"I just wanted to tell you how grateful I am to you and your book, What Color is your Parachute . I graduated from a 4 year university in May, and I had no clue what I wanted to do, or how to look for a job. Like any kid, I thought I knew the best way to do things and that I didn't need anyone's advice, but after a few months of unemployment I realized that this wasn't true. My dad had given me a copy of your book, but after a few months of nothing, not even an interview, I really read it, did the exercises, and trusted in what you were saying. I didn't believe that I would find MY job, the perfect job for me. But I did, at a nonprofit that does cleft lip and palate surgery missions to China and Africa. This job has literally every single attribute that I listed, and I wouldn't have known what attributes I needed in a job unless I had done your exercises. I'm sure you get probably hundreds of emails a week saying the same thing, so I'll keep it short--I just wanted to say that I owe my happiness in my job to you and my dad. I recommend your book to EVERYONE, including strangers. THANK YOU!"Or again:
"I am back on the job market and returned to you and your book again. You never fail to inspire me, and make me feel enthusiastic about creating a new job, new future, and about refocusing myself going forward. I am between jobs and returned back to your website and books for help. As in the past, they are immensely helpful. In the media and on the internet, there is so much negativity, pessimism, and people promoting the idea that life is so gloomy and bad. What a gift you give your millions of readers! You give hope, inspiration, knowledge, compassion. You help us like ourselves more - priceless!"
Those are terrific letters, to be sure. Let me play the devil's advocate for a moment. Last weekend, I mentioned the Dream Job concept to a friend who, in response, told me the following story. A colleague of his worked in the corporate world for many years. Some years back, this fellow left everything to pursue his dream, which was nature photography. He was very happy during this time. He self-published several books. But he also ran through all his savings, and is now broke and back in the job market but no longer "fresh" and attractive in a difficult job market. This proved for my friend the folly of following your dreams. Based on this incomplete sketch for which I have no more details, how would you respond?
This dream job was taking pictures and writing books. The average book sells 1500 copies in its entire lifetime. With royalties running around 10 percent or slightly higher, of sales, this means authors will make maybe a buck or two, per copy. You do the math. It's not enough to live on.
Therefore, anyone who defines his or her dream job as "writing books" always needs to come up with a plan that has three parts to it, not just one. Three part time jobs, if you will. The first job should provide you with enough money to live on. The second one is something you do for the fun of it. And the third one should help extend your brand or influence.
The mistake most writers (or writer-photographers) make is in thinking that writing books will be the first kind of job. It rarely ever is. It belongs to the second genre, almost always. You do it for fun.
But a dream job isn't all fun. It has to be reproducible over a longer stretch of time, and that means you can't depend on just your savings. You will still need to figure out what you're going to do by way of the first kind of part-time job. ( And eventually the third.)
In going after a dream job, particularly if that dream job won't support you financially, you have to plan all three parts, not just leap into the scene. Plan, not just leap.
The man your friend cited apparently just leaped without much planning; (I'm just guessing). In my experience, that is why most "dream jobs" fail (when they do). Had he read, and used, my book with its call for doing complete step by step planning exercises, before you leap, he would have carefully assembled the necessary three parts to make his "dream job" succeed. And he wouldn't have had to watch his dream fail.
Now, let me make a useful comment or two about your friend saying this one example proved to him that you can't go after a dream job. A biologist was once walking thru Times Square in New York City, at high noon with a friend of his, on a summer's day. Suddenly the biologist said to his friend, "Oh, listen to that cricket!" The friend looked at the biologist like he was nuts. "How on earth could you hear a cricket in the midst of this busy traffic and noise?" Wordlessly, the biologist pulled a handful of change out of his pocket and tossed all the coins high in the air. As they bounced off the pavement, everyone whirled and pounced on the coins. "See," said the biologist to his friend, "we hear what we're listening for."
People who secretly think (whether they are conscious of it or not) that looking for a dream job is folly, will always be listening for stories that they think proves they are right ---- like the one you just cited. On the other hand, people who believe that a dream job is what you should at least start out looking for, will always be listening for stories that seem to prove that they are right. It all depends on what you're listening for.
Yet another excellent story, Dick. You're one busy guy! You just celebrated your 84th birthday. Congratulations. While your energy seems to know no bounds, one assumes that at some point, you'll slow down. What happens then? Have you got anyone waiting in the wings to carry on the work you do?
I received both copies of your latest question, but my reason for delaying in answering is simply that I have now come into a period where it is very difficult for me to find time to answer my emails. I am under some very heavy deadlines for my writing, and it is taking every waking hour I have just to keep up with those deadlines. This will continue through May 10th. I am hard at work completely rewriting Parachute, as this will be the 40th anniversary edition when it comes out August 17th.
[So, I guess the default answer to that last question is that Dick's too busy to answer!] Well, it was a treat chatting with you and getting the inside story on What Color is Your Parachute? It doesn't look like you're slowing down any time soon, Dick. Thanks and happy 40th anniversary!
Job Hunters Bible: Official Site for What Color is Your Parachute?
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