There are not many brands that I have an emotional connection with. I mean, my love for Excel knows no bounds, but aside from that my relationship with brands tends to be a lot more transactional. PANDORA however, PANDORA is the exception. You may know it as the Danish jewellery brand making memory filled charm bracelets, but for me it is what set me on my current career path years before I knew it.

Throughout university I worked at a jewellery store, three years of lectures in the morning and diamonds in the afternoon. It was a great introduction to working life …as working with customers often is. I learned that you can’t judge a book by its cover, you can always describe something hopelessly ugly as ‘unique’ when someone asks (and you don’t want to lose the sale) and most importantly that sapphires come in many colours but ‘ruby’ is the only sapphire to have its own name because it was prized in India.

About a year into my time selling jewellery we got PANDORA in the store. I think we were one of the first stores in NZ to be a reseller so it was a big deal. I loved selling it because you heard such incredible stories of love, achievement and hope as customers picked out their charms. My favourite was a guy who filled an entire bracelet for his wife of 50 years, with each charm representing an important milestone in their relationship. So many stories, so many tears.

So how did selling PANDORA predict my future career? For those who don’t know, after going down a few wrong paths I have ended up as a business analyst. It is the perfect job in my eyes; I deal with fixing processes, creatively expressing data and making businesses work more efficiently. I freakin love it.

The problem that we had back in the jewellery store was that PANDORA had literally hundreds of different charms, rings, earrings and bracelets. When we first got them we kept all the beads in little bags in a big plastic box. It was a nightmare to find the one specific charm full of meaning you were after in a sea of plastic bags. The situation was even more of a nightmare when it came to ordering the charms, there was no easy way of knowing what stock levels were like (we were all manual back in the day with handwritten receipts and everything, no computers to do the thinking for you).

Being the manager on a very quiet Sunday I took this and designed a stocktaking system. Looking back it is really adorable, laminated pages and whiteboard markers, but at the time it made life easier and we used it until the store got a computer system. This little system was my first taste at improving business processes, a job that I now own and love. PANDORA will always own a warm fuzzy place in my heart for giving me a taste of my future years before I understood the importance and joy of a VLOOKUP.

But why am I blogging about them now? PANDORA have just announced their collaboration with Disney, something that customers were asking for all those years ago in little old New Zealand. There is a new range of charms celebrating the castle, the carriage, the characters and the magic that is Disney. I am actually heading to Disneyworld next year, so this partnership is just all kinds of amazing. PANDORA invited me to a Beauty and the Beast themed afternoon tea to celebrate the launch, and I can’t say how grateful I am to be given this beautiful walk down memory lane.

More Dirty Passions London street art

Yes.

Well, that was a short post. Us millennials don’t have time for a lot of ‘words’ or ‘thinking’ so you can stop reading now if you like. The short answer is that yes a dream job can still be a pain in the arse. If however you are stuck between tube stops or are trying to avoid conversation with someone at a party, then read on for the full explanation.

I have my dream job. I play with spreadsheets all day and fly around the world talking process and strategy. I know, it sounds weird. I still can’t quite believe it myself that I am a jet-setting business analyst. It took a long time (and some fairly lengthy negotiations) for me to get this job, and even longer for me to even figure out that it was the job I wanted. But here is the question we are pondering today, once you have finally found your dream job is it still allowed to be a pain in the arse?

The rhetoric of our time aka trending articles on Facebook suggests that having your dream job means the Sunday dreads go away and every day you spring out of bed with excitement. You dream job solves all your problems, it makes you into one of those smiling Instagram people who are so high on life that they crap motivational quotes. Oh and the dream job is always that of a digital nomad or creative influencer.

Heh.

Must be in a creative field? Nope. Careers in 2016 are more fickle than they were for our parents; we change jobs with the seasons and company loyalty is less important than feeling fulfilled. But this does not mean that the type of role that can be a ‘dream job’ is limited in the slightest. Every single one of us have strengths and weaknesses (read: me with my love for Excel and hatred for following rules)  AND more importantly we each have environments that we thrive in. Me for instance, I do really well in a small to medium company with a flat hierarchy where you get exposed to a whole lot of different areas. Put me in a traditional corporate and I turn into a bitchy, hateful, rage-monster. This means that to get your dream job you not only have to be doing the ‘stuff’ that appeals to you, but be doing that stuff in a company where you can thrive. What works for me will not work for you, unless you were the unfortunate clone that my parents kept in the attic. In which case tweet me @runawaykiwi, we haven’t caught up in ages.

Even if you are in a creative field, graphic designers get pissed off too you know. Its just that they show it with passive aggressive kerning.

Love every single second? Double nope. With my travel schedule I am on the road for at least half the month (hence why my blog schedule gets a little messed up with the time zones) and that is damn hard. Really hard. Like harder than Khal Drogo’s abs. I thrive on having a consistent schedule and being told on Friday that I need to be in America on Monday messes with my head. Oh and remember all the posts about me hating flying? I am now of the most extreme exposure therapy ever, I’m averaging about 6 flights a month with half of them being long haul – so basically I am being forced to deal. I need to do a longer post on work travel at some point, because I know that it sounds like the dream but fuck me it is hard like lego.

