Everyday Reading: Dream Jobs

February 27, 2013

Dream Jobs

I started reading 168 Hours: You Have More Time than You Think this week and it's fascinating. I'd highly recommend it so far.

There's a big chapter about how one of the best things you can do is get in a job you really enjoy so that you don't spend 40-50 hours of your week doing something you wish you weren't doing.

One of the things she suggests is making a list of 100 Dreams you have in your life, from the wildly improbable (one of hers is to write a fiction series that makes Harry Potter look like small potatoes) to the very doable (keep a stash of chocolate on hand, visit the bakery next to your office, etc). The idea is that you can start with some of the very easy ones and get a taste for doing things you love and also figure out what things you like in theory but actually aren't very fun for you (this is sewing anything above a hem for me - I love the idea of sewing, but I find actually sewing one of the most frustrating things I can do with my free time).

Bart and I were discussing all of this the other night, and we started talking about dream jobs and what your dream job would be if there were no limits (say, you wanted to be an astronaut who walks on the moon, despite the fact that 1) you have no science background or aptitude and 2) NASA doesn't even do moon landings anymore). 

I think my dream job would be to work as the creative director for the food section of a big magazine. I think I'd love working with food on a constant basis, testing recipes, learning more about styling and photography, and getting to work with a team of people who are really into food too. I'd like it to be a magazine that focuses on real and interesting food, like Martha Stewart or Everyday Food or Real Simple. I'm not very interested in semi-homemade items or things to be dashed together at the last second.

I love books, but I mainly like to read them for fun and then talk about them in a pretty casual way. I don't want to professionally review books, I don't want to edit books, I don't want to write books.

When I was a librarian, I realized that I don't particularly enjoy teaching (some school librarian jobs are more teaching than others - I had one that was extremely heavy on the teaching side), I'm not great with kids, and I really didn't like that I was the only person in my entire school that did my job. I envied the teachers who had the other teachers of their grade to work closely with on a daily basis. The best days of the year for me were when we had district meetings and I got to spend time with the other librarians from the district.

I hear fairly frequently that a school librarian is someone's dream job and I think. . ."It was fun enough, but it turned out not to be my dream job. I'm not at all anxious to go back."

I do have an Internet friend who does collection development (children/YA) for a big library system. She picks what books they'll order (hello, reading a lot and also reading a lot of professional reviews, which is one of my favorite things to do). She works with the librarians at other branches to help them build their collections and weed old books. She doesn't work much with patrons at all.

When she told me about her job, I thought, "Now THAT could be my dream job."

But maybe I'd do that and find all sorts of things about it that I didn't enjoy either.

I'm now tempted to ask everyone I know what they think their dream job would be. Because I'm too introverted to go around asking nosy questions in real life, I'll just ask you lovely  non-scary readers from the safety of my computer desk - what job do you think would be the absolute most fun in the world?

48 comments:

  1. Wow! Fun post. I think I would like to be a high school English teacher who later moved on to training other teachers. I have so much passion for teaching that I feel like could rub off on other teachers. I'm slightly hesitant about this dream though and I'm not sure why. My other dream is to be a writer or editor. But I know that I could only so it part time, because I'd go crazy not being around people.
    Alesha <3

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  2. Ooo I love this! Let's see... Personal stylist (I love shopping for other people)... Something on Broadway (you did say impossible :)... Or, more realistically, a college English professor, a full-time writer, or an editor, since the only thing I love as much as writing is improving others' writing!

