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Theme for 2010: Don’t Look Back

What Price Would You Pay For Your Dream Job?

Last week I was working with a client on their job descriptions. What I mean is, we were rewriting them because the descriptions sucked. Sucked bad, like all job descriptions do. Fortunately they knew it so the process was easy.

I was working with their VP and during this writing process she said, “What’s your dream job?” A really neat conversation to have and we decided to write what that job description would like.

Things I included were:

- Being a Recruiter (nit not the account management side)

- Creating relationships, being an evangelist

- Involved in the local business community and groups

- Helping job seekers

- Doing some training, teaching

- Being able to try and experiment with new things and ideas

- Be on a team that is more like a family

Yesterday I received a call from her that I should expect an email while we were talking. Sure enough I here the chime and open it up.

Moved about what I want to do and the way to do it she had passed it on to their management team and it’s a job offer for exactly the description (plus a couple of things) that I wrote.

Because of some non disclosure issues I cannot get much into it but really that part is not so important anyway.

There it was in writing including a salary (which I have not had in 12+ years), some perks, a sweet office and location, and the stability I guess I have never really felt being on my own.

But with it comes an expectation of 60 hour weeks and a 3 year commitment.

So that gets me to the question, what price are you willing to pay for your dream job?

Friends close to know me are aware that I have been running a marathon as a sprint these past three years. ’07 was about all the ideas that were running through my head and experimenting with all of them, quick to discard and add new ones. ’08 was about narrowing that down and going deeper with them. The goal for ’09 has been to filter that down more so when 2010 starts I can be focused on just a couple of things.

Because I want my life back. I long for some time when my mind is quiet, when I do not wake up at 3 am with an idea that needs to be thought about. Or staying up until 3 am because I cannot settle down. I want to be able to spend time with family and friends and not be thinking about what I have to get done when I get home.

I made a rational decision three years ago to do this marathon/sprint. Knowing what I know now then I would do it again. I have enjoyed this. It was good timing for me personally and professionally. It allowed me to get a lot of stuff out of my head that had been making noise for a long time.

But I am not willing to do it again, at least not now.

I have been looking forward to slowing down, to get away from the constant buzz in my head. Making a near term commitment of 60 hours a week is just too much to do. I just ran a marathon with the goal of crossing the finish line and taking it slow for a while.

Two years ago or two years from now this would be awesome.

I went for a long walk last night and realized I am for the most already doing my dream job. I looked at the job description and am doing all that. Maybe not to the level I want but I am on the path.

What is missing is some stability. I guess most freelancers, consultants, “one man bands” feel this way.

I made the call this morning and I politely declined. The VP and I had a long conversation. We went through responsibilities, pay and expectations to see what could be changed.

At one point I was quiet, not something I normally am. It was that really awkward pause.

And she said something that took the weight off my shoulders. She said,

“Paul, I know you well enough to know you want this. I know you hesitate because you do not want to say yes and then not be able to complete the race. And I know your heart and mind are in other places now and that is a benefit to you, your family, friends and your business too. You will be able to do more by doing less. I told our executive team that you taking this job would be the biggest mistake you could make. What I suggest you do is keep doing what you are doing, find ways to make it easier and stop going off on tangents.”

Then she said the one thing many friends have told me (over and over again) over the years but this time it was like a two by four to the back of the head,

“You need to allow yourself to ask for help. You need to tell people you need a hand. You need to be OK with others doing for you what you have done for them.”

We agreed that while this was an awesome opportunity for both of us that the timing was not right.

I know this is going to get mixed reactions but I ask anyway, am I nuts? What price would you pay? What would you be willing to give to have your dream job?



You are a man of many layers Paul. The fact that you didn't sell out your dream for a pinch of security makes me respect you even more. As for the advice you were given, you know I'm around if there's ever anything I can do to help you.

HR Minion

You have to do what's right for you. If you are feeling overloaded now a new job is not going to take the pressure off. It's awesome that you got the opportunity but it's not like you will never get an opportunity like it again. Wait until it's right for you or it will quickly stop being a dream job. And I whole-heartedly agree you need to ask for help more!



I have to agree with the unnamed executive in this case. You would have to have been off your rocker to have accepted the job. Well, let's be honest, more off your rocker then you already are buddy.

