I had to make a choice, in 2012.
I love IT stuff. I always wanted to build my career around IT domain and I got a web developer job at a startup. I’d not say I found my dream job but that was pretty much closer to what I wanted at that point in time. I really really loved the job content. It was daylight clear to me, that particular job content was the perfect stepping stone to lead me towards my desired career path. On the flipside, I was not quite impressed with that company’s business philosophy (I know it’s a vague term but I don’t want to get into details with this point now). However to me, that was one of the most important factors, if not the most important factor of any job. Also, the location of that job was in the middle of nowhere. The place was so remote that even a guy like me who does not give a damn about social life got a little bit concerned about the social life!
And then, I got another job offer from Japan, almost the opposite corner of the world relative to where I was residing at that time (UK). The job description of this Japanese one was nowhere close to what I wanted! However, prior to the official acceptance of the job offer, I had the opportunity to meet and talk with the people who would be my team members. I got a feeling that they would be very nice people to work with. Location-wise, the job was in Hiroshima – a city which is not really a busy mega city and also not a middle-of-nowhere type place. The scenic beauty of the city is really top-notch!
I signed out from that web developer job and signed up for Hiroshima job.
It’d be an exaggeration if I say I am leading a dream life now but I do not really have much to complain about my life as it is now. I have got here just about the right number and type of friends, I am doing more sports than I was doing in my university years and I have just about the right amount of pain and dissatisfaction in my life which is required to keep the life in balance. Yes, I chose a relaxed life over a hectic but most likely rewarding career. (Some pople might say what a shame!)
Before going to further discussion, please let me clarify what I mean by the phrase dream life in this post. By saying dream life here I mean you are living your non-working hours in the way you really want.
So, dream life and dream career, are they mutually exclusive? For most of us, I think, Yes. The definitions of both of the terms dream life and dream career are quite subjective. However, one thing is for certain that, a dream career does not necessarily mean an easy career and more often than not, pursuing a dream career interferes with personal or after-the-work-hour life. A dream career often pays a very handsome salary but does not pay you enough time to live a relaxed life. If you are a reader of Harvard Business Review sort websites/blogs/magazines, you must find a lot of talking and writing on work-life balance. I think if you claim you have work-life balance I would say you are doing something wrong. Your work and your life do not care about your work-life balance. More often than not you will find your office tasks and personal chores are overlapping and if you stick to your work-life balance thingy, then I am not sure if its a good thing from a holistic view of your life.
Instead of work-life balance we actually need work-life priority. Stay at office longer hours when you need to. But do not sacrifice your after-the-work-life staying at office longer hours just for the sake of illusive promotion and to show off you are working hard. If your promotion is based on this sort of show-off thing then you are doomed, and so is your employer!
However, I know that for most of the people staying at office longer hours is not a choice, its a MUST. And unfortunately if that’s happened to be a requirement of pursuing their dream career, then for those people dream career and dream life are certainly mutually exclusive. All that said, perhaps the one and only way to lead both dream career and dream life at the same time is to become a successful entrepreneur. In this case you can allocate your 24 hours time according to your priorities. If you work for someone else, you simply cannot do that (there might be some exceptions but I have never heard of any so far).
I am not discouraging pursuing dream career while sacrificing dream life. In fact dream career is at times a part of a dream life. However in that case your “dream life” is actually in the future. You are thinking your dream career will take you to your goal someday and then you will have a dream life. Talk to some old and rich people. You will find that most of them had the same plan and that turned out to be a wrong plan.
My final point is that, you should have either a dream career or a dream life while you are in your 20’s, 30’s and 40’s. If you are in your 20’s – 40’s and still have none them, then perhaps it’s time for you to think about it seriously!