Business Entrepreneurship

“But I don’t know what my Dream Job is”

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Hey Newsletter,

If there's one piece of career advice that drives me crazy, it's "follow your passion."

Or should I say…

Follow your passion (cue sunset)

COME ON GUYS!! Just follow your passion and you'll (magically) get your Dream Job, more money you can spend, tropical beach vacations, etc, etc.

Remember, if you “do what you love, you’ll never work a day in your life!!”


Oh, you’ve heard that from a bunch of successful people at commencement addresses, and it actually doesn’t really mean anything when you dig underneath it? Oh, and as you thought about it, you realized that only a small subset of people — very, very successful people who get invited to speak at commencement addresses — give that vacuous advice, which is as satisfying as a Snickers but ultimately is meaningless because it obscures their hard work and luck…which people don’t really want to hear about?



Passion is not enough, no matter how much American culture beats it into your head. I’m passionate about hot sauces and ironing. There is no Dream Job out there teaching people who think black pepper is spicy how to iron your shirts so crisply that the crease cuts your face. Also, if you had asked me in my 20s what my passion was, I would have said drinking tequila with friends on Taco Tuesday. Again, not going to get me a Dream Job. 

This is why so many people eagerly lap up the “find your passion” advice, only to become frustrated as they try to figure out what the hell it actually means. As you start to realize it’s not actually that simple, you start to blame yourself. “Maybe I’m just not good enough…maybe I need to go on this beach retreat to ‘find myself’…maybe I just need to figure it out.”


There is another way, but it involves work — not some pithy postcard-sized saying.

In my career, I took different jobs. Some of them I really liked. Others I thought I'd enjoy, but when I tried, I found out they weren't a good fit. 

Over time, all of these little observations and experiences added up into clarity on the things I was passionate about.

Most people just sit around, waiting for inspiration to fall out of the sky. "What's my passion? How come no one gave it to me? Is there some BuzzFeed quiz that will tell me what it is?"

Sorry. That's not how passion works. 

THE BIG TAKEAWAY: Passion is the OUTPUT, not the INPUT.

This is a totally different reframe from how most people think about passion. If you embrace it, you'll find that landing a Dream Job you're passionate about doesn't have to be luck or a pipedream.

"But Ramit, I don't even know what my Dream Job is!"

Quick story: One day I asked people on Twitter: “Do you have a friend who has a Dream Job? What makes it their Dream Job?”

One of the responses was pretty haunting…

"Not a single person I know has their dream job."

Fascinating. I asked this person to tell me more. And they said…

"All jobs have their pros and cons."

Let’s think about what these students are REALLY saying. They’re telling me:

  • First, a Dream Job is “confined” by the whims of their employers. Notice the assumption that their employer is in charge of their careers. That’s AVERAGE APPLICANT thinking. YOU are in charge of your career. 
  • Second, they’re implying that a Dream Job always comes with compromises, like having to take less money or work more hours.
  • And finally: They don’t believe a Dream Job exists because they’ve never seen it!

Remember the old phrase, “You are the average of the 5 people you spend your time with”? If you’ve never seen a successful person, you don’t think it’s possible.

Same with finding a Dream Job. Some of the respondents had never seen a Dream Job, so they didn’t think it was even possible. 

And if you don’t know what a Dream Job is, how are you supposed to find it? 

I don’t blame anyone for not knowing what a Dream Job is because most of us weren’t raised to look for them — we were raised to “just be happy we have a job” and “take what we can get.” 

After speaking to thousands of people about their Dream Jobs, I’ve learned a few things about the barriers that hold us back from finding ours. 

It’s critical to understand your own psychological barriers around finding a Dream Job BEFORE you jump into the tactics. If you recognize any of these barriers, you’ll be MUCH more likely to land your Dream Job. If you don’t, you’ll keep trying to apply tactics, without understanding why they aren't working.

Let me share 3 mental blocks I’ve noticed that hold most people back from finding a Dream Job.

What IS a Dream Job? Most of us don’t really know

I've surveyed hundreds of thousands of people about what they want out of their career. The results are clear and consistent:

  1. The first is more money. Could be to pay off student loans or to build our savings or take an amazing vacation. 

  2. The second is a flexible schedule. Some of us care about working from home, or the freedom to go to yoga on Tuesday afternoons, or pick up our kids from school.

  3. And finally, we want to feel passionate about our work. We want to have a PURPOSE when we go to work.

But without a clear roadmap to get those things, we get bogged down by uncertainties. We start to ask questions like “What if I jump to another job and I don’t actually like it?” or “I don’t want to close any doors by choosing that industry…” We get so paralyzed that we just end up spinning and eventually do nothing. 

(Note: This is NOT how Top Talent searches for a job. The best candidates know where they work is one of the most important decisions in their lives…so they take it seriously. They spend time, they follow a system, and they are ACTIVELY involved.)

It’s just EASIER to do nothing.

Ask most people how their job is and what do they say?


Their coworkers? “They’re fine.” 

Their projects. "Work's work." 

It’s not the most exciting job, but you can do it; and you get paid “okay.” If you're like most people, you have no BURNING complaints, except for that little nagging feeling in the pit of your stomach telling you, “Is this it? Is this what I was meant to do for the next 40 years?” Still, even that isn’t enough to make a change.

It's easier to just do nothing. So that's what most people do. No wonder they're stuck in the same dead-end career track year after year.

Keeping your head in the clouds.

When I ask people “What does your Dream Job look like?” usually they tell me things like:

  • “Oh, I want to double my salary while working 25 hours and never needing to check my email on weekends” (Read: fairy tale answers)
  • “I want to work with innovative, growing companies that add value by leveraging my unique management skills” (Read: jargon garbage)

I actually remember when I said that I wanted to work no more than 40 hours per week or on weekends. But then I got a job I loved and enjoyed the work I did. Suddenly the hours didn’t matter so much anymore!

People say they want all kinds of things. Just think about all the stuff your friends said they would want in a romantic partner. Now look at who they’re with today. Most of the time, they don’t know what they’re talking about.

Focusing on vague intangibles gets you nowhere. You need to get SPECIFIC about what you want.

Quick example from someone who's eager to grow their career:

BEFORE: “I’m passionate about working in the right organization with the right people in order to grow the fastest.” 

OK, I’m also passionate about eating salsa, but that won’t help me narrow down my dream role. The “right organization” with the “right people” doesn’t tell you anything! 

What does a more specific answer look like?

AFTER: “I’m looking for a position as an Inside Sales Associate at a social networking company in San Francisco.”

This is so much better! Notice how specific it gets with the type of company and even the location. 

It will be much easier to find this role at this company than "the right organization with the right people."

Some people resist getting specific. They don't want to close any doors. So they stick to vague goals like “I just want to help people!” endlessly sifting through job board sites, and shotgunning out resumes to anything that “looks good.” Then they feel dejected when they never get a response.


By getting specific upfront, you’ll avoid the Spiral of Doom and land your Dream Job much faster. Don’t worry if you don’t know every detail yet. Figuring all of that out is part of the Dream Job System.


P.S. How about you? Do you know what your Dream Job is? Are you still looking? Reply to this email and let me know.

I Will Teach You To Be Rich



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