I also agree that you do need to ask for more help and there is a hoard of people who are more than willing to help myself included.

Honestly, I can't say what I would pay for my dream job. I have not seen it yet. I know what it looks like in a lose manner but it's a constantly moving target because of changes I see in the industry.

Aaron Weiche

Paul- Thanks for sharing this experience and your thoughts on this. As a guy who interacts with you on Twitter, it's great to see the depth and passion you have in your decision making, work and life. Keep doing what you do with that passion and the right things will come your way ... they already are. Good for you.


Once again, you wrote it with grace and the insight that I hope to someday have. You are a walking representation to job seekers of how to live with passion, and a compass that isn't afraid to point to, "It's time for me."
Proud of you.



@amybeth - Would you say he is more like an onion or cake with his layers? (Shrek)

Paul - When you work for yourself, you hustle every day to make your job mold and fit to be your dream job. The theory is do what you love and the money will follow. So if the last 2 years, and looking ahead to 2010 are providing enough money for you and your family to be comfortable, then put forth a game plan to make the needed changes (and ask for help) to continue to mold working for yourself into "your dream job."

My guess is doing a job you love, where you're the boss, you are already putting in 60+ hours. So was it the time commitment of the new gig or was it that what you really want you already have, you just need to continue to shape it and mold it to fit with your changing family/friends goals?

Good luck. Good choice.

Account Deleted

Wow -- I really feel the internal battle, which I relate to. But I am on the other side looking out.

I have the stability but envy the freelancers. Difference is, nobody comes with a (non)job offer! I run that dialogue myself.

It seems you already have your dream job and have enjoyed the price you paid.

Ryan Mathre

Paul - Great post. It is obvious that you were torn by this offer but that you ultimately trusted your gut and made the right decision.

Security is nice (especially in this economy) but I'm not sure if a 3-year commitment and the regimented schedule is the type of security you were looking for.

As Henry Ford once said, "The only real security that a man can have in this world is a reserve of knowledge, experience and ability.”


Jason Lancaster

This is a great blog post for a few reasons, but my favorite is that you've managed to express a lot of things I think and feel on a regular basis...which is something I can't do myself. I'm going to send this to some friends and family members. Thanks.


Paul - you are NOT nuts for continuing on the path you have created. I think the job offer only affirms that you are doing the right things in order to be successful. Perhaps that is the push you need to take your own work to the next level?

Some people say, "the grass is always greener on the other side" and it is not too often that people have the courage to say, "MY grass is greener."

Good for you.

Tracy Tran

In my experience, I had a dream job 5 years ago at an organization I was interning in their HR dept. It was the greatest working experience I ever had. They had an opening for an HR Asssistant position and I was open to it, but knowing from the position first hand, I didn't want that job. Since then, I never had that same feeling.

My biggest mistake was going for the bigger offer. If I had felt so comfortable and knew there will be a few bumps, I would of apply and taken the job.

I've worked for another organization for 3 years and quit because the position wasn't suited for me.

I have my own company and although I started last year and got little business, I felt like an intern 5 years ago and met a lot of wonderful people on my own terms.

So, my advice is if this company is offering the same things or enhance it, take it; but if it's altered of not your liking, don't take it.

From the looks of it, you are doing fine on your own.


Life is too short to do what others want or expect of you.. you need to live your dream out the way you choose, and you are already blessed with a great network of support personally and professionally...from my perspective you are living that dream today and though the decision to stay the course is hard... I am sure when you look back you will be a much happier man! Best of luck to you in the New Year.. I look forward to taking part in and supporting you in the next phase of your dream!

Jennifer McClure

For someone who's recently copped to being lame on his blog - you have certainly come out swinging! :)

Great post and thanks for sharing this experience with your readers. By doing so, you've given encouragement to those who are living or pursuing their dream, but also exposed your thought process that each of us can model in choosing the best opportunity for ourselves.

As I was reading the bullet points at the beginning of your post, I was thinking - that's the job you already have! Sometimes it's all about your perspective...

Wishing you the best and most personally successful year EVER in 2010!

