Why It Doesn’t Matter If You Don’t Land Your Dream Job

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If it were easy to land your dream job, everyone would jump out of bed in the morning and be raking in more than Mark Zuckerberg—but life’s not really like that, is it? You shouldn’t stress though, because a new study proves that workers can be just as happy at the office, even if you miss out on the perfect gig.

Researchers at the University of Michigan studied American adults and found that 80 percent of us believe scoring that dream job is the key to continual career happiness.

However, the same study also revealed that we’re a little misguided, and it doesn’t have to be love at first sight when it comes to your career. In fact, people who take time to develop passion for their jobs can wind up loving work just as much as those who love their role from the word go. Actually, the study even points out that those who develop passion over time may even end up happier.

Here’s why: People who believe finding a dream job will bring them happiness are more likely to take cuts in pay or benefits to hold on to that role. Meanwhile, the folks whose passion grows over time will carefully consider salary and benefits before signing on the dotted line to accept an offer.

Researchers looked at people’s expectations, choices and outcomes associated with each of these two mindsets, which they termed as the “fit theory” and “develop theory” respectively. They found that both mentalities are similarly successful at achieve job happiness.

“The good news is that we can choose to change our beliefs or strategies to cultivate passion gradually or seek compatibility from the outset, and be just as effective in the long run at achieving this coveted experience, ” Patricia Chen, the study’s lead author, explained in a press release.

So if you’re not quite at dream-job status just yet, don’t sweat it.

MORE: Career Advice From a CEO Whose Job It Is to Dole Out

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