Can a Dream Job Turn Into a Nightmare?

By Lindsey Novak

June 20, 2019 4 min read

Q: I began a new job several months ago. I want the type of company to remain confidential, but I have always liked working for small companies with a family environment. This job was my dream job, and I was excited to leave the job I had. My new bosses were kind, welcoming and helpful.

Recently, I have been given additional duties in which I have no experience. Learning these new tasks is all-consuming and takes time away from the original purpose of my job. I am studying at night so I can efficiently execute the tasks, and I've had to give up outside activities that are my passions. A friend was concerned I was burning out, but I waited for so long to find this type of job, so I don't want to say anything to ruin my future there. Is there a solution?

A: You may believe that addressing a situation equates to being defensive and argumentative. It does not. When you stand up for what you want, you must use reason and diplomacy. That means anger or emotional upset should never enter into the discussion. Angry, irrational behavior is what gets a person fired — and for good reason.

No one at work wants to deal with an employee who displays belligerent emotions. A good attitude is critical for establishing and maintaining positive business relationships. If you equate speaking up with fodder for an argument, then your fear will set the tone for all your communication. You were excited about the job because it required skills and abilities you had and excelled in. Your boss may be unaware that the new tasks are outside your skill set, so you have two choices. Continue learning those skills in your personal time or inform your boss that you lack those skills but are willing to learn. By not admitting to your lack of knowledge, you are potentially setting yourself up for failure or burnout. You are also not giving your boss a chance to ask someone else to help.

This can easily occur in a small company, as it may lack the funds to hire another employee who can take on the additional tasks. It's smart to complete the duties you were hired for during the day and learn the new tasks on your own time at home. As a precaution, if you refuse to let your boss know what you are doing to keep up with the work, keep track of your time worked at home. These hours are evidence of your effort, especially if the tasks are not ones someone in your field should be expected to know. If they are, time spent learning them will benefit you regardless of your current job.

As you become more proficient in the additional duties, you should need less time to complete them. You should then be able to resume the recreational activities you enjoyed.

If additional hours are still required to do the job after becoming proficient, you may think your salary is unacceptable for the work, removing the "dream" out of the job. You can now have an evidence-based, nonemotional talk with your boss, asking for a raise. Never demand a raise or issue an ultimatum. Just listen to the boss' reaction and use that information to decide your next step. If denied a raise, you can discreetly start a job search, or you can stay and focus on what originally made it a great job. If you do neither, your attitude will be the determining factor of your success. You can't continue working and hiding your displeasure at the situation, for your anger will be released whether you are conscious of it or not.

Email your workplace issues and experiences to [email protected] For more information about career and life coach Lindsey Novak, visit, and for past columns, see

Photo credit: geralt at Pixabay

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