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What to Do When Your New Dream Job Turns Out to Be a Nightmare


You dreamed, you planned, you worked hard, and finally you’ve landed your dream job. Hooray! Except, once you actually starting doing the job, it turns out to be a bit of a nightmare. Maybe you’re not as good at it as you’d hoped you’d be, or it doesn’t feel like a good fit for your character or personality. Whatever the case, discovering that your dream job isn’t making you happy can be a huge drag. Here are a few examples how dream jobs can go bad, and what you can do about it.

dream job nightmare

(Photo Credit: lorenkerns/Flickr)

When the company doesn’t feel like a good fit…

Do You Know What You're Worth?

Maybe it’s not that your occupation or industry is wrong for you — maybe it’s just the company you work for that’s not quite right. Sometimes, we have to start doing a job to realize what we need. Perhaps you’d prefer more autonomy than your company offers, or you’d like to have more opportunities to exercise your creativity at work. No matter what the case may be, when your company doesn’t feel like a good fit, it can be difficult to find contentment in a position.

What you can do about it:

If your occupation feels right, but the company doesn’t, it might be time to start thinking about your career values. This type of self-knowledge is hard won — it takes time and a little effort to build this kind of understanding about what you want and need. Work toward clarifying what exactly it is that’s bothering you, and then think about what you’d need from a work environment to feel more content. Once you know more about what you’re shooting for, it’ll be much easier to obtain, either with your current company, or when you decide to move on.

When you’re not as good at it as you thought you’d be…

A recent post from xoJane, written by C. Jenson, explores this all too common phenomenon. After finally landing a job in the industry the author had dreamed of, reality began to set in.

“Turns out, I’m not great at typing or listening,” Jenson said. And, the boss noticed too: “I had been caught fumbling my way through…. I thought I would pick things up quickly on the job and I hadn’t. My boss was going to give me one more week to prove I could actually use a phone and a computer before letting me go.”

What you can do about it:

After some consideration, Jenson decided to quit the job. The author explains:

“Just because you think you want something doesn’t mean it’s what is right for you. Just because you love something doesn’t mean you are going to excel at it. Just because you’ve used a computer before doesn’t mean you’re actually good at it. And all of that is OK.”

However, before following in these footsteps, consider waiting — particularly if you really enjoy what you do. It takes time to learn how to do a new job well. You’re not going to be there on day one. Reach out to people that can help you, be patient, and give it a little time.

When, for some reason, it just doesn’t make you as happy as you thought it would…

Just like with anything else in life, dreaming about a job for a long time can build up expectations in your mind. Maybe you enjoy the job you worked so hard to land well enough, but it’s just not making you as happy as you thought it would. You can’t exactly pinpoint why you feel let down, but you do.

What you can do about it:

Keep in mind that no matter how much you enjoy what you do, you can’t expect to get everything you need in life (all the fulfillment, stimulation, happiness, connection, pride…) from your job. Putting all of your eggs into any one basket isn’t a great idea — no matter how much you love the basket in question.

Work to find real work-life balance, continue to develop your own interests outside of work, and build strong and meaningful relationships. Your job is just one piece of the puzzle of your life, no matter how much time and energy you spend there. It’s important to try to stay balanced. You’ll be better at your job (and other aspects of your life too) if you do.

Tell Us What You Think

Did you land your dream job only to discover some disappointments? Tell us about it! Leave a comment or join the discussion on Twitter.

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Sue Jones
Sue Jones

Been there and done that…more the point survived! In my infinite wisdom, I was tickled pink to be sent a wonderful “sounding post/job detail”. I had been doing a variety of Locum work in the UK as a Peripatetic Occupational Health Nurse – emphasis being Occupational Health. To the uninitiated, that is as far from conventional Nursing, especially acute/traumatic environments/situations as you can possibly get professionally. there was some discussion that I was being considered for a post to Camp… Read more »

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