I recently participated in an interview process to recruit young graduates into the company I work for. One of the questions I asked was “If money were no object, what would your dream job be?”
I expected (and wanted) to hear grandiose things, like “I want to be a professional sky-diver” or “My dream job is to travel the world photographing all its beautiful places”.
Instead I heard, “My dream job is to be a teacher” and “I really wanted to be an artist”. There is nothing wrong with being a teacher or an artist. When I was their age I wanted to be a teacher. It is just that with their university education, becoming a teacher or an artist is not something that is out of their reach.
I conclude then that it is a matter of economics.
That is why I did not pursue teaching like I wanted to. At that age all I could think about was getting a job, earn money to buy a car, a house, get married, go on holiday once a year and have enough to maintain the same lifestyle during retirement.
Off course this question is subjective and the interview situation is not a natural one. So it is only normal that a youngster in their last year of university, without any life experience, would say something within the confines of what is socially acceptable. Rewind a few decades, put me in the same situation and I also would have answered in the same way.
What’s happened to our grandiose dreams?
For me this year has been characterised by a common theme. I changed jobs to pursue a passion. I am still making good money. And yet I still feel a restlessness and a yearning for vagabonding around the world!
All of a sudden being part of mainstream society is no longer satisfactory (is this ever satisfactory to anyone?).
I read an article on Hunter S. Thompson which contained a letter written to a friend of his, who had asked him for advice on finding his purpose. This line has stuck in my mind – bold text not part of the original text:
“So if you now number yourself among the disenchanted, then you have no choice but to accept things as they are, or to seriously seek something else. But beware of looking for goals: look for a way of life. Decide how you want to live and then see what you can do to make a living WITHIN that way of life.” (Hunter S. Thompson)
There are people doing this, like the retired couple who are making their way around the world using Airbnb. All they carry with them is the pack on their backs and they stay in a place until they have explored everything they wanted to and then move on to the next place to explore.
Now I am not near retirement age but who says I have to wait until then to do this?
Serendipitously, I came across another gem. An excerpt of a lecture by British philosopher Alan Watts about what would you like to do if money were no object?
He suggests to forget the money and rather start with what you want to do. He says that:
“If you do really like what you’re doing it doesn’t matter what it is, you can eventually become a master at it…and then you’ll be able to get a good fee for whatever it is…somebody is interested in everything…anything you can be interested in you will find others interested in it.”
It is encapsulated in the 3-minute video below and it may set you thinking (or not).
I want to say to those young graduates to pursue their dreams, go and do what they desire, find the lifestyle they want and then figure how to make a living out of it. Would they believe me? I doubt it. At that age I would not have either.
If someone had told you this when you were just out of school or university would you have believed them?
What would you do if money were no object?