How to Find Your Dream Job

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThis is graduation season. A lot of freshly minted graduates are streaming out of our colleges, high schools, and technical programs. A lot of new graduates are looking for their dream jobs.

How do you find your dream job?

I want to share some insight from a good friend of mine named Bill Martin. Bill is an octogenarian with a lot of wisdom. If I told you his entire career history you would be amazed at this man’s success. If you could meet him, you would be amazed by his humility and charm.

He recently spoke to engineering graduates about how to find their dream jobs. Here it is in all its wisdom and simplicity:

  1. Get a job. Work hard and do great at it.
  2. Get a better job. Work hard and do great at it.
  3. Keep repeating this until you…
  4. Get your dream job.

I sort of understood this when I was young. I did not expect to have a dream job right out of the gate. I knew it was out there if I worked and produced value for my employers. A job well done leads to a recommendation and to advancement. The idea of an entry-level position is that you do not stay there long. It is simply where you enter.

In your pursuit of a dream job, don’t forget to get a job and do really well at it. That will lead to good things.

Thanks, Bill!


Kombucha Guy Loves Kombucha


It’s Saturday morning, and I am about to head down to our local farmers’ market to stand in a line and buy a product that my wife loves: Kombucha. We refill seven bottles each week. She has a one bottle per day habit.

I am starting to wonder what they put in this stuff that makes it so irresistible. Kombucha is an ancient beverage that tastes a little weird at first, but really grows on you. It contains an active culture called a SCOBY (Symbiotic Colony of Bacteria and Yeast), which is probiotic.016

The guy that sells this stuff is known to us only as Kombucha Guy. I’m sure he has a real name, but we don’t want to know it. We prefer to refer to him as Kombucha Guy because this fella really loves kombucha. He embodies the practice of ABS – Always Be Selling. He can have a line of ten people waiting patiently to refill their bottles and yet he is still singing the praises of kombucha to every person who walks by his booth.

The thing I like about Kombucha Guy is that he really loves what he is doing. As far as I can tell, he is totally sold on kombucha as a product, and he really believes everyone should be drinking it.

It reminds me of one of my favorite poems. In Two Tramps in Mud Time, Robert Frost writes:

My object in living is to unite
My avocation and my vocation

The idea of uniting your avocation (your love) and your vocation (your work) is the holy grail of career goals. If you are ever able to combine these together, do you ever really “work”?

I would love to hear from you if work and love are the same. What do you do? If your current work is not what you love, what do you think you would love to do?

In the Unlikely Event of a Loss of Cabin Pressure

If you have ever flown, you have heard the speech:

In the unlikely event of a loss of cabin pressure, panels above your seat will open revealing oxygen masks. Reach up and pull a mask towards you. Place it over your nose and mouth, and secure with the elastic band that can be adjusted to ensure a snug fit. The plastic bag will not fully inflate, although oxygen is flowing. Secure your own mask first before helping others.

Notice that curious last sentence. Why should you secure your own mask first before helping others? Isn’t that selfish? What if your small child is seated next to you and is gasping for air? What if your elderly mother is traveling with you and needs help? Are you really supposed to look out for Number One?

Of course, most of us can explain the reason why we should secure our own mask first. Of what use will you be to your child or mother if you have lost consciousness because of a lack of oxygen? In this emergency situation we can see the importance of taking care of ourselves.

For some reason, though, when we start to think about all of our different responsibilities, many of us feel guilt about taking care of ourselves with regard to our physical, mental, and spiritual health.


I want to suggest that each of us operates in many different realms. The concept of realms was introduced in our series on mind maps. The three realms I like to work with are the realms of:

  • Family
  • Personal
  • Career

These categories could be named differently and can be expanded in different ways, but I think these three realms can encompass everything I need to take care of in my life in order to be happy, healthy, and productive. All of these realms impact the other. For example, Personal includes my body and my health. When I make a point of eating right, getting proper exercise, and going to the doctor, am I being selfish? Let’s say that in the interest of not being selfish I do not eat right, do not do proper exercise, and do not go to the doctor. What is almost certain to happen? From experience I know that I would get sick, get fat, feel terrible, and likely shorten my life. In that condition what is my capacity to take care of my family or my career? You see, this is like putting on your oxygen mask first. As I take care of myself, I have more energy and health to take care of my responsibilities and dreams in the realms of Family and Career.