Dispense the good London street art

The job is also stupidly long hours and very stressful. Annoyingly this is actually something that makes it my dream job. I want to be able to make decisions, and with great power comes great responsibility. The midnight conference calls and the freaking out about presentations are just what I have to put up with to be able to have a job that is fulfilling and where I feel that I can kick ass.

Oh and that bounding out of bed with a smile that could kill a dentist thing? I am not a morning person and no matter what time zone I am in it is painful to wake up in the morning.

The dream job is not a panacea to give you a perfect life. But it does leave your brain feeling like its had a workout and make you feel like you are making progress – I’m not sure what the progress is towards, but its almost like the feeling of climbing a massive staircase with something cool at the top. You are the most important consideration in your career, there are so many components to a job that will impact on how happy you are. Finding a role & a company that work for you can be harder than finding a boyfriend who takes good Instagram photos, but when you hit the sweet spot you will find yourself writing blog posts about your dream job. But that doesn’t mean you can’t hate your alarm clock and commiserate with friends over gin when it all feels a little too much.

 

London

I still remember a conversation I had with my mum when I was about 14. She asked me why whenever anyone asked ‘how are you’ I answered with ‘I’m tired’. Then a few years later that answer was replaced with ‘I’m stressed’. It was the simplest answers I could come up with for the mass of things I didn’t like about my life, and how I felt like a fish out of water.

But now, when people ask how I am I can confidently say ‘I am freakin awesome’. I still get tired, and I am a pretty good friend of stress, but overall I appreciate that I am lucky to live the life I do.

So what had changed? My psychology degree tells me that the greatest unhappiness comes from the difference between what we have and what we expect to have. And to be honest I think I changed my expectations.

I always thought that I would be all loved up by my early twenties (my family seem to find the love of their lives before they leave their teens!), but I’m single and I could not lead the life I live now if I wasn’t. I decided to move to London on a whim, if there had been a man in my life it almost certainly would have involved more planning and compromise. Being single more importantly allows me to be entirely selfish with my time. I can work 13 hour days without explaining myself, I can then spend all weekend going to galleries or blogging without feeling guilty. So my expectations have changed, I could not give a toss about having a boyfriend right now which means there is no cognitive discord.

I also thought that I was going to be a career woman in a power suit and high heels. Ok, so I went down the wrong road quite far on this one (a four year degree, internship and eventual job as a tax accountant) and it was a massively hard jump to leave – after all I was failing the ‘self’ I thought I was. When I left pretty much every friend and family member said the same thing “I never understood why you wanted to do that, it didn’t seem like you”… Well thanks guys, could you not have told me earlier?

But they were right, I now work for a company with values I believe in, that challenges me in every way and supports me whole heartily. In return they get my endless devotion and a frightening proportion my time and energy. It wasn’t a matter of changing my expectations, rather understanding them better. A career didn’t have to mean suits, hierarchy and tax legislation, it actually meant a job that I could throw myself into and feel like a was a valued cog in the machine. Even if those same friends and family now laugh themselves sick because I work for a fitness company and I’m not exactly exercisey (is that a word?).

I also particularly feel blessed because of my grandmother. I have been told my entire life that she was a Prime Minister stuck in a farm wife’s life. She was intelligent, feisty and born too early for that to make any difference.  Life was planned out for her, with the only option being to marry and have children. That is the life some women choose and they love it, but for me that would have been an even worse choice than tax accounting. I get to live my life how I want to – a luxury that my grandmother didn’t have and that millions of girls around the world today miss out on as well.

Yes London is hard. Yes I get stressed. And for sure I get tired. But I know who I am, and more than anything I know that who I am is 100% completely and totally ok.

Hell, I’m still a fish. But at least I’m a fish that learned to fly.

Materials with a shiny surface

Clicking through LinkedIn the other day, I came across this article. It was a bit of a lightbulb moment for me, because it verified how I choose to live my life.

I worked for four years at university to become a tax consultant – yes I was the weird kid who went through high school knowing I wanted to work at one of the Big 4. Four years of drive, four years of activities that would look good on a corporate CV, four years of not stressing about my future – because I knew exactly which path I was going to be on.

And I did it. I got there. I landed the job in the company, department and team of my dreams.

*cough* it just wasn’t for me.

I felt it in my gut within the first few months that it wasn’t for me, but I thought it might just be new job jitters. After a year I knew for sure I was on the wrong road.

It would take an age to quantify this gut feeling. But my biggest indicator was that I was turning into a nasty, introverted and agitated person – living on a knife edge is not how you should be living in your dream job at 23.

So I chucked it in. I was sitting in a cafe with my Mum and she said “you should move to London” … so I did. That is the exact amount of consideration that I put int my big move.

By god am I glad I did. Because I am HAPPY!

xx

For another take, check out this post: https://medium.com/advice-to-graduates/ec77f3e88d98