Minnesota Headhunter

Friends, thank you for stopping by and sharing your thoughts. It means a lot that you take the time to stop by. And even if you think I am NUTS not say it and stand behind me anyway :)

I did a second post today:
Theme for 2010: Don’t Look Back

I think I have spent so much time generally thinking, wondering, and pondering or worse worrying about what people think that I have been doing a lot of second and third guessing.

So while I care about what people think I am going to shed some of this weight. But do me a favor, if I get out of line say something.

There is someone I want to thank specifically for something she said and since she left a comment I want to thank her (again).

Kate, you have no idea how much your comment during your presentation that October morning impacted when you said, "You have to give yourself permission."

That is easily one of the most important moments of 2008 for me. Thank you, thank you, thank you.

So before I really start to ramble...

Happy New Year!!!


I had to run on the treadmill to think about the right answer. I'm in the same boat. We are kindred spirits. People come to you with opportunities when you're not looking. It happens.

So here we go.

Part of me totally agrees with you. Owning your own schedule and being responsible for your own success/failure is part of the American dream. If you don't have to compromise, don't.

Part of me thinks that sucking it up and building wealth is also part of the American dream. Working long, hard hours and sacking away money helps us to build stability and peace-of-mind when we are closer to retirement.

I worry about denial, Paul. I wonder if we're making brilliant long-term decisions based on principle or if we are blowing our chances because we are making emotional, short-term decisions based on fear and uncertainty?

Okay, I'll see you in therapy.



Yeah, I think you are nuts. But I thought that before this post. ;)

I also think you would stay up til 3, or get up at 3, even if you had that job. I think it's more your nature than your job.

I was offered a job shortly after I started my own company ( It was hard to turn down health insurance and stability (whatever that means). But after a day of thinking and talking with my wife, we decided to move forward on our own.

We could touch more people, and be affect our income more, on our own, than in a job. Not that either of those are impt to you, but they were to us.

Since then I've had a few other opportunities I've passed on and make the decision to NOT do them (bad english, eh?) were easy to make, and once I made them, it was easy to move on.

Opportunities come and go. Whether you work for yourself, or for a company (sounded like a great opportunity), you'll always be awesome. And, if they suck the life out of you, you'll figure out when it's time to leave. Because you know what it's like to be without, which is something that scares the ____ out of many people who have always had that "stable" job.

Good job expressing your feelings about this very difficult decision.

Amy Bryant

Sir Paul,

Sounds to me like you'd better write down your dreams for all areas of your life, 'cuz the universe is listening.

:O) Amy

P.S. Bravo to you for trusting your gut.


Nice revealing post, Paul. Good for you. First for being so good as to have aerned such an enticing offer and second for being so aware of what you want to refuse it.
Here is to an exciting new decade.

Bob Tarver


A great post, it makes you rethink what we as job seekers are really looking for within a job and a life balance. The post also shows what several of us who not only follow you on twitter & attended your webinars, you have a passion & a belief in what you are doing. Never lose sight of that.

When it comes to what I want in a dream HR job..would be a Director of HR position for either a Sports team or Casino Gaming company. each comes with its excitement ( and nightmares) HR for me has always been a 24/7/365 job ( minus vaca) I was a "on-call" guy new surprises...just need the right salary

Minnesota Headhunter

Laurie: I guess we will find out while in our rocking chairs what was the best way to go.

Jason: The good thing is if I am nuts so are you and now I have company.

Amy: Not so much my dreams but I have now added 2010 To Do's

GL: I am looking at you and trying to find your footsteps. Not gonna lie, I would like to get some percentage of the success you have had.

Bob: I look forward to the day when my friends are no looking for jobs and either I can stop doing the job seeker sessions or at least change them to how to find a job when you have a job.



Maybe your dream job should be as a writer.

I have come to know your energetic writing voice in 140-character bursts these last few months on Twitter. Now I see what happens if you remove the character limit. The flood gates open. Watch out! Authentic self ahead! Thanks for sharing your story in such a compelling fashion.


Julia Erickson

what a great post!

I'm struck by a couple of things: 1) you immediately manifested your dream job! and 2) it wasn't really your dream job because it didn't leave you room for other relationships and activities that are important to you. I will use this story with my clients to help them see the power of specificity, in all its aspects.

Thanks for sharing it with us. Julia

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