This week I am back in Auckland and I have been thinking a lot about dream jobs. I was talking to an amazing recruiter the other day. He said the following to me, and I felt his words cause a physical shift within my body.

“I can get you this job or that job. But Katie, you can do whatever you want. Have you really thought hard about what that is? Would you decide to go on holiday and then just show up at the airport and say book me on any flight I can get on? No, you would do your research and figure out exactly where you want to go and why. Your career should be no different. Don’t waste your talent.”

I walked out of his office and the words from Steve Jobs’ speech to the Stanford graduates rang in my ears…

“If you haven’t found it yet, keep looking. Don’t settle. As with all matters of the heart, you’ll know when you find it.”

And so, that is exactly what I am doing. Rather than always operating from my very busy and analytical head – the same head which often takes me in the direction of the safe option. The secure pay cheque and the certainty. Instead, I decided to follow my gut. To spend some time getting clear about exactly what I want. This meant turning down the good offer at the good company with the fantastic people. It meant swimming into the murky waters of temp contracts and salary cuts, with the knowledge that good is not good enough anymore. It must be great. It must challenge me every day. For this great thing, I am willing to forgo shoes and bags and real coffee and expensive dinners and travel. Short term sacrifice for long-term happiness – because I believe that once you find the thing you love doing, you can’t help but be successful at it. And then, all those nice dinners and shoes and travel won’t come at the price of hours spent doing something mediocre. We can always make more money, but we can’t go back and un-waste our years.

I’m fascinated by the idea of a dream job. I often wonder what the world would look like if we all got up excited for the day instead of indifferent. If we felt so much passion for what we did, that even on the bad days, we didn’t want to be doing anything else.

So off I go…

Einstein once said that insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results. So I guess we shall see whether taking the less-travelled path pays off. Maybe turning down a job could be the least insane thing I have done in a long time.

It occurred to me that getting clear about what we want to do in our careers should also be applied to every area of our life. If we don’t know exactly what we want, then we will have mental blinders on. Our perfect opportunity could pass by us and we won’t even notice it.

The brain is an amazing thing, but it is like a computer – we have to program it with what to notice and what to look for. We have to tell it what to focus on. But if you don’t know what you want, you risk living a life that is dictated by the opinions and advice of others. People who are not you and do not have the unique gifts that you do. Or people trapped by their own outdated ideas.

So I have devised a series of posts called Design My Life. Not only will I write about my journey to put these tips into practice, I will explain the research behind them. Also, when I started to put energy into getting my finances in order, there was a lack of sites targeted at kiwi women. Most were American, so a lot of the tips didn’t apply. Therefore, I will be writing about money-saving tips as well – god knows you need it if like me, you live in Auckland.

Looking forward to the bumpy ride ahead.

Next post –ย The Three Million Dollar Cheque

Much love XX

Photo: My own

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Hi, Iโ€™m Katie. I am a kiwi neuroscientist with a love for consuming and creating content. This site is where I share my personal thoughts and the thoughts of incredible minds from around the world. PhD in Neuroscience, University of Otago.

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