What makes for a dream job?

We all want to find a dream job that’s enjoyable and meaningful, but what does that actually mean?

The first answer that comes to “passion” and the other common factors could be easy work and highly paid.

The book 80,000 Hours talks about there are six key ingredients of a dream job they don’t include income, and they aren’t as simple as
follwing your passion

In fact, following your passion can lead you astr Steave jobs were passionate about Zen Buddhism before entering technology.
Dream job

Where we go wrong

The usual way people try to work out their dream job is to imagine different jobs and think about how satisfying they seem.

  • Working outdoors
  • Working with ambitious people
The book What color is Your parachute recommends exactly the same. The hope is that deep down, people know what they really want.

In the last few decades, research in psychology has show that this is common: We’re bad at predicting what will make us most happy, and we don’t even realize how bad we are. You can find this research in the “Stumbling Upon Happiness” – by Hatvard Professor Dan Gilbert.


Two overrated goals for a fulfilling career

People often imagine that a dream job is well paid and easy.

One of the leading job rankings in the US provided by Careercast, rates jobs on the following criteria

  • Is it highly paid?
  • Is it going to be highly paid in the future?
  • Is it stressful?
  • Is the working environment unpleasant?
In fact the evidence suggests that money and avoiding stress aren’t the most important.

Money makes you happier, but only a little

It’s a cliche that “You can buy happiness”, but at the same time, financial security is among most people’s top career priorities. 

The truth turns out to lie in the middle: money does make you happy, but only a little.

6 Uncomfortable Truths about Happiness - Happier Human

source: https://www.happierhuman.com/truth-about-happiness/


You’ll likely end up well into the range where more income has almost no effect on your happiness.

Don’t aim for low stress

May people tell that they want to find a job that’s not too stressful. And it’s true that in the past, doctors and psychologists believed that stress was always bad. However, the recent modern literature on stress and today the picture is a bit more complicated. 
VariableGood (or Neutral)Bad
Intensity of demandsChallenging but achievableMismatched with ability(either too high or too low)
ControlHigh control and autonomyLow control and autonomy
PowerHigh powerLowe power
Social SupportGood social supportSocial isolation
MindsetReframe demands as opportunities (Stress as useful)View demands as threats (Stress as harmful to health)

Instead of seeking to avoid stress, seek out a supportive context and meaningful work, and then challenge yourself.

What should you aim for in a dream job?

the key ingredients of wellbeing as:

  • Positive emotion – feeling happy day-to-day
  • Engagement – having challenging, absorbing tasks.
  • Relationships – having supportive friends and family.
  • Meaning – having a purpose higher than yourself.
  • Achievement – being good at something.

the book 80000 hours suggests that there are six key ingredients

  1. Work that’s engaging
  2. Work that helps others
  3. Work your good at
  4. Work with supportive colleagues
  5. Lack of major negatives
  6. Work that fits the rest of your life

1. Work that’s engaging

happy working

What really matters is not your salary, status, type of company an so on, but rather what you do day by day, hour by hour. Engaging work that draws you in, and gives you a sense of flow.

Why computer games, engaging while office admin isn’t? researchers have identified four factors

  • The freedom to decide how to perform your work.
  • Clear tasks, with a clearly defined start and end.
  • Variety in the type of task.
  • Feedback, so you know how well you’re doing.

2. Work that helps others

Over 90% of people doing the below jobs say they don’t find them meaningful:

  • Revenue analyst
  • Fashion designer
  • TV newscast director
However, below are seen as meaningful by almost everyone who does them:
  • Fire service officer
  • Nurse / midwife
  • Neurosurgeon
The key difference is that the second set of jobs seem to help other people. That’s why helping others is meaningful is the second factor.

3. Work you’re good at

Good at work

Being good at work give you a sense of achievement, one of the five ingredients of life satisfaction. It gives you the power to negotiate for the other components.

That’s not to say you should only do work you’re already good at. However, you at least have the potential to get good at it.

4.Work with supportive colleagues

helping at work

Obviously, if you hate your colleagues and work for a boss from hell, you’re not going to be satisfied.

Since good relationships are such an important part of having a fulfilling life, it’s important to be able to become friends with at least a couple of people at work. And this probably means working with at least a few people who are similar to you.

The most important factor is whether you can get help from your colleagues when you ran into problems.

5. Lack of major negatives


To be satisfied, everything above is important. But you also need the absence of things that make work unpleasant. all the following tend to be lined to job dissatisfaction

  • A long commute, especially if it’s over an hour by bus.
  • Very long hours.
  • Pay you feel is unfair.
  • Job insecurity.

6. Work that fits with the rest of your life

You don’t have to get all the ingredients of a fulfilling life from your job. It’s possible to find a job that pays the bills and excel in a side project or to find a sene of meaning though philanthropy and volunteering or to build great relationships outside of work.

Should you just follow your passion?

Follow your passion has become a defining piece of career advice.
If we look at successful people, they are often passionate about what they do. However the follow your passion can be misleading advice. One problem is that it suggest that passion is all you need. But even if you’re interested in the work if you lack in the other six factors, you’ll be unsatisfied. 


If a basketball fan get’s a job involving basketball. But works with people they hate, receives unfair pay, or finds the work meaningless, they are still going to dislike their job.

Below is Google Ngram


Do what contributes to the world

Rather than follow your passion 80000 hours book suggests that the slogan for the fulfilling career is get food at something that helps others or simply do what contributes.

You’ll be more successful

If you make it your mission to help others, then people will want to help you succeed.

One caveat is that givers also end up unsuccessful if they focus too much on others and burn out. So you need other ingredients to be successful mentioned earlier.


To have a dream job, don’t worry too much about money and stress, and don’t endlessly self reflect to find your one true passion.
Rather get good at something that helps others. It’s best for you and it’s best for the world.

Ref: https://80000hours.org/

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