Living The Dream
Choosing the perfect career or taking a different path in your working life can pose plenty of challenges. Here, we track down some local names and famous faces who have found fresh inspiration for their role and also pursued childhood passions.
Freud famously considered that ‘Love and work are the cornerstones of our humanness’. But while true love is harder to quantify, work is quite often something we choose with the aim of maximum fulfilment. Yet there is no guarantee that a job that makes us happy will actually be our dream job, just as there is no guarantee that our dream job will, in fact, make us happy.
So what is a dream job? Does it exist? Is there only one dream job for everyone?
Since most of us spend a great deal of our lives working, it is inevitable that work plays a key role in shaping our levels of happiness. Those of us who have had a job that makes us happy – or at least isn’t monotonous or stressful – understand the relief that work satisfaction can bring to an otherwise unpredictable life. I was fortunate enough to work for several years as the Personal Assistant to Douglas Adams, author of the cult Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy series – a dream role in which no two days were ever the same.
But for many people, the appeal of starting the working day by fighting for a seat on the 7.16 to London, before being chained to a desk all day and spending the weekend clamped to an iPhone, is shifting; the ‘nine to five’ is being replaced by a desire to follow their dream.
And it appears that we Brits are a nation harbouring hidden talents: 34% of us regret never progressing our talents any further. New research by uSwitch.com, sponsors of Saturday night show Britain’s Got Talent, reports that over a third of us with a talent wish we’d chased our dreams more when we were younger, while 18% say that career and family are more important.
They say that if you find a job you love, you will never work a day in your life. Though the origins of this saying, which some have attributed to ancient Chinese philosopher Confucius, remain obscure, its message is undeniable.
Whatever career avenues life presents us with if you feel motivated, respected and engaged with your employment then it is likely to offer a greater sense of fulfillment.
The Write Stuff
Having spent 20 years working in conference production Laura Marshall decided in 2015 it was time to fulfil a lifetime’s ambition to write a novel and just two years later, her first novel, Friend Request, was published, selling more than 250,000 copies in the UK to date and becoming a Sunday Times top 10 bestseller in paperback, and kindle number one bestseller.
“I’ve always wanted to be a writer, for as long as I can remember,” recalls Laura, who lives in Tunbridge Wells with her husband and two children. “I saw some of my books from primary school recently and a surprising number of my stories had scary men with knives or people breaking into houses in the middle of the night – I was obviously destined to become a crime writer! It’s definitely a dream job and I feel very lucky. It has completely changed my life in that I’m fortunate enough to be writing for a living now. I didn’t hate my old job as a conference producer, but I was never passionate about it. I almost can’t believe that I now make my living by doing my very favourite thing in the world.”
• Laura’s second novel, Three Little Lies, will be published on 28th June.
From Cash to Cooking
Worthing bank manager and father- of-two, Kenny Tutt was crowned MasterChef Champion 2018, becoming the 14th amateur cook to claim the title. Facing competition from 55 other determined contestants, he went through seven gruelling weeks of culinary challenges and a close final cook-off. Having been persuaded to apply for the show by his wife Lucy, Kenny has been catapulted straight into his dream job.
“Cooking for Ashley Palmer-Watts, working in a professional kitchen and visiting Peru was everything and more; money can’t buy the experiences that MasterChef gave me. Cooking has always been a sort of release for me, but the competition woke up the creative side of my brain and changed me as a person. The pressure was intense but the teamwork was amazing, and to have my own restaurant would be a dream.”
Music to his Ears
Grammy award-winning conductor and music director Richard Cooke was appointed to one of his ‘dream jobs’ at the Royal Choral Society in 1995 and regularly appears with them in concerts around the country, including the annual performance of Handel’s Messiah and Christmas concert, both at the Royal Albert Hall.
He is also Music Director of Canterbury Choral Society, where he lives, and runs a successful local youth choir.
A chorister of St Paul’s Cathedral and Choral Scholar at King’s College, Cambridge, Richard was always destined to pursue a career in classical music, saying: “The musical aspect of my job – rehearsing and performing – is utterly rewarding. To direct an orchestra of over 70 musicians with a choir of up to 200 singers could be terrifying, but it’s a lot of fun.”
Career highlights include conducting Bryn Terfel at the Royal Albert Hall’s War Requiem in 2014 to commemorate the centenary of the First World War – and rubbing shoulders with Whitney Houston on the red carpet at the Grammy’s in New York.
The Beautiful Game
Jason Bourne (not to be confused with the protagonist of the Hollywood movie series played by Matt Damon) now manages Tunbridge Wells Football Club but in 2013 he captained his team at the FA Vase final at Wembley Stadium.
Although not technically not his day job (Jason owns a local painting and decorating business) – and despite losing 2-1 to their north east opponents Spennymoor – it was a day Jason will never forget: “Growing up in Tunbridge Wells, it was a huge privilege to lead my home town onto the pitch at Wembley. To walk out of the tunnel holding my children’s hands was the best feeling in the world and a memory that I hope will stay with them forever.”
Could You Be A...?
According to lifehack.org, there are some unexpected dream jobs out there that will have you rewriting your CV.
• Want to become a human electric blanket? Some hotels are known to actually hire people to warm up guests’ beds before they enter the room – all so hotel-goers can get a better nights’ sleep.
Sleep Centre Director Dr Chris Idzikowski explains that there’s plenty of scientific evidence to prove that it works!
• Getting paid over £100,000 to go on holiday is the stuff of dreams…or not. If you’re lucky enough to ever be recruited as an Island Caretaker, that’s exactly what you can expect. The role involves the usual holiday activities – snorkelling and strolling down sandy beaches – and all the tourism company want in return is an engaging blog and photo diary.
• A 13-year-old boy from Kent says he is living every child’s ‘dream’ after becoming Fortnite’s youngest professional player. Since launching in July 2017, the survival shooting game, which is free, has been downloaded more than 40 million times. At the moment, Kyle Jackson from Sidcup does not make money from his contract but he will get a share of the prize money from any competitions.
• Sebastian Smith, reported to be the first waterslide tester, was employed by First Choice holidays in 2013 to travel the world’s water parks and give reviews on slides and venues. And he was paid £20,000 for the privilege!
• For many of us, binge watching Netflix is a part of life. So why not get paid for it? Professional Netflix Taggers are a real thing, and they’re employed solely to watch and tag shows and movies based on genre and type. Without them, Netflix wouldn’t be able to recommend a similar show to fill the gap that finishing the last season of Suits has made in your life.