Dreaming about work is normal

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I awoke this morning from a disturbing dream. In the dream, I was…typing. Actually, I was cutting and pasting within a document in an effort to format it correctly for a blog post.

I’m not kidding. I wish I was. Of all the places to let my unconscious roam in my too-few hours of sleep, it has to trot straight to the office.

Don’t lie to me. You do it, too, particularly if you work for yourself. According to a Staples Small-Business Survey:

…more than half of small-business professionals said that work has actually become part of their dreams. Fifty-one percent of those surveyed said that they “sleepwork” (i.e. dream about work), and nearly 70 percent of those “sleepworkers” report they wake up and put their “work dreams” to action.

Another study finds a far higher number dream about work. On Monster’s Career Advice site:

In a 2003 survey of 1,000 adults conducted by British bank NatWest, 80 percent of women and 60 percent of men said they dream about work. Moreover, 65 percent of women and 43 percent of men reported waking up in a cold sweat, worried about their jobs.

I suppose I should feel lucky. My dream, while pointless, was fairly benign. Others aren’t:

Another 2003 survey of more than 1,000 adults by British education company learndirect revealed that 57 percent of the respondents said they suffer nightmares about their jobs. Fully 25 percent experience those nightmares once a week or more.

The survey says our work-related dream/nightmares are most frequently about, in order of frequency:

1. Arguing with the boss.
2. Being late for an important meeting.
3. Lusting after a colleague.
4. Having to make an unexpected presentation.
5. Going to work naked.
6. Losing all their files in a fatal computer crash.
7. Getting fired.
8. Killing the boss.

Aiiiiiieeeee! What does the severed head of my boss mean? And what’s this bloody knife doing in my hand?! There’s got to be some sort of Jungian explanation. MonsterTRAK’s career coach, Peter Vogt, reports in this article,

To understand and benefit from your work-related dreams, you need to learn how to read between the