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Envision Your Dream Job, Part III: What Can't You Live Without?

The last part of our series about finding your dream job.

It's that time of year, and if you're looking for a new job you may have decided it's the perfect time to take a little break from your efforts.

Why not go on vacation like so many of the gainfully employed do? I'm not being facetious. I know many people are not working, and those that are would much rather kick back, take a long lunch and do some holiday shopping.

Yet I wouldn't recommend you suspend all efforts. After all, people do land jobs during the holidays and it can often be an opportune time to take advantage of the gap left by other job hunters who did go on vacations—even if that only means they've stayed in their pajamas until noon and watched television shows they didn't know existed when they had a job.

So you are trying your best to stay productive, but you probably have some extra, extra time. You're ever optimistic about the holiday season and you heart says that a terrific new job is out there. That's great. Keep rocking that idea.

Not you? 

Well, it's not just Santa who's making a list and checking it twice.

If a new job, maybe even your "dream job," is on your holiday wish list, you've got some more list making and checking to do. For those who've done  and of the job characteristics envisioning strategy I wrote about in the last two columns, part three awaits. I know you can't stand the suspense, so here it is:

You've fantasized and made your "Blue Sky" list. You let that go and made your more realistic "Would Like/Should Have" list. Now it's time to dig deeper and create that "Non-Negotiable/Must Have" list. This is going to be your toughest list yet and if you're tempted to put it off till next year, so be it but I understand the Job Fairy is going on vacation soon so you might want to put it out there so she can start working on it.

What can't you do without? What can't you tolerate in your work life ever again?  What is the absolute minimum salary you can accept? What is the lowest title you can live with? What industries appeal to you and which ones make your stomach churn?

We know that in this new job age, a personal assistant for many but the highest ranking executives is a thing of the past, but what about other factors? Do you need to have your own private office or will a cubicle suffice? What about one with low dividers where you can hear and see your colleagues doing business?

Do you want to be stimulated with continued professional growth or have you found your personal satisfaction elsewhere and determined that a decent paycheck in a reasonably comfortable job is enough? Is your next job a career move or a stopgap until you've recovered financially or can open the small business you still dream about?

What do you really want? What can you live with and live without? 

Get down to the nitty gritty of every aspect of your professional life. Pick it apart. Do some serious soul searching and write down the nuts and bolts of your next job.

You're surprised. Where is the dream in this job I've told you to envision? You've been fantasizing about all the amazing possibilities your next job can offer and now I've told you to make a list of your worst-case scenario. I've led you down a path of roses to leave you in a forest of thistles. Not so.

The third list should reflect the very core of who you are and what you want from your career and your life. Don't go to the bottom of the barrel to make it. We all know that if faced with homelessness and complete destitution, we would do anything. This list is not that. This is a realistic list of job characteristics and qualities that are a reflection of your core values—the things that can't be compromised.

Think back to when you were dating and you imagined your ideal spouse.  He looked like George Clooney, Johnny Depp or Brad Pitt.  Maybe he was George or Johnny or Brad.  That is list #1 – "Blue Sky." The "Would Like/Should Have" for your dream job is like the nameless hot guy you see in the elevator every day—a fantasy but just within reach. The third list, "Non-Negotiable/Must Have," is the equivalent of your idea of what is attractive in a partner—it's the absolute minimum you need to invest your time and effort.

If you feel you've lost the "dream" in your dream job with the third list, you haven't. You've created a realistic, respectable, acceptable picture of what can't be compromised—a fully fleshed out a vision of the job you want—and you're one step closer to making it real.

Use these characteristics to make a new list of target companies or design your own business, and make plans to start moving toward them in the new year. Line up networking contacts, seek the advice of professionals and create a strategy. Maybe you can start looking at positions that are a step or two lower than what you've done before. If that new profession about which you've fantasized conflicts with your non-negotiables, move on and find another to replace it. 

In the new year, you should just go for it. Who knows? You may land the dream job equivalent of George Clooney.

Mindy Gibson has worked in broadcast media through most of her career, primarily as a television programming executive launching three networks, including Telemundo and USA Network's cable channels in Latin America and Brazil.  Her column, Career Interrupted, will appear twice a month on Rye Patch.

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