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  3. I interned or worked at a bunch of different types of libraries in college and grad school so I could be sure what I wanted. I figured out - school library NOT for me, academic library NOT for me, and although I enjoy cataloging, I got bored doing it 35 hours a week. Being a youth services librarian in a small public library was always my dream starting when I was about 12 and although I've hit some bumps and have days when I just want to quit, it's still my dream job! I hope to transition into collection development at some point in the future - say, 20 years down the road (-:) but I don't know if that's feasible since I work in a very small library and I'd have to get a big system to hire me. Preferably in Washington, as that's another of my dreams (-:)

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  4. I'm blessed to really enjoy my current job a lot (readers' advisory/reference librarian at a public library), but since we're going for big dreams here...I'm going to steal travel writer (above) and also add professional musician or a librarian at a really unique and cool special library, like one of these:
    http://www.barbican.org.uk/visitor-information/barbican-library
    http://www.stpauls.co.uk/Cathedral-History/The-Collections/The-Library
    https://www.cia.gov/library/

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  5. My dream job would be travelling around like Rick Steeves or those other tv show hosts; travel around the world, see cool things, and eat awesome food everyday? Sign me up!

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  6. I have to say, if there was a job where I got paid to read books of my choosing and write/tell like-minded people about them, then that may be my dream job. Bonus if it includes a couch, fireplace, fleece blankets, a mountain view and unending hot cocoa.

    Or maybe the second dream job would be to be a lecturer at a college -- getting to do more research and reading on a specific topic, and then working with college students.

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  7. Fun! I majored in public health and I loved it while I was in school, but since I've been out I've come to think it's not exactly right for me.

    I think I'd go with being a writer full-time. I've been working at it part time for the past year and a half or so, and I seriously love it. I'm pretty close to getting ready to query agents, I think. We've got about 3 months till hubby finishes his masters, and then hopefully he lands a job that pays him enough of a salary that I can take a few months (or more?) to try writing full-time before we decide to have kids.

    Other than that, I have always wanted to walk on the moon. And be on Broadway. Maybe if we could set up some Broadway musical ON the moon?! And I've always wanted to start up a tiny school in Africa. And if I could somehow travel the world with my job, exploring new places, that would be bomb too.

    Whew. Looks like I've got a lot to do. . .

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  8. I'd be a Broadway star!!! Someone like Sutton Foster with the voice of Sarah Brightman. Oh yes!!! OR I'd like to be a curator of animal research. I love anything having to do with research....

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  9. I'm going to be devil's advocate for a bit here: what if, instead of trying to figure out what our dream job is and act accordingly, we chose a career and learned to love it? I read an interesting piece in the NYTimes a while back about just this. The author had graduated college with 3 very different, viable career options ahead of him. He said, that instead of trying to figure which one made him happiest, he chose one and committed to loving it. Because let's be honest, we can't and won't all be in jobs we love. (like me) It would be great, but it's not feasible. So we learn to love it and find things we like about it. (like me) This is me arguing against the book, NOT your post.

    I LOVE dreaming of fun jobs I'd do. Do it all the time. My uber dream job (as in don't have the skills) would be to be a professional dancer. My medium dream job would be to travel and write travel books (or have someone else ghost write them for me). My maybe-attainable dream job would be to be a personal finance consultant. I love telling people what to do, I love budgeting, and I love saving money. Yup, I'm that cool.

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  10. This is fun to consider. My top three dream jobs would be...
    1) Television screenwriter - Preferably for a fanciful show like Pushing Daisies!
    2) Travel/food writer - Get paid to travel and eat and write? That would be perfection.
    3) Broadway Star - I'm much more suited for ward choir, but if I could do ANYTHING, it would involve me singing and dancing on Broadway.
    (Now I want to start working on my list of 100 dreams.)

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  11. I'd like to have a career as a college student. Homework optional.

    And @Gretchen Alice, I think you should pursue your dream of writing shows like Pushing Daisies. That was one of my all-time favorite shows and I'm so sad it was cancelled!

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    1. Homework optional! Haha! That'd be great. I told my husband once that I wanted to audit all the classes from the great professors at Georgia Tech, so I could learn cool stuff and not do the horrible homework.

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  12. Oh man, I've got a few. I've always thought I'd probably enjoy working in the film industry. Assuming this is a different world in which I was very talented, maybe as a director?

    NatGeo travel writer. Traveling and writing? Sign me up.

    I've discovered from being in YW that I actually really enjoy teaching. So I'm sure there's a dream job there, though I'm not sure what it would be.