It is important that we also avoid extremes. What if I have really bought into the importance of taking care of my body and my health to the point that I exercise five hours per day, and spend half the family budget on nutritional supplements and personal trainers? No good. That is an extreme. That much time spent on body and health would likely harm my family relationships, which require time. It would also likely harm my relationship with my employer and negatively impact my career. There is delicate interplay between all three of these realms. If I go crazy in any one of them, it will likely be to the detriment of one or both of the other realms.

So, am I arguing for balance? I think the word balance is going a bit too far. If by balance we mean an equal allocation of time to all three realms, that is not what I mean. There are times when my job and career take an inordinate amount of time and focus. During those times I may feel pressure in the realms of Family and Personal. If a family member is sick and needs my attention, I may feel pressure in my Career and Personal realms. The important thing is to be conscious of all three realms and to not let one dominate the others for great periods of time. If your job and career dominates your life for a long period of time, for example, divorces often follow. If your focus on health and body dominates for long periods of time, your Career may suffer.

So, back to the oxygen mask. The fact that you put your mask on first means that you are taking care of the caregiver. That is not where you stop, though. You have taken care of yourself SO THAT you can take care of your child or mother. The reason we take care of our own health is so that we have the capacity to do all of the other things we need to do. In the next article we will expand our three realms more and discuss each sub-realm in more detail.


Graduation Stories

Today we are attending the college graduation of our niece, Amy, who crosses a threshold into the rest of her life. Any kind of graduation marks a potential turning-point for people. It is the completion of a defined phase of education or training that was begun because it held a certain promise of a better future.

As these graduates today listen to the commencement address and walk across the stage to get their diplomas, they will be reflecting on the hard work of the past four years and thinking about the future. Some of them already have jobs lined up, while others see little hope for a good job. Regardless of where they find themselves in the job market, they are all in need of a plan – a strategy. They need a narrative for the future. Hopefully they will not view today as the end of education, but rather as the beginning of their life-long commitment to learning and improvement. All of us need such a plan, whether we went to college or not.

It is my hope that Amy and her fellow graduates will design a powerful narrative for their futures, a Forward Story, to help guide the paths they take and to fulfill their highest and best ambitions.

Congratulations, Amy!

Matt, “you got next.”

Mind-Mapping the Nearer Term – Adding Age 25

In our last article our 18 year-old John completed his mind map for the time-frame 12 years down the road when he is 30 years old. He put in writing in his mind map his various dreams and goals across three areas – family, career, and personal. However, there is a large gap between where John is right now at 18 and where he wants to be when he is 30. Now comes a crucial step for John. He must answer the question, “How do I get there from here?”

When we introduced John in this series we identified the time-frames that he will plan for. The exact time-frames are flexible and can be defined as John desires. The most important thing is that these time windows make sense to the person creating the mind map – in this case John. Here is the mind map we laid out for John: (all images will enlarge when clicked)

With his age 30 mind-map completed, the next time-frame for John is the next seven years. At the end of that window he will be 25 years old. This period is exactly five years before the age 30 period he has already completed. With each new time period, John has to review the plans he has already written to make sure that what he plans in this new time-frame truly enables him to accomplish what he has already written in his longer time-frames. For example:

  • Family. John wants to be living near his parents when he is 30 in order to be able to take care of them. The likelihood of that happening will depend in large part on John’s decisions by age 25. He has to make sure that this new time-frame takes location into account.
  • Career. John said that when he is 30 he will be in his 7th year of work as an engineer. In order for this to happen, John needs to have already been an engineer for two years by the time he is 25. If he were now to write that by age 25 he wants to start his first job as an engineer, there is no way he will be in his 7th year of work when he is 30. This is why he must review what he has already written.
  • Personal. Since John wants to be under 190 pounds by the time he is 30, he will want to make sure he is setting a realistic goal for his age 25 time-frame with regard to his weight and health. If he does not pay attention to his weight and instead gains weight in his early to mid twenties, John may have weight problem to deal with when he is 30.

