Wall Street WARZONE

8 Rules to Creating “Your Dream Job.” Forget About Retirement. No More Compromising. Commit. Go For It. Never Look Back, Says The Men’s Journal

by Paul B Farrell, JD, PhD
| | 4/23/2010

“To be totally engaged with all my functions, all my faculties, all my capabilities in life. To me that would be success … You should be looking for the joy, the struggle, and the challenge of work. What you bring forth from your own guts and heart. The happiness of hard work. No amount of money can buy that. Those are things of the spirit;” Jacob Needleman, Money & the Meaning of Life. So “why is it that only a minority of our population love their work?” says Thomas Stanley in The Millionaire Mind. “If you are creative enough to select the ideal vocation, you can win, win big-time. The really brilliant multi-millionaires are those who selected a vocation they love.”

So why do most American compromise their dreams? Why spend a lifetime working at something they don’t love, in desperation, waiting for retirement? Is our obsession with regular savings totally off-base, distracting and misleading? If so, why? Is the relentless drumbeat about “savings” just a broker’s self-interested sales-pitch designed to generate more brokerage fees from your assets. 

Maybe you should stop being so obsessive about savings. Maybe there’s something more important in life than working at a job you don’t like in order to save up a nest egg for a cushy retirement, twenty, thirty, forty years later. Unfortunately, our brains have a bad habit of focusing on bogus targets, then tenaciously “staying the course,” no matter what. We give up today’s dreams for fantasies that may never come true. We fritter away what’s really important today, hoping we’ll be relieved of life’s burdens tomorrow, when we retire.

But what if that distant fantasy isn’t “there” when you get “there?” What if you sacrifice your dreams, only to discover (when it’s too late), that the dream you gave up wasn’t worth the miniscule nest egg you’re left with? So many do. A couple years ago I was in one of Starbucks’ 11,000 shops. At first I was struck seeing so many Americans wasting their future retirement security by indulging in the daily instant gratification of their daily habit that’s made coffee, America’s second biggest import, driving that $11 billion business.

The math is simple: five bucks a day per latte and muffin compounds to $200,000 in 30 years, which is larger than the current nest eggs of most Americans at retirement. The fact is, after four decades of saving with a 10% annual rate, our nation’s savings rate has dropped to less than zero in the last two decades—so the reality is that many Americans have already decided that sacrificing for tomorrow isn’t worth it, so they’re already living for today!

The dark side of America’s declining savings rate

Today the average American has less than $50,000 in savings at retirement (exclusive of home equity). Most studies tell us two out of three Americans aren’t saving enough. No wonder our nation’s savings rate is in negative territory, less than zero. Worse yet, as meager as Social Security is, half of our population over 65 would be living in poverty without it. Earlier we reviewed ten reasons why 65% of Americans aren’t saving “enough.” Ten reasons, and all negative: Too busy, distrustful of brokers, too complicated, hate the numbers game, uninterested, naïve, etc. So let’s look closely at some positive reasons why people aren’t saving “enough,” why people are make positive decisions, choosing to live for today and follow their heart, no matter what, rather than save for an uncertain tomorrow.

Forget Starbucks—go for your “Dream Job!”

This shift in perspective—looking at the positive rather than negative explanations for America’s subzero savings rate—hit me quite suddenly while reading an article in Men’s Journal magazine. It summarized in absolute simplicity, a radically new way to look at the savings drop in America—by seeing it as a personal challenge rather than a national problem. Maybe the 67% of Americans who aren’t saving “enough” also aren’t wasting their future. Maybe we’re actually “giving it away,” getting out of our own way, searching for ways to help others, serving a larger purpose, fulfilling their unique mission this lifetime—one that Wall Street’s brokers don’t get—what physicist Gary Zukav described in his bestseller, The Seat of the Soul: “Each soul takes upon itself a particular task … Whatever the task your soul has agreed to, whatever its contract with the Universe, all of the experiences of your life serve to awaken within you the memory of that contract, and to prepare you to fulfill it. ”

So just maybe all the “saving to retire rich” hype really isn’t as important as the Wall Street Hype Machine wants you to believe. The Men’s Journal feature on “Dream Jobs” was loaded with inspiring stories about people “going for it!” For example, Dr. David Jenkins, a physician, goes a luxury charter cruise surfing off Indonesian. Suddenly he’s “surrounded by 100 desperate people … One woman was literally brought to me in a wheelbarrow. Later she died. She had pneumonia, very treatable, but it was just too late. Malaria, anemia, tuberculosis. The chief of the village asked me to run a clinic. It was then I knew I was going to do something.” His “task” suddenly became clear.

