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In a perfect world

by Douglas E. Welch

June 2, 2000

© 2000, Douglas E. Welch

Everybody is always looking for the perfect job. It is a dream that flits on the edge of your consciousness and really only comes to the fore on those days when your current job seems like the antithesis of the perfect job. While you might think dreaming about your perfect job is "pie-in-the-sky" it can actually help you to move your career in the right direction.

What it is not

Often, the best place to start when developing your idea of a perfect job is with the process of elimination. We often have a much better idea of what we don't want than what we do. What have you experienced in past jobs that you never want to face again? Perhaps you didn't like technical support work. Perhaps your manager thinks intimidation is the best way to manage his employees. What procedures, requirements, flaming hoops you have to jump through now would you do away with if given half a chance? Do you want to work fewer hours or just spend more time actually doing your job instead of moving paper? Maybe you just want to have more of an effect on the world.

Whatever your desires, start by turning your negatives into positives. For example,

Negative Positive
Don't like working in an office Do like working outside
Don't like answering user questions Do like long hours of concentration
Don't like authoritarian managers Do like working in a team
Don't like programming Do like using existing applications

…and so on.

These positive items will become that basis for the description of your perfect job.

Blue Sky

During my 5 years at Walt Disney Imagineering I was introduced to the project life cycle diagram that was used to manage all Imagineering projects. One of the first steps in any project was called Blue Sky. During "Blue Sky" project team members were challenged to come up with ideas for the project regardless of cost, complexity or the availability of technology to make the project happen. This cleared the way for creative thinking and helped produce hundreds of raw ideas that would then be run through the next step in the process, Feasibility. Blue Sky is the next step in your search for a perfect job.

Take a few minutes, an hour, a day, a week; whatever time you can find and hold your own personal Blue Sky session for your career. Self-discovery is never easy, but here are a few guidelines to help you through your first Blue Sky session.

  1. Get away from your day-to-day pressures. Go somewhere quiet and comfortable where you can think without interruption.
  2. Start listing the type of work you would like to do. It need not be (and probably shouldn't be limited to) the work you are doing today. If you want to fly commercial airliners, write it down.
  3. No judgement. No one is going to see your list but you so don't pre-judge your ideas. The goal is quantity. Quality is left for future steps. Be wild. Be fanciful. Be stupid. Write it down.
  4. Five more reps. When you feel you can't think of anything else squeeze out 5 more ideas. Stretch yourself and your concept of the perfect job.
  5. Take a break. When you feel tapped out, take a break. Go have a coffee and a muffin. Call a friend. Read some email. Whatever.
  6. Start over at step 1. Once you feel recharged start all over again. In fact, you will work your way through the process again and again, generating new ideas each time.



After you have gone through the Blue Sky process a few times you will be ready to do some evaluation of the ideas you generated. You must be very careful during this evaluation, though, so you don't throw away ideas too quickly. You must evaluate the ideas on your ability to accomplish them in the future not your current situation.

For example, perhaps today you are working in technical support but really want to be a programmer. You don't have any training in programming. Even though you can't become a programmer overnight you do have the ability to learn how to be a programmer. If this is something you really want you can work to achieve it.

As you evaluate each possible job you should then develop a short list of actions that would lead you to this goal. If you want to be a programmer you will want to talk with other programmers and observe their work to insure yourself that this is the type of work you will enjoy. You will need to investigate and enroll in some programming classes. You might also want to find a mentor who can help guide you through your journey. Notice that none of these steps is impossible.

This process of dreaming and then evaluating can help you to understand not only what work you might like to do, but also the steps you need to take in order to achieve the perfect job. Be open to where your dreams might take you. It is possible that you might even discover that a high-tech career is not what you desire most. Regardless of the outcome there is much to be gained from developing your career instead of just letting it happen around you.

Douglas E. Welch is a freelance writer and computer consultant in Van Nuys, California. Readers can discuss career issues with other readers by joining the Career Opportunities Discussion on Douglas' web page at:

He can reached via email at

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