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Why It's OK to Quit Your Dream Job

Why It's OK to Quit Your Dream Job

I decided that I wanted to be a magazine editor when I was a freshman in high school. I had just published a personal essay—my first one ever!— in the '00s teen bible, Girls' Life. The sheer adrenaline of seeing my name in print immediately convinced me that this was it. Writing for magazines was what I was meant to be doing with my life, and this instant conviction was enough for me to push my old dream careers, like vet and movie star, to the back of my mind.

From that point forward, I had my eye on the prize. I wrote for The Nashville Scene, the local indie magazine, before leaving my hometown to attend college in New York. I interned every summer at the swankiest-seeming fashion magazines, and suffered the painful high heel blisters to prove it. I watched The Devil Wears Prada dozens of times, because it was inexplicably inspiring to me (although, considering Andy leaves the fashion industry to pursue a different career in the end, maybe the movie foreshadowed what would happen in my own life...).

When I graduated from college and nabbed a position at my favorite magazine ever, I couldn't believe it. Sure, I had worked my butt off for the opportunity—but after building the idea up in my head for years, landing a staff position still felt too good to be true.

But here’s the thing that nobody ever tells you: Just because your current gig is your dream job at some moment in time doesn't mean it'll stay that way. Whether you experience the position firsthand and realize it’s not what you want, or you decide to change course earlier on, it’s totally fine. Sometimes the glossy sheen of a job just wears off when you get too close to it, and the cracks below the surface are exposed.

That’s what happened to me. I ended up hopping between magazines and various media companies for the next few years before eventually deciding that my new dream job was being my own boss. And, ta-da, here we are!

I realize now that the most important part about having a career plan isn’t the end goal. It’s understanding that your professional dreams can evolve. Once I realized that I didn’t care so much about the free clothes or fancy parties that came along with fashion magazines, I was able to pinpoint exactly why I first wanted to break into the industry back in high school: to write. That's all. When you strip the other extra fluff away, it becomes easier to remember why you were originally interested in the gig. That way, if you do decide to leave your company, it’s no problem to find a plan B.

Who knows? Maybe labeling something a "dream job” just puts too much pressure on one particular occupation. I mean, how many jobs can really live up to this impossible standard?! Just like your apartment and your wardrobe and your interests, your career goals can change as you do. It’s just up to you to have the courage to realize it, and to change with them.

I decided that I wanted to be a magazine editor when I was a freshman in high school. I had just published a personal essay—my first one ever!— in the '00s teen bible, Girls' Life. The sheer adrenaline of seeing my name in print immediately convinced me that this was it. Writing for magazines was what I was meant to be doing with my life, and this instant conviction was enough for me to push my old dream careers, like vet and movie star, to the back of my mind.

From that point forward, I had my eye on the prize. I wrote for The Nashville Scene, the local indie magazine, before leaving my hometown to attend college in New York. I interned every summer at the swankiest-seeming fashion magazines, and suffered the painful high heel blisters to prove it. I watched The Devil Wears Prada dozens of times, because it was inexplicably inspiring to me (although, considering Andy leaves the fashion industry to pursue a different career in the end, maybe the movie foreshadowed what would happen in my own life...).

When I graduated from college and nabbed a position at my favorite magazine ever, I couldn't believe it. Sure, I had worked my butt off for the opportunity—but after building the idea up in my head for years, landing a staff position still felt too good to be true.

But here’s the thing that nobody ever tells you: Just because your current gig is your dream job at some moment in time doesn't mean it'll stay that way. Whether you experience the position firsthand and realize it’s not what you want, or you decide to change course earlier on, it’s totally fine. Sometimes the glossy sheen of a job just wears off when you get too close to it, and the cracks below the surface are exposed.

That’s what happened to me. I ended up hopping between magazines and various media companies for the next few years before eventually deciding that my new dream job was being my own boss. And, ta-da, here we are!

I realize now that the most important part about having a career plan isn’t the end goal. It’s understanding that your professional dreams can evolve. Once I realized that I didn’t care so much about the free clothes or fancy parties that came along with fashion magazines, I was able to pinpoint exactly why I first wanted to break into the industry back in high school: to write. That's all. When you strip the other extra fluff away, it becomes easier to remember why you were originally interested in the gig. That way, if you do decide to leave your company, it’s no problem to find a plan B.

Who knows? Maybe labeling something a "dream job” just puts too much pressure on one particular occupation. I mean, how many jobs can really live up to this impossible standard?! Just like your apartment and your wardrobe and your interests, your career goals can change as you do. It’s just up to you to have the courage to realize it, and to change with them.

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