How to Find Your Dream Job (And Soul Mate)

by Alexander Heyne · 22 comments

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“I have this great job, with benefits, tons of money, freedom, and great hours… so why am I not happy?”

Someone recently asked me this question, and I realized that many people have asked me this question over the years. It is pretty perplexing after all – logically, it looks great on paper.

I have everything I’m supposed to want. Everything I should want, so why am I not happy?

***

The other day my friend shot me a text after going on a date with a new girl he had just met for the first time.

He had met her once before for just a few minutes, and told me how interested he was in this girl.

“Dude this girl is an awesome conversationalist, she has cool hobbies, she’s into yoga, she also does PR for work, she loves travel, and is crazy exciting. Oh… and she’s blazin.”

My friend was obviously pretty excited about meeting this girl and getting her number, so I asked him how the date went a few weeks later.

“Dude. Flatlined.”

Me: “What?!”

“She looked great on paper – if I had a checklist, she had it all. But when we went out to dinner and hung out after, there was absolutely no spark, no connection. It was the weirdest thing. I felt like I should be attracted to her because it was all there, but I wasn’t. What the hell man.”

***

Finding your dream job is a lot like finding your dream partner.

No matter how much he/she looks great on paper, it just won’t work unless it intuitively feels right and just works.

Just like my friend who met up with this girl who seemed perfect on paper, when he met her in person and hung out for a while, it was intuitively obvious that it wouldn’t work and he wasn’t into her.

Checklists, criteria, and standards – Oh my !

How many of you have these long checklists of standards, criteria, and qualities you want in a job or a mate?

Are they important? Yeah!

But should you base your search entirely on them? My opinion is no. Actually, hell no. Here’s why.

Intuition is one of the most powerful forces in your life. A lot more powerful than intellect.  If you ask me, intuition is nothing mystical – it’s just the brain sped up, processing many times faster than usual. It’s a snap decision, made with all the information at hand, before you can even process it. You feel it in your gut.

In fact, an entire book has been written on the subject by a lead police detective, called The Gift of Fear (highly recommended).

The entire book was based on one fact: Almost all of the people that are victims of crime had some kind of intuition about it before the event happened – the ones that ignored it were injured, raped, or murdered. The ones that listened to it survived unharmed.

From a less gruesome perspective, many of the best and brightest business minds talk about the importance of intuition over intellect.  And, well, since the entire start up world has a hard on for Steve Jobs, I’ll use him as an example:

This is from his biography:

“Coming back to America was, for me, much more of a cultural shock than going to India. The people in the Indian countryside don’t use their intellect like we do, they use their intuition instead, and their intuition is far more developed than in the rest of the world.

Intuition is a very powerful thing, more powerful than intellect, in my opinion. That’s had a big impact on my work.  Western rational thought is not an innate human characteristic, it is learned and is the great achievement of Western civilization. In the villages of India, they never learned it. They learned something else, which is in some ways just as valuable but in other ways is not. That’s the power of intuition and experiential wisdom.

Coming back after seven months in Indian villages, I saw the craziness of the Western world as well as its capacity for rational thought.” (emphasis mine)

Intuition and intellect have their own places in life.

The problem, as I see it, is that people spend too much time intellectualizing in the West and not enough time intuitively feeling what’s right. Decision making often becomes easy when you intuitively approach life.

Particularly with impossible decisions, people email me stuck and confused.

Do I stay or go?

Move across the country with my boyfriend/girlfriend?

Quit my job to start a business… even though I have no experience?

Drop it all to become a monk in Japan?

The problem with intellect is that you could make pro/con lists all day…. which is a real shitty way to make life decisions.

When your partner, your job, and your happiness and fulfillment in life are relegated to numbers or checks on a checklist… you’re doing something seriously wrong.

You’re doing it all wrong

I’m a huge fan of informal life talks with friends. In fact, If I had to list my #1 simple pleasure in life, it would be sitting down with people to a long dinner, plenty of wine, and just talking for hours about some kind of topic that is mutually interesting and has depth.

