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A few months ago I moved out to Los Angeles to join my new husband after our wedding. Having graduated with a B.A. in Theatre and Cinema Performance, and currently pursuing an M.A. in Theatre Arts, my high hopes of finding my dream job in L.A. seemed to propel our little car forward as we trekked across the country to our new home.

Fast forward four months and you can find me sitting behind a desk. Every. Single. Day. I’m currently employed as a business assistant/receptionist/do-anything-the-boss-tells-me-to-do gopher. I don’t mind it, I really don’t. I like using my organizational skills and helping clients have the best possible experience, but the fact remains:

This is not my dream job. 

Maybe you currently find yourself in a similar situation. Or maybe – like so many of us have – you’re about to take a job merely because it was offered and you desperately need to pay the bills. Suddenly you feel like you’re cheating your dreams, your hard-earned skills and ultimately, yourself.

So what do we do when we’re forced to take any job that comes to us just to survive? Here are a few tips for getting by and not getting stuck:

Be The Best Employee
It can be incredibly difficult to give your all to a job that seems pointless on the path to your career pursuits, but by giving your best in your current role you’re proving that you are a person worth hiring. Be the kind of employee that you would want to hire and you’ll be able take a great reference with you when it’s time to move on.

Stay Creative
Just because you’re in a job outside your desired industry doesn’t mean that you can’t make progress toward your dream one. Stay up-to-date with what’s happening in that career field. Read everything you can. Make your own projects and carry them out to completion. Constantly honing your skills and putting them into practice will give you more to show for yourself when you finally do go into that highly anticipated interview.

Kill Expectations And Comparison
Everyone is on a different track. Everyone arrives at a different time. By comparing yourself with others around you who seem to be farther along than you are, you’re putting an unnecessary burden of expectation on yourself that won’t get you anywhere faster, and may also cause you to miss the blessings of the moment because you’re scrambling to get ahead. Keep reminding yourself that you will get there at the right time.

Avoid Getting Comfortable
While it’s important to do your best in your current role, it’s also important that you don’t allow yourself to settle with something long term just because it’s stable. I have heard far too many stories from people who started what they hoped would be a temporary job, yet found themselves still in that job and wondering where their dreams went twenty years later. Keep taking risks. Keep looking for opportunities and openings. Don’t give up your dreams for the sake of being comfortable.

So, where are you? Maybe you’ve felt locked into a job that you’ve hated for years and don’t know how to get out and still afford the bills. You may find yourself thinking that leaving is much easier said than done — and you’re absolutely right, but, you’re not alone. Perhaps it’s time to reassess. Keep striving and working toward that dream job, take advantage of the time you’ve been given to prepare and enjoy every step of the journey.

Where would you like to be in five years? What can you do to start heading that way today, right where you are?

Image via A Beautiful Mess


8 comments

  1. I needed to read this – thank you so much for your words and reflections! Just quit my job, and am currently open to what my Path has in store for me – exciting (and somewhat frightening!) times ahead:)

  2. I really can relate to this, I am in same situation. Thank you so much for this, I am really inspired by this article. I always have that fear of losing what I love to do, if I decided to do something else in the meantime. Reading this I can totally say it is ok to come back to it. Motivated!!!!

  3. Janelle, thank you so much for your words. This article was a good reminder to keep growing wherever you are, in whatever job you’re working at. It reminded me that I can grow no matter where I am.

  4. Oh so eloquently put, and quite motivational! This one hit home for me, and though these words are somewhere in the back of my mind at all times, it is so refreshing to read them and embrace that reminder. Such marvelous points and completely inspiring article, I thoroughly enjoyed reading this and am so grateful for Janelle’s lovely compilation!

  5. Fantastic post! Although I love reading how people left their “horrid” and unwanted job to pursue their dream job, I LOVE how Janelle addresses how to do the best you can with the current situation, while not forgetting what you really want (and how to keep the dream alive).

  6. I hope to be at least one year in business on our farm. I recently opened up a separate savings account to push us ever closer to our goal. And I’m knee-deep in business start-up books. Thanks for the inspiration to keep going 🙂

  7. This could not be more timely for me. I have about 10 weeks left in the job I’m currently doing, and these are some nice reminders to keep my head in it and not get too far ahead of myself. In five years, I hope to have finished a documentary I’m starting work on and have published a book!

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