t the rose-tinted future you envisioned all along.

When this happens, it can feel like your whole world is falling apart. Accepting that your passion isn’t enough to make you happy isn’t easy when you’ve spent your whole adult life training for your dream job.

So how does this suddenly happen after investing years of money and time into a university degree? And is there any way to prevent this downfall?

Sometimes our life goals don’t turn out the way we hoped – but why? Source: Maria Fernanda Gonzalez/Unsplash

According to psychologists at Stanford University and Yale-NUS College, these feelings are born out of the idea people have ‘fixed’ passions in life. While some people are open to developing new interest areas and expanding their skillsets, others heavily identify with a set area and show reluctance to move beyond it.

As the report states: “Urging people to find their passion may lead them to put all their eggs in one basket but then to drop that basket when it becomes difficult to carry.”

The study found that out of 470 university students, those who fixedly identify as a ‘techy’ – those interested in the STEM fields – or a ‘fuzzy’ – more arty types – show more reluctance to learn about the content they deem out of their self-identified interest remits than more open-minded people.

So when students with a ‘fixed’ perspective realise the reality of managing their own finances as a creative freelancer or a business intern are saddled with tasks that go beyond their job description, the thought that their career is going beyond their set ‘passions’ can cause feelings of loss.

The reality of today’s job market means that positions in a company are rarely limited to niche responsibilities – and the evolution of automation in the workplace sets to rewrite the current job market as we know it.

In fact, it’s estimated that 85 percent of jobs that will exist in 2030 haven’t yet been created, according to tech powerhouse, Dell. To those students who struggle to see beyond the confines of their decided passions, there’s a risk that your passions could die out in the face of change.

What if a student’s ‘dream job’ is included in the 800 million jobs set to be automated by 2030? And what happens if the position that’s actually most suitable for them doesn’t fall into their limits?

Instead, the report encourages students to adopt a ‘growth’ mentality, which acknowledges everyone’s ability to learn new interests and passions, instead of viewing them as innate.

This instils students with the resilience to adapt to the ever-changing and unpredictable economy, as well as think innovatively about their industry.

Gregory Walton, an Associate Professor of Psychology at Stanford School of Humanities and Sciences and Co-Author of the study said:

“Many advances in sciences and business happen when people bring different fields together when people see novel connections between fields that maybe hadn’t been seen before,

“If you are overly narrow and committed to one area, that could prevent you from developing interests and expertise that you need to do that bridging work.”

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