In this way John reviews what is already planned in longer time-frames and begins to write a coherent plan for the shorter time-frames. It is important to note that John’s already completed age 30 plan is not chiseled in stone. In working on an earlier time-frame he may discover that something he has written for age 30 cannot be accomplished by that time. OR he may determine that he has been too conservative and that he can really accomplish more in that more distant period. In either case he will need to go back to age 30 and make changes so that his plan has a realistic shot of success. In this way, the entire process is really an iterative process. That is, it will likely take several iterations (or repetitions) to develop a coherent plan.

Back to Age 25

After reviewing his age 30 mind map, John will now begin writing for age 25 across all three realms. Here is the blank template for age 25 with the familiar fields to guide John in his planning.

Since John has already completed his more distant time-frame, he can more easily step back in time and create his goals:


  • Family Status: Mom & Dad 62, Steve 27, Jane 24, Kate 20
  • If we are not already living near Mom & Dad, we will look for career opportunities to move closer.
  • Steve may have children by this time, and it is important to me to be a good uncle to my nieces and nephews. This is true even if we do not live near one another.
  • I will have contributed my love and help to Jane and will have a healthy, supportive relationship with her as an older brother. I will maintain healthy boundaries.
  • I will continue my strong relationship with Kate and assist her in whatever ways she needs me.
  • I may be an uncle to Jane and/or Kate’s children at this point. As with Steve’s, I will invest in these nieces and nephews and be a wonderful uncle to them.
  • Robin and I will be celebrating our third anniversary.
  • I will support her in her career, life, and interests.
  • I will spend quality time with her and work seriously on making our marriage great. I will invest in us.
  • We may have children by this time. I will take fatherhood seriously and will look out for the well-being of them all.

In reviewing his age 30 map, John notices that he failed to say anything about his in-laws in what he wrote about family. He address this now in the new time-frame by writing:

  • I will make it easy for Robin and the kids to spend time with her parents.
  • I will look for ways to help Robin’s parents.

Also, now that John has identified this oversight from the age 30 plan, he will go back to that age 30 map and add his thinking about his in-laws.


  • I will be in my 2nd year of work as an engineer.
  • I will establish a reputation as a person with a strong work ethic.
  • I will cultivate relationships with engineers I admire in order to learn from them and grow my network.
  • I will look for and participate in continuing education opportunities.
  • I will earn at least $60,000 per year.
  • We will practice wise budgeting and will pay off all student loan debt.



  • I will keep my weight under 190 pounds.
  • I will play tennis and walk regularly.
  • I will eat a healthy diet, and continually educate myself about the latest in nutritional science.
  • I will get annual physicals from my doctor.


  • I will take guitar lessons and review the fundamentals of music.
  • I will play in at least one charity golf tournaments each year for fun and to support good causes.
  • I will hunt annually with my Dad and brother.

The World

  • I will explore various charities and volunteer my time to determine the place I am most passionate about serving.
  • I will explore the mentoring a young person through Big Brothers/Big Sisters.
  • I will financially support humanitarian relief efforts through world-class charities.
  • I will vote in local, state, and national elections as an exercise of my civic duty and of patriotic gratitude.


  • I will continue to learn and explore my own spiritual nature and the nature of God.
  • I will focus on my spiritual journey with my wife and grow along with her.
  • I will explore and identify a good group of people/church to belong to and to do spiritual work with.
  • I will strive to be consistent in my religious beliefs and allow them to guide my actions in work and personal life.