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  13. Heavens, what a timely post for me! I've been doing a job I often actively dislike for 4.5 years now and am finally able to start thinking about that cliche "what I want to do with my life." And I'm drawing a blank! I want to be a freelance writer - but having done it I know exactly how hard it can be (plus it's an incredibly tough time right now to be relying on your pen!), so I'm really intimidated to try to jump into it again. Part of the Mysterious Project I've been working on is giving me an insight into the administrative side of the writing world, and I'm discovering I really enjoy it, so maybe working for a publishing house or magazine or website in day to day support capacity while I freelance on the side and try to write a novel someday.

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  14. I always wanted to be a waitress. Silly right? Because it is something I could probably do if I applied :). My husband doubts my coordination to carry those big heavy trays filled with food without dropping it... and he might have a point. But the people interaction sounds so fun. I like beign on the go like that too.

    In truth my favorite (paying) job ever (and that I have a hard time imagining beating) was working at the MTC. I loved it so so much. I love LOVE teaching and it was the perfect class size with the perfect class length (8 hour teaching days? Too long, too much lesson planning) with the perfect curriculum. Too bad I can't go back. Sigh.

    While I did really love teaching high school, it was incredibly stressful and time consuming. maybe that's because I only really did one year? Maybe part time teaching would be more up my alley?

    I'll just stay home with my kids, thanks. I love our totally free schedule, coming and going as we please. Having time to read books, bake or cook, sew, and play endless dress-ups with some hilarious little people. There are definitely stressers, but so many positives that I would be devastated if I had to give it up and actually get some kind of paying job right now. Just the thought almost makes me panic. So maybe I'm doing my dream job :). Cliche but true.

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  15. This is such a great post! I've spent A LOT of time thinking about my dream job and if I can go about doing it. Most of my dream jobs revolve being a consultant because I love having attention on me, being bossy and helping people improve their lives. I would love to be a dating/life coach, professional organizer or teach teachers on how to teach better. I actually might be going back to school to make that third one happen!

    Also, I really like what was said in an earlier comment about committing to loving your job. Every job will have it's drawbacks and so we could always find something we hate about each job. Even our dream jobs! But it's important to find joy in what you are currently doing.

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  16. I want to run a non-profit to help women in the US and the developing world. I want to fight against domestic violence, abuse of women, and try and change some of the freakishly backward attitudes of the general public towards the worth of a woman. I want to incorporate education for women (Kindergarten thru college graduation, and public health resources, and create places for women to go where they feel safe and can learn about algebra or engineering or midwifery or biology or nutrition or whatever.

    Yep, that would be my dream job.

    xox

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  17. Ideally I'd love to teach 1-2 community college humanities classes per semester. I actually did this during grad school and I loved it, but it's not particularly feasible as a full-time career. I'm also very happy with my current career as a university career counselor with lots of control over programming and developing new programs and resources.

    For me, any dream job would be part-time (with full-time salary and benefits, of course). I have too many interests to be able to devote all of my time and energy to one thing, even if it's a job a love.

    Travel writer looks like it's a popular one, and I would have definitely listed it as one of my dream jobs a few years ago. As much as I love to travel, I've come to the realization that I love routine too much to really want to travel as frequently as a travel writing career would demand. An international vacation every year or two is sufficient for me.

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  18. That sounds like a really interesting & thought provoking book. I'd say my "dream job" would be something along the lines of a Kimora Lee Simmons or a Heidi Klum--I would have loved to model and then become a "brand" so to speak and actually deal with the fashion, the runways, designing clothing, etc.

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  19. My sister has a friend who worked at Sunset Magazine. Her job was to go on weekend getaways around the West (all expenses paid, of course) with her husband. Then she would review the hotels/inns they stayed in and restaurants they ate at. This would prove difficult with kids, but it is still my dream job.
    Also, I wonder if you would enjoy being a school librarian more now that you have kids.