“Work defines who you are”

Do “something?” Yes, your “task,” your mission in life. So Jenkins “founded SurfAid which assists regions connected to the surf community.” Then he said something about savings that inspired me: “Working to end suffering became more important than saving my money to buy BMWs or whatever.” Dream Jobs underscored a crucial fact of life: “Work defines who we are.” Work consumes most of our daily lives, what we learn, our income, what we contribute to life, and “to an arguably unhealthy degree, whether we’re happy. That’s why it’s so important to find a job you love.” Why each of you must finally discover the “task” you agreed to fulfill this lifetime. The health of your soul.

8 principles to creating your own “dream job”

So Men’s Journal asked eight inspiring guys “what they do right that the wannabes do wrong” in the pursuit of that elusive dream job. And they got eight “guiding principles” on how to create your dream job:

One. Find your passion, and follow it
We’ve heard this before, many ways: Follow your bliss. Do what you love and money will follow. But let nobody kid you that it’s easy, or the money comes fast, or ever. But when I was doing career counseling back in the eighties, this was rule number one from every expert in the field, and millionaires-next-door say it still is rule one. So yes, it’s tough, but essential, find your passion.

Two. You can’t be too obsessive
Mark Cuban is hyper-obsessive. But it made him a billionaire during the dotcom mania. Enough to buy the Dallas Mavericks. Obsessions start early: “When I was 16, buying and selling stamps, I learned that most people don’t do their homework.” Obsession gives you a competitive edge.

Three. A little narcissism goes a long way
A Men’s Journal’s poll found 83% of its readers were desk-bound, like X-Games champ, Will Gadd. Finally, he‘d had enough: “I quit my office job a decade ago to do adventure sports full-time.” His first competition was ice-climbing. Netting him $13,000 in 1998. Red Bull is now his sponsor. “If you get good enough at anything in the world, somebody will pay you to do it.”

Four. Accept risk with confidence
As commander of the Discovery, astronaut Steve Lindsey knew risk. He trains hard: “It can’t ever be completely safe, but within limits there’s an acceptable level of risk.” You compete with confidence, ready for the inevitable curveballs, excited, knowing you can handle the unexpected.

Five. Don’t be too cautious
Phil Simms knows how to push the envelope and win. Proof? His Super Bowl ring from his days as the New York Giants quarterback: “You’ve got to be free enough in your mind to the point where your body is right on the edge of going out of control, but not quite.”

 Six. Always set new goals
Born in Ethiopia, raised by a Swedish engineer, he fell in love with cooking, got scholarships in Switzerland and France. Today he keeps raising the bar: Executive chef, part owner, now several restaurants. Michelangelo once said: “The greatest danger for most of us is not that our aim is too high and we miss it, but that it is too low and we reach it.”

Seven. Choose your allies wisely
Chris Carmichael started training with Lance Armstrong as a teen. Gifted people often “float along on their extraordinariness,” never really pushing themselves, never reaching full potential. Find tough, demanding mentors, coaches, teachers—you need these allies driving you to achieve.

Eight. Know when you have a duty
Remember Dr. Dave Jenkins, surfing on a luxury cruise? The dying woman in a wheel barrow. The tribal chief who needed a clinic. The wake-up call to “do something.” He knew he had to a duty, and created SurfAid: “My personal belief is that, for all of us, the best way to deal with our own problems in life is to help someone else.”

Burn these eight “guiding principles” into your brain: They are “as useful for staying at the top of your game as for launching a second career or catching your first break.” Bottom line: Never, never, never set aside savings for some distant, elusive retirement fantasy, before “investing” in your “dream job” today! Remember—you have a “task” to do. Know it. Do it!

FirstPubDate: Oct’06

Leave a Comment

You must be logged in to post a comment.