Naturally, someone ends up sharing some kind of story about a huge problem going on in their life, and we go back and forth about the pros/cons of each, weighing each side, and then the person ends up more confused than when we started.

Then I drop the bomb… “Intuitively, in 3 seconds, which path feels right? Even though it may be scary, unknown and uncharted? Even though, in the short run, it may make you miserable? Which path do you know you need to take?”

Without fail, people almost always immediately know the answer.

So how exactly do I go about finding my, uh “soul mate” and “dream job”


Alright, so how does this all relate to soul mates and dream jobs?

Let’s be honest, how in the hell do I “use” my intuition when there are 5,432 jobs showing up in a basic job search?

And how exactly do I go about finding someone I’m compatible with (if that hasn’t happened before)?

Here’s how:

  1. Narrow down the search via elimination
  2. Experiment… a lot
  3. Be patient

The path is really un-sexy, but it works better than anything I’ve found.

A. Narrow down the search.

Clearly you can’t just go down craigslist and be like “hmmmm, yes/no.”  That would take forever.

Instead, here’s what you do.

Remember this exercise? It’s basically a job search exercise from What Color is Your Parachute.

I talked about how to fill this thing out in the 5 most useful tools for figuring out your work in life.

Parachute the flower

This will help you narrow down the search.

Otherwise you have to potentially search through an uncountable numbers of jobs in business, finance, health, law, etc.

The first, most important step is elimination.

Eliminate things you definitely do not want, right now.

For example, I have zero-fucking-interest in doing anything related to law, anything related to being a NYC finance guy or banker, and anything related to accounting or statistics. That narrows my search a bit.

Then, B. you experiment.

Now, people seem to think that experimentation means “imagining what it would be like in your head.”

Uhhh, no that’s not experimentation.

Experimentation means getting some kind of job, temporary position, or physical daily experience in that potential job.

The amount of people that have emailed me about one of two career paths – without ever having tried either – is scary.

You will know very quickly whether or not you like something once you start doing it.

This is one of the biggest reasons I object to people going to grad school just for “shits and fuckin’ giggles.”  40k in student loans is shits and giggles? Potentially hating the job you get with that degree is shits and giggles?

A friend of mine recently moved to NYC looking to get into start-up life thinking it was the dream. The end. The goal.

… Except when he finally got a start-up job, he realized it sucked more than he could have ever imagined. It was boring, repetitive, un-glorious, and had lots of sales work.

Now imagine if he never tried it out, and just imagined being in a start-up versus, let’s say, joining the circus.

For months or years he would wonder which one he liked more, while potentially staying stuck in a job he hated, and never getting any answers. But all it would take is 30 days at a new job. Boom. Impossible question answered.

Another example:

I thought freelancing internet marketing for small business owners would be an awesome job. 1 on 1, a topic I know very well, and very meaningful if/when you help someone else succeed.

For months I considered quitting my job to do this thing full time, imaging how much fun I’d have and the freedom it’d give me (earning $75 an hour would mean I could work 1/3 or 1/4 or 1/5 the hours and still earn the same).

… And then I finally started doing it.

I got clients that bitched and moaned about everything. Clients that didn’t follow through. Clients that milked me and didn’t pay me.

… In other words, I didn’t know shit about freelancing. I had no idea about targeting a market, setting the bar high for my clients, and only dealing with ideal clients.

After three months, I was so drained by constantly looking for new clients, and dealing with the ones sapping my energy, that I never wanted to freelance again.  At least not the way I was doing it then.

Experimentation means DOING it… not thinking about it.

Fact: no matter how good or bad something seems in your head, those visions are all projections of reality and are not reality.

The most important part

What’s last? Patience.

People always tell you to chill out and enjoy the journey. The reason they say this, rather than being just a bunch of stoners, is that you can’t always control how fast the process happens.

This entire process of guess/test/refine takes time. And many of us go through 5, 10, 15+ jobs/relationships before finding one that works.