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  20. this is such a great post..i've always thought my dream job would be working at a magazine, i have loved magazines forever...but now i think maybe more on the online publication side would be a smarter move. it's so true about finding something you love since you spend so much time doing it! i'm not in my dream job by any means...but i like my coworkers and company, so there's that at least! :)

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  21. Thanks for the post, and the book recommendation! My boyfriend is actually struggling to find his dream job right now (he's in finance, and very unhappy). I think this book is just the thing he needs right now.

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  22. I think my dream job would be to be a fitness instructor at a small gym. Seems pretty low pressure, a positive environment, and you would get your exercise in.

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  23. This is so much fun. I had to do an exercise like this in college in my "career exploration" class. The entire semester of that class was a joke except this exercise.

    My complete dream job: In the morning I would read books to recommend to Oprah to for her Book Club. During lunch I'd play in a basketball league with my co-workers; it would be fun but not super competitive. Then in the afternoon I would create window displays for Anthropologie. That complete job doesn't exist, though.

    Something that I've thought about doing is opening a wedding and reception venue. I actually have it pretty well planned out in my head (except where to get the money, ha!), but I just can't bear the thought of giving up Saturdays and Sundays with my family and let's be honest 90% of weddings are on Saturday and Sunday.

    I wouldn't want to do it as a career, but I think it would be perfectly amazing to be a rock star for one night and play to a sold out stadium with people screaming, dancing, and singing along as loud as they can.

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  24. Someone at my church gave me this book (apparently the author is the daughter of a church member or something?) and I hung onto it because someone at NPR liked it, but I haven't read it yet.

    Now I will.

    Thanks for that. :)

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  25. I think my dream job would be to translate English books into German, that way I could get paid for reading books and write nice things without having to make up the plot :)

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  26. What a fun question! I'm not even sure what I would do! Ever since I was a kid I've loved to draw up floor plans for houses, and I had planned to study architecture until I accepted the fact that I am TERRIBLE at math and it all just wasn't realistic for me. So maybe not quite an architect, but some kind of home designer.

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  27. Ooohhh. I would own a children's bookshop! And have no worries about staying afloat. Just happy children entering each day wanting to listen to and share books!

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  28. I still want to go back to teaching some day, because I do love it, but probably only part time (because it's super exhausting). I'd spend the rest of my time writing (preferably getting paid for it, unlike the writing I do now.) Basically, anything that makes me feel like I'm using my brain, pays real money, and lets me be home for my kids would be an ideal job.

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  29. I'm an "old" lady, and I still don't know what I want to do! LOL Really, I would love to be a professional genealogist, minus the crabby people, of course. Having to tell a person that he or she really isn't directly descended from someone famous is. not. fun.

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  30. I love this post! My dream job would be serving as editor of American Girl magazine or a similar lifestyle magazine for teens/young women. I absolutely love editing and designing layouts (and I'm a control freak, I'll admit), so I can totally see myself doing this.

    Also, my mom is an elementary school librarian, and one of her biggest gripes is that she is one of the only people at the school who does her job, too! She's perpetually frustrated by teachers who don't teach students how to read and just send them to the library for her to deal with them. I think being a librarian would be incredibly hard, especially if you don't enjoy being around kids all day (and I definitely don't, either). Glad you've figured out what you like and what you don't!

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  31. My ultimate dream job would be teaching business skills to women in third world countries - working for a charity like Women for Women International. I am dreaming right now of opening my own business- a candy/ice cream shop/happy place, or of being a personal financial advisor and teaching financial skills to middle school and high school age kids (not in a public school- in my own private classes).
    I also think I would love to be a gardener someplace beautiful. I love to dig in the dirt and see beautiful flowers bloom and vegetables and fruits grow that I had a part in. I would love to learn how to prune shrubs in interesting shapes and grow espalier fruit trees.

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  32. My dream job is having my own boutique...of any kind. I have always wanted Meg Ryan's "Shop Around the Corner" on "You've Got Mail". I think that would be so fun. I have started on my dream...I have a booth space at a local boutique where I sell jewelry and accessories like hats, sunglasses, bags and wallets. I LOVE it and wish I could figure out how to make the move to my own store...one day.

