People who pursue their childhood dream job are happier, study finds

Follow your dreams to the stars. Image: Getty Creative

The majority of adults never really get over their childhood dream jobs and are happier if they pursue them, research shows.

A survey of 1,567 Brits by Perkbox Insights found that while 96% of adults were not successful in making their childhood dream job a reality, a whopping 64% of adults still wish that they were working in their childhood dream job now.

The research also revealed the most popular childhood dream jobs – vet, which one in 10 Brits dreamed of becoming, and teacher, with 9% dreaming of pursuing this career. This was followed by pilot (6%), actor (6%) and police officer or detective (5%).

With only 4% making their childhood dream job a reality, it begs the question of if childhood dreams play any part in shaping the future or if dreams and reality are actually light years apart?

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Dreams of being a lawyer or teacher are the ones most likely to come true – 14% of Brits who dreamed of becoming a lawyer now work in the law, law enforcement or security sector. The same amount who dreamed of becoming a teacher now work in education.

Other dreams, such as becoming an actor or athlete are much less likely to come true, with the most common jobs for these dreams to turn into being in the hospitality and events management and accountancy sectors, respectively.

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But how important is following these childhood dreams? It turns out, following through on childhood dreams could have an impact on future happiness. The survey found 92% of people who ended up in their childhood dream job are happy in their job as an adult, leaving only 8% unhappy.

Alternatively, 84% of those who did not end up in their childhood dream are happy in their job, leaving twice the amount – 16% –unhappy. Does wistful thinking of dreams gone by leave us feeling like the grass is greener elsewhere?

When looking into why these dreams didn’t become a reality, the result revealed some sad truths. More than four in 10 (43%) people feel they didn’t have the talent, opportunity or resources to pursue their childhood dream job.

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Vet is the most popular childhood dream job, survey finds. Photo: Lydia Torrey/Unsplash

This breaks down to a disproportionate 28% of women, compared to just 15% of men – begging the question, is this a lack of confidence or is there a feeling of lack of opportunities for young women?

The amount of training required for certain careers is often off-putting too, with almost one in 10 (9%) staying this was a reason they didn’t pursue their dream job – including the most popular dream jobs of vet and pilot.

A further 8% didn’t pursue their dream because the career isn’t always well-paid.

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But despite the majority of adults wishing that they were doing their childhood dream job now, 32% of people got into their current role because they are interested or passionate about the industry, and a huge 99% of these people are happy in their jobs – so it isn’t all bad.

Other routes into jobs which lead to workplace happiness include those who got into their job as it suits their talents – 25% – which has led to 95% of these people being happy at work. Further, 15% work in their role as it matches their studies, and 94% of these people are happy.

But not all routes lead to equal levels of happiness. Of the 9% of Brits who pursued their career because it’s well-paid, 18% are unhappy in their jobs – almost 20 times higher than those who followed their interests or passions.

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The reason to pursue a job least likely to lead to happiness is because it’s local (10%), with over a fifth (21%) of people who got into their job this way unhappy at work, showing settling close to home may not be the answer.