Here is all of this information in the mind map for age 25:

When both the age 25 and age 30 map are included, here is John’s map. Remember, this image will enlarge:

Now that we have gone through two different time-frames for John we can begin to understand the process for doing a complete mind map. I think you will agree that it is actually hard work. We have not even completed John’s plan yet for his two closest time-frames. One thing that will emerge as we look to the closer time-frames is that the specific goals will become more like tasks as he begins to realize actions he will need to take to make his longer vision a reality. In our next article we will examine how the closest time-frames will drive John’s actions.

Getting Personal About Forward Story Through Mind Maps

This article is part of a series that began with “Using Mind Maps to Develop Your Forward Story.” We have used fictional 18 year-old John as an example and have started building his Forward Story by using the creative tool of mind mapping. In the last article we continued looking at John in twelve years when he will be thirty, and we focused on his career realm. He defined his career ambitions in light of his commitment to his family. As a reminder of where John is so far with his age thirty mind map, here is the map with those two realms completed. (All images will enlarge when clicked).

John has set some excellent goals for when he is thirty. The statements contained in each branch feel right to John. He gets excited thinking about it. The old saying goes: “All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy.” John wants to be a mature adult, but he also wants to have some fun. He does not want to be a dull boy. He wants to enjoy life and to live in a meaningful way. So the next realm he will think about is what we will call the Personal realm. We include in this realm body, health, fun, the world, and spirituality.


John knows that thirty is still young, but he wants to take care of his health so he will be able to handle all of the other goals he has already chosen for himself. If he gains a lot of weight, develops diabetes, and suffers from heart disease (like his father has), he may not be able to take care of his parents, siblings, nieces, nephews, or his wife. He  has seen this happen to other friends and family members, so he is determined to make his health a priority.  John writes the following statements:

  • I will keep my weight under 190 pounds.
  • I will exercise at least three times per week.
  • I will eat a healthy diet, and continually educate myself about the latest in nutritional science.
  • I will get annual physicals from my doctor.

For fun John really likes playing guitar. He is currently a novice, but would like to be much better in twelve years. He knows he can do it, so writes the following about guitar and other “fun” activities:

  • I will be able to play guitar for my family and friends without embarrassing myself.
  • I will play in three charity golf tournaments each year for fun and to support good causes.
  • I will hunt annually with my Dad and brother.

Also in this personal realm, John needs to think about the larger world in which he lives. He is aware of people in other places and of his responsibility as a citizen of his own country. He writes:

  • I will regularly volunteer my time to help with our local food pantry.
  • I will mentor a young person through Big Brothers/Big Sisters.
  • I will financially support humanitarian relief efforts through world-class charities.
  • I will vote in local, state, and national elections as an exercise of my civic duty and of patriotic gratitude.

Finally, John will address spirituality. He is not quite certain where his spiritual life will take him, and he has a lot of questions. John considers himself a seeker after spiritual truth, so he has some expectations that by age thirty he may have found some answers to his questions. He contents himself with the following for now:

  • I will have an understanding of my own spiritual nature and the nature of God.
  • I will continue my spiritual journey with my wife and grow along with her.
  • I will find a good group of people/church to belong to and to do spiritual work with.
  • I will strive to be consistent in my religious beliefs and allow them to guide my actions in work and personal life.

Putting all of this together into his mind map, here is what John’s personal realm looks like at age thirty:

John’s final mind map for age thirty is pretty busy. Here is what it looks like all put together:

This branch of John’s map represents a lot of hard work in thinking, visualizing, and writing. As good as this is, this is what John envisions his life looking like in twelve years. In order for this to be more than a fairly tale, he has a lot more work to do to bridge the gap between now and then. So, as a reminder, the thirty year branch is only a small part of John’s overall mind map. Here is a visual reminder of what is left to define:

In our next article we will look at the way John’s closer timeframes relate to this age thirty branch.

How do you think John’s completed branch will affect his thinking about the next few years of his life? How is it likely to impact his behavior?