    My daydream...no chance of happening dream...would be to act in movies. Good ones. And win an Oscar.

    I also want the dream job mentioned in one of the other comments...traveling around with my husband, all expenses paid and then reviewing hotels and resorts and restaurants. Yes, I could definitely get into that. I would love to take my kids with me too and review "kid friendly" travel spots. Yes, that'll do.

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  33. I know what you mean about being the only one in a school that does your job. As a speech-language pathologist, I was the only one in 2-3 schools that did my job. Thankfully I was assigned to the same schools from year to year, and I made teacher friends I could socialize with whenever I wasn't doing paperwork through lunch (rare). But if I needed feedback on something job related, I had to pick up the phone to call a colleague.

    I look back on my time in the schools fondly, but like you, I'm not eager to go back. Maybe when my kids are school-age I'll reconsider.

    I've said for a long time that my dream job would be becoming a member of the Jeopardy Clue Crew. They travel all over filming very short bits for the clues and go into classrooms to play Jeopardy. Fun!

    I'd also like to do something more artsy, like interior or graphic design. That's what I love to do in my spare time.

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  34. I have several dream jobs....
    one would be working for Oprah magazine, reading and recommending books in her book section. I think I could pick out an Oprah book club book from a mile away.

    Despite the fact that there is no money in it, I would love to be a book concierge (a title I have thought up all by myself, and doesn't it sound impressive?), recommending books to people. I feel like once I know a person I do a pretty good job of recommending books they will like.

    Owning/operating an indie bookstore like the one in You've Got Mail looks pretty fun, although I'm not sure it would be all that much fun in real life.

    I really do like my job as a teacher librarian, but your friend who works on collection development would be a great job for me as well since I love reading reviews and finding new books that are coming out.

    I think I would like to write a book, but first I would actually have to sit down and get some words on paper - or computer- and since that hasn't happened, well, I don't think my future as a best selling author is going to happen any time soon.

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  35. I think I would really love to decorate homes, except that I would always want to decorate the homes the way I wanted them to be done. How rude of me right? =[ I love decorating but I think that if I always always had to follow a specific style or set of rules then it wouldn't be that fun for me anymore. I feel like it would be like telling an artist how to do their job - that's a no no. I also think that I would like to be an author except that I can't seem to get any of my ideas on paper... I would be really good at a being a professional dreamer though! =]

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  36. I was going to ask on Goodreads if you liked this book, and then Bam! you post about it like magic.

    Um, yes. I might have my dream job. I do like helping patrons, but being "on" for the public all day exhausts me, and I am strangely bad at face-to-face reader's advisory. I feel super-duper lucky that this job exists.

    But... I also spend like 75% of my time at my desk making sure that each of the hundreds of books we order each month has the right code in the right column which I suspect most folks would find completely loathsome.

    I used to feel very dreamy about any job where I could stay home, set my own schedule, and wear yoga pants, but right now twenty minutes on the train to sit in my office all day sounds preferable to a zillion little deadlines looming over my head. In fact, that sounds like grad school... which makes me feel like breaking out in hives.

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  37. I think I really was doing my dream job before I had Henry. I got paid to talk about a place I love to live and I got to use social media to do it. Also, I worked with really, really great people. It breaks my heart sometime to think that it's someone else's job now, but I know I made the right decision in staying home with my baby and hopefully I'll be able to find a job I like even better when he's a bit older.

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  38. I would be a scuba instructor, for sure. Not like one here in Utah. Somewhere in the Caribbean. I used to say marine biologist, because I love studying animal life and just being in the water, and that would be fine too :) I just want to be in and near the ocean (any ocean) all the time. That being said, I guess if there were no restrictions it would be pretty boss to be a wildlife photographer. Yes, indeed. But, becoming a scuba instructor is actually in the realm of possibility. Once I raise these kids and move to the Caribbean and become decent at diving myself :)

    Recently though I've developed another dream job. To write for a television series. Maybe I watch 30 Rock too much, but I wouldn't mind just being a miniature Tina Fey.

