You can’t ask me that!

Have you left it too late to try for your dream job?

Continuing her series on socially unacceptable questions, Christine Manby asks what it would take for us to get to where we really want to be

Monday 11 March 2019 18:42 GMT
Illustrations by Tom Ford
Illustrations by Tom Ford

What did you want to be when you were a child? A police officer? A doctor? A dancer? A superhero? And how did that plan work out? Are you reading this at the end of a thoroughly satisfying day apprehending criminals or removing rogue appendices? Or did you abandon your dream of donning tights every morning before heading out to protect the good people of Gotham for an occupation that largely involves filtering a thousand group emails to find the one action point that’s actually relevant to you?

You’re almost certainly in the latter group. According to a survey by UK job site Fish4Jobs, as many as a third of UK employees spend around half their working hours resenting their occupations. When you add those hours up into days, that’s an ugly amount of discontent. The people of Wolverhampton are more fed up than most, with 60 per cent of respondents from the city claiming to be unhappy at work. Perhaps predictably, the most miserable workers are customer service executives with hospital employees coming in a close second. Perhaps “doctor” isn’t such a dream job after all.

But if you don’t like what you do for a living, what can you actually do about it? As a small child, the sky’s the limit when it comes to choosing a career, but in the UK, our education system means the options start to narrow at 14, when we choose subjects for GCSEs. By the time we’re 21, the choices have narrowed again – “You got these qualifications so you can do this, not that.” By the time you’re 40, it can seem as though the future is set in stone.

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