Your Ideal Job: Do You Know What You Want?

The ideal job.  The ideal position.  The ideal career.  We talk about these things, we want these things, we strive for these things.

I do, of course.  I’m big on life/career integration.  I know many other people who strive for these things as well . . . which of course I do because I meet people like myself.

But I hear all these talks about what people are doing to find the perfect job.  I hear pay rates and statistics on what they want.  I hear bits and pieces of abstract discussions.

As we quest for the perfect career I think we can miss an obvious question: what is really going to make us happy in our careers?

Not abstract lists or a few broad buzzwords – what do we really want?  What is it going to take to make you happy in your job and career?

This is often a hard question.  I mean people can give salary requirements or discussions of emotional states and so forth, but can they truly paint a big, coherent, picture of what will make them happy?  In my experience the answer is usually a mixture of “No” and “not in any way that makes sense.”

You’re probably nodding.  You’ve had “those” conversations, possibly with yourself.

Of course this is all pie-in-the-sky speculation anyway?  Dreams and kerfluffery?  Not really.

See if we can coherently describe our goals and what makes us happy, we can work backwards from that state and come up with a plan.  Sure it may be a difficult plan or not the most coherent, it may need changes, but it’s a plan.  It’s a plan because we have a place to go.

So if you’re not happy with your career, if you have the idea you’re not happy but want to be somewhere, go on and try and describe somewhere:

  1. What do you do?
  2. What makes you happy?  What kind of happiness is it?
  3. Where do you work?
  4. Why are you doing what you do?
  5. Who do you work with?
  6. How do you maintain and evolve this to stay happy?
  7. What’s next?
  8. What other questions do you want to answer?

Go on.  Describe it.  In detail.  Don’t hold back.  Work on it until you feel it.

Now look that over. If it feels right . . . then what’s the last step before you have that?  What’s the step before that?  Before that?

Before long you’ll be back to a step you can do in the next five minutes.

Challenging?  Odd? Weird?  That’s the point – asking the questions.  When it comes to happiness, they’re often more important than answers . . .

– Steven Savage

Steven Savage is a Geek 2.0 writer, speaker, blogger, and job coach.  He blogs on careers at, nerd and geek culture at, and does a site of creative tools at He can be reached at