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  39. I might be late to the party, but I love that you made me think about this.

    Dream job highly unlikely: Joy's job from Oh Joy (the blog). I'm not sure exactly what she does, but it seems to involve graphic design, working with very creative people, wearing beautiful clothes and getting your picture taken while eating at fabulous restaurants. Sign me up, baby!

    Dream job kind of likely: as an undergrad, all of the documentaries in my Women's Studies classes were super outdated (like from the early 80s), and I decided that my dream job would be to update them with my husband: he can film/edit, and I can research and be on camera. We'd get to travel the world together! (Think "Half the Sky," but without the celebrities). Still holding out for this one.

    Dream job based on current skill set: to work in the communications branch of any public health organization (for- or non-profit). Right now I work for the AZ Dept of Health Services, but not in the Comms department which is where I would like to be :)

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  40. I really love the job I have now (I've been a vet tech for 15 years). Sadly, the field as a whole does not pay well and it would be extremely hard to support a family on the salary. So while there is lots to be said about having a job that you love, there is also much to be said about jobs that pay the bills. I know you are speaking hypothetically, but I sort of agree with Erica. Changing careers isn't always an option, and rather than spending 40-50 hours a week hating what you do, find a way to make it work for you.

    That said, if I had to choose another profession, maybe I would have gone into zoo medicine or epidemiology.

    168 hours is on my to-read list. I'm curious to see what you think about it, considering some of the reviews I have read.

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  41. Very fun post. I don't know if this could be considered a job since it's done on a volunteer basis. Either way, I saw a special on a group that consists of volunteers who takes their certified therapy dogs into hospitals to work with groups such as psychiatric units, burn victims, children with traumatic brain injuries, etc. I love dogs and I love working with people--especially people who need help. I think this would be my dream job. So even though I have a degree as an accountant and that's my dream job right now because it gives me the flexibility to be a stay at home mom, but keep up my skills and earn some spending money during his naps, working with therapy dogs is sort of my retirement dream job.

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  42. Is it wrong to wish for no job as my dream job? If my mortgage was paid, I would spend my time volunteering in animal shelters, teaching finance classes, packing food baskets for the hungry, and mentoring at-risk kids . . there are so many great causes out there that can't afford to hire the people they need. And those organizations are the ones I'd most like to help :)

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  43. I picked up this book right away on B&N based on your review.

    In all honesty, I am studying right now to be a personal trainer and I think that or a group fitness trainer would be a pretty sweet job. Especially since I love working out but I don't have the energy to do a 9 to 5 most of the time.

    Or like I said above, I would love to audit classes. Learning without the homework? Win!

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  44. This is so interesting to me! I like the idea of making a list of dreams. You better believe I always have chocolate on hand... you never know when a blizzard could hit!!

    My dream job? Stay-at-home-mom with a heavy dose of personal photography and perhaps some commercial freelance.

    I sure wish you wanted to go back to work and lived in Mpls because my work just hired a new design director. I don't know how it works at other places, but at my job the design director is over the art directors, photographers and freelance illustrators and photographers. That role is really neat because you basically put the entire magazine together and in my view are responsible for the entire feel of that issue. I know it's really demanding and difficult. Art director has always been one of my goals, but it takes like 10 years to move up the masthead.

    You would be excellent in publishing, too, I think. :)

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  45. I've been thinking a lot about this lately as some days I want to punch my job in the face. I would LOVE to own my own bakery, let my creative juices flow while baking, make my own hours, please people with treats...so great. I would also love to own my own flower shop even though I know nothing about horticulture. I just love how flowers can cheer someone up or give them a bit of comfort and they can be just so pleasing to the eye. And of course I would love to write the next Harry Potter series but I just don't know if I have the patience for that...

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  46. Wow. I loved this. I have NO idea what my dream job would be. I'm going to think about it.

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