Lifehacker says to follow your skills rather than chasing your dreams.
There’s something to this. Two years ago I had a job writing security documentation. The CISO where I work now didn’t want to hire me because he was sure I already had my dream job and I’d just go back. On paper, it should have been my dream job, but I was beyond miserable. I was writing and editing for an audience of three people, and the environment was toxic. I woke up literally every morning thinking, “I didn’t study all day every day for three months to pass a 250-question 6-hour test to do this.”
Today I manage Windows patches. On paper it’s the most boring job in the world. But I’m happier than I’ve ever been. I’m up for the mandatory midyear review, and though I’ve only been at the job for four months, I have to provide a six-month review. I can’t fit my four months of accomplishments on a single sheet of paper. I wake up every morning ready to seize the day and accomplish something.
One of my colleagues asked me a question the other day. I started talking about MS14-021 and MS14-018 and how if you apply MS14-021 before MS14-018 you break stuff, and it sounds like that’s what happened to him. “Man, you’re way into the weeds,” he said, grinning. Yes. Yes I am, but it’s where I want to be. When I interviewed for this job, I told my interviewers I missed the technology. I think even I underestimated how much.
Here’s the difference: Everything I’ve done in this industry since I started working as a part-time desktop support technician in 1995 relates to what I do today. I solved these problems in other shops effectively in the past, and now I formulate strategies to do the same thing for a much larger environment. Maybe my company needs more people, maybe their processes need to be tweaked here and there, and maybe their technology does too. But the decision makers listen, they do what I recommend, and like I said earlier, what we’ve accomplished together doesn’t fit on a single sheet of paper. When we hit a wall, I re-evaluate, find one or more small improvements we can make, and see how things go for another month.
I think the other difference is the team I’m working on. It’s a good team–a very good team. But bringing me on meant they could move a more senior-level person into a new role that’s more challenging for him, since they could rely on me to do the day-to-day stuff he’d been doing. And I added an element that they had been lacking at my level.
If you’d asked me two years ago if this was my dream job, I would have said no, but that the job suits me. But now that I’m in it, the job seems made for me and me for it. And I think when you’re a good fit for what you do, and you do it at a high level, satisfaction will follow and you’ll be happier.