People have this concept of a Dream Job. Yet they go about getting their dream job in exactly the wrong way.
Most people chase their dream job like the protagonist in a romantic comedy chases their “true love”: A frantic effort to find The One.
Yet getting a job doesn’t determine your job. Rather, you get the job you train other to give you. Every interaction you have with bosses, coworkers, and direct reports helps shape your job.
My wife and daughter like to watch “The Dog Whisperer.” Invariably, Cesar concludes that the dog isn’t a bad dog; rather, its owners trained it (inadvertently) to behave badly. The same thing happens on the job. But instead of training a chihuahua to yap, you’re training people how to treat you.
If you make it easy for people to work with you, more people will want to work with you. When I was younger, a got a lot of plum assignments and autonomy from my bosses because I made it easy for them to work with me. I treated them like a Chinese landlord, and got desired results (and rave reviews) accordingly.
There is a downside; people may want to work with you so much that they’ll overload you. My wife has this issue at work–she’s so good at bailing out troubled projects that she’s constantly deluged with pleas for help. But the good news is that her company will do just about anything to keep her–she currently works 4 days a week, 3 of those from home, but still gets a full-time salary. Just pull a Nancy Reagan and learn to just say no.
Conversely, it you make it hard to work with you, people will avoid doing so. One of patterns I see a lot is that graphic designers feel underappreciated and complain about being pulled into projects too late. This complaint is generally true, but most of them fail to realize that the situation is one of their own making. Most designers are highly opinionated and don’t appreciate all the tradeoffs involves in building a product. As a result, they train their companies to shut them out of the specification phase; dealing with complaints is bad, but dealing with the pain of getting them involved early on is even worse.
Channel you own Cesar Milan and figure out how you’re training the people around you. The good news is that if the problems you face are self-inflicted, there’s a good chance they can be self-repaired!
The best way to get your dream job, like your dream dog, is proper training.