The key throughout it all? Use your intuition.

Otherwise one day you might wake up realizing you did all the stuff you should’ve done in life, without ever doing the stuff you wanted to do.

Thoughts, comments, douchebaggery, shenanigans? Hit me up below:

– Alex

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{ 21 comments… read them below or add one }

Steve Rice July 18, 2013 at 5:26 pm

MMM….delicious post, Alex!

I had to stop by because I wrote the last 2 weeks about “ideal” or dream job and wanted to get your take on the subject from a different perspective. I really love your treatment of this topic–especially the encouragement and giving people the permission to try something (and fail–a lot). I think that’s part of our Western rational mind you mentioned…we’re conditioned to weigh the options and avoid risk. Even when we know that failing “forward” is a good thing, we cower and stammer….”But why do I have to fail at all?!?”

I’m finding this advice to be even more and more fundamental to my own journey toward success. Another key aspect for me in the development of my own intuition is to really *own* it. I had to get to the point where I (internally–and occasionally externally) was willing to say, “F*ck it. This is the vision I have of my life. It doesn’t matter that I’ve failed or that I don’t measure up to your idea of what success means. I learned something powerful that I didn’t know before. I’m 100%-times more well-equipped. I’ve boosted my confidence 10-fold. Damn it, I’m gonna try again!”

I actually had to tell my partner, “It doesn’t matter how long it takes. Even if it takes my whole life, I’m gonna *get* this. I’ll figure it out. It’s my life”

Great insights and nice article. Thanks for getting the wheel crankin.

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Kamy July 18, 2013 at 9:24 pm

Confession: I don’t have anything intelligent to say in response to this (I’m kind of exhausted). But I just wanted to speak up and let you know that I really love reading your blog and that I really appreciate all your nuggets of wisdom.

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Alexander Heyne July 20, 2013 at 1:43 pm

Hey Kamy,

Awesome, thanks for stopping by!

Cheers

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Willow July 19, 2013 at 1:21 am

I just don’t know what to do. Five years ago I lost two of my siblings within a short time. I miss them both so much, but particularly my sister. She was my best friend. We were going to share a house and split expenses, because we were both going through rough times, including financially. But the illness we thought she’d gotten over came back, and she died. When she passed, I was on my own, devastated. She left me some money, but now it’s nearly gone because I had to pay off debts, replace my old car and our hours were cut at work, PLUS rent kept going up, etc. I HATE where I am but I”m so goddamn STUCK. I”m alone. I don’t have much debt but the idea of leaving this stupid job of mine and going elsewhere frightens me. I just don’t know what to do.

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Alexander Heyne July 20, 2013 at 1:45 pm

Hi Willow,

So what’s stopping you from mastering your money? Learning how to negotiate a raise? Earn money on the side freelancing?

Here’s a guy i’d recommend: http://www.iwillteachyoutoberich.com/

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Tim Frie July 19, 2013 at 9:23 am

Alex, I think it can be tremendously hard to really decipher through the expectations of what we’re “supposed to” do and get to what we actually want.

When I was working in health care right out of high school, I had a gut feeling. I intuitively knew that even though this was “supposed to” be doing a lot for me, I wasn’t feeling any of it. And I thought that, hey, this is life! I just have to man up and deal with it.

That mentality can only last so long. In my confusion, I quit my job, gave up my scholarship, dropped out of school, and started working towards opening a fitness boot camp/transformation center. I got certified, studied fitness marketing, got a coach, and started looking at locations. I had applied for a loan and was just about to sign the contract when I realized that wasn’t right either. I had spent thousands of dollars of savings and earnings from my other job to build this.

So I got another job working in health care doing the same work but in a different hospital. I had some more patient interaction – maybe that’s what I was missing! Nope. I quit that job, begged for my original one back (because I knew it was “safe” + easy for me), and then quit again after three months.

At present, I think I’ve reached a point of clarity. I recognize that entrepreneurship and building is a constantly evolving process that has no end-point. It still continues to be increasingly difficult some days just to ACCEPT that what me, you, and the others who have made a decision to live this lifestyle are going to be seen as renegades. A part of me still wants the 9-5, college life because it’s stable. It’s a system. I know I can do it. But the very thought of going back to that is more painful and exhausting than anything I can face from here on out.

Thanks for writing.

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Daniel Keith July 19, 2013 at 9:38 am

Well said! I never post coments anywhere ever!
But I thought hey this guys knows his shit, I am impressed so I will tell the world!
Awesome fucking post love your posts they are the shit! keep it up! sorry about all the !!! im fucking excited ok? Ya, so I look at my relationship and career that i’ve been debating for years!!!!! you know should I stay or should I go syndrome, then I look at the intuition part……
I need to fucking drop both of these parasites stat hahaha easy as pie!
This shit works!
Thanks and sorry for ranting!

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Alexander Heyne July 19, 2013 at 9:52 pm

Hahah no worries Daniel! I”m glad it really clicked with you man.

Cheers,
Alex

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Aziz Ali July 19, 2013 at 3:42 pm

Always great to read your posts. Thanks Alex

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Alexander Heyne July 19, 2013 at 9:51 pm

Thanks Aziz!

P.S. I never emailed you back I don’t think. Will get back to you this weekend!

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Mia watson July 19, 2013 at 10:30 pm

Love your article.

Constructive and concrete.

Not having worked in paid employment for 20 years, but working for myself, there is another aspect that is often prevalent.

Whenever i realise that what i am doing is not exactly what i want, i have to decide whether to keep going for a bit anyway to pay the bills until the new thing comes along, or leap into the void. The more i let go of, the less there is, and the more nothing. The nothing can be incredibly tempting to fill with something, but is just so painful if its the wrong something.

Our culture doesnt have much tolerance for doing nothing and being in the void or the unknown. Yet i have discovered such depth, courage and creativity from sitting it out until action arises of its own accord. First and intuition, an inkling, a silly idea, then a knowing i have to do it, and then doing. Its still scares me shitless every time to take the first step but once on the way things unfold.

When youre creating your own life rather than finding a job i think this ability is crucial to cultivate, and probably fear of it puts many off and forces them into predetermined jobs they dont really want to do.

Thank you for being someone writing on this uplifting and essential subject. I feel we all need each others insights to find our way. Every bit shed light. :-)

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Alexander Heyne July 20, 2013 at 12:59 pm

Mia you are absolutely right. The void is incredibly scary (I’m still in the void in some aspects of my life), and that whole fear of the unknown can be paralyzing. I’ve seen many people stay stuck in certain facets of their life for years or decades, because of that uncertainty.

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Sarah July 22, 2013 at 11:51 am

Well said, as always. I’m a HUGE fan of the intuition. I’m always fascinated to see what kinds of crazy things come together as a result of following it – it’s always amazing and never what I expect. Or maybe, on a subconscious level, it’s exactly what I expect, where by ‘expect’ I mean the positive possible outcomes that my rational mind won’t let me actually consider but which my subconscious realizes actually have great odds… something like that anyway.

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Candice July 25, 2013 at 6:38 pm

Ended up using intuition just today. I am just over 4 months pregnant and still hating my job since the day I accepted it (started on contract, changed to FTE) – that was nearly a year ago now. Didn’t want to accept it, but was too scared to not. Today after another panic attack (???) and crying fit, I wrote my resignation letter, took a deep breath and hit send. I’ve been at this job nearly 2 years and pretty unhappy for two years. If I’d used my intuition, I would have accepted the one that paid slightly less, but was 25 miles closer to home and just seemed to have a better (team) atmosphere. Some of it was I was wanting to leave for such a long time, but reading your article last night helped me decide I needed to do what was best for me and get out of a bad situation.

I don’t know what I’m going to do now (not really sure of the career path), but I am already feeling calmer that I did *something*.

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Alexander Heyne July 26, 2013 at 9:18 am

Hey Candice,

Good on ya! Keep me updated with how it goes, okay?

– Alex

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Parth July 31, 2013 at 2:55 am

A great post…..again. Actually, I have felt the superiority of intuition over intellect several times in my own life ( for e.g., choosing thing 1 when everyone around me was going for thing 2 which looked great on paper, but somehow I felt I am made for thing 1 only, or, not basing my decisions on intellect and experiences of others when I could just feel what was right, even if I could not explain the underlying logic.)

However, there is a strange question I was thinking about, and would be happy if I could know your views on it, before deciding intuitively.

What if a person ( actually, the person is me ) is doing something he likes, but suddenly he gets a business idea to solve an existing problem ( and believe the person, he did not go looking for it, but the problem itself came his way and to many others like him, and he realized no one was doing anything to solve it for others) ? If he goes for the business right now, he would give up his most favourite work, and if he waits, maybe someone else would capitalze on the idea. Is there a middle ground, or some other perspective to look at it?

And, by the way, your blog is just awesome. I found it out when I myself was beginning to realize the futility of “passion tests” and thinking it all through in head. These failed because I already knew the answer I was seeking, but was denying it just to get an answer I “should” want. Nevertheless, when I came to know about this blog, I became sure that there are bloggers who can say what they themselves have felt and experienced, in stead of just repeating cliches.

And please forgive me for the long comment. I am too lazy to comment often, and so wanted to say it all at once. But rest assured that someone, somewhere is getting joy by reading each word you have to share.

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Alexander Heyne August 3, 2013 at 10:59 am

Hey Parth,

Here are my thoughts: I definitely think there’s a middle ground. I’m a HUGE fan of keeping your day job while working on a side business – that’s what I’d suggest (and what I personally do).

I personally do my day job, come home, work on my side hustle for 2-3 hours, and then commit to that kind of schedule until/unless the side job gives me the income where I can quit my day thing. Virtually no risk which is why I like it.

Let me know how it goes okay!

Best,
Alex

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Tammy February 6, 2014 at 9:00 pm

I am glad that you are speaking about Intuition. The western world focuses on Intelligence so much that we stop listening to our gut feeling. Good point ‘Intuition and intellect have their own places in life.’ Each have both advantages and disadvantages you just have to choose the best one in different scenarios.

‘Experimentation means getting some kind of job, temporary position, or physical daily experience in that potential job.’ But what happens if after 30 days you do not like it? Do you just quit? Will persons looking at your resume understand your choice or feel that you are fickle? What about the loss of income while you experiment with another job? What about jobs that are during regular business hours? How would you try out those positions if you already have a regular full-time job?

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Alexander Heyne February 6, 2014 at 11:20 pm

Hi Tammy,

Yes, employers will view that a bit negatively – they don’t like to see job hopping on a resume, so I would leave it off. If you can’t literally try the job one after another – experiment by taking people out for coffee, skyping them, shadowing them at work to see what the work is REALLY like before you try it.

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Tammy February 10, 2014 at 4:18 pm

Hi Alex:

Thanks for the response. I had asked a few persons about various job roles and got some valuable information so I completely agree with emails, phone calls, coffee or skype.

However, I believe greater value comes from observing them in their daily life. I observed one such job role indirectly and unknowingly, and later when I gathered information I could compare it with what I saw earlier.

The main challenge is to job shadow them directly within their organisation and to explain that I do not want a job but just to observe. Employers might feel that I would be gathering too much critical information that they need to keep from competitors. What approach would you suggest I could try when approaching them about job shadowing?

Tammy

Bill Boteler June 18, 2014 at 10:15 pm

The whole online dating revolution goes against deep evolutionary traits in humans. We are attracted to people on a physical level. Okay, if that seems shallow, try this. We are attracted on the basis of intuitive cues that happen in face-to-face situation. No checklist or even a photo of someone captures this holistic event.
I guess this is why you have to meet the person since the whole computer thing is a guess. Maybe someone will come up with an algorithm that will capture you stone age attraction factors. But maybe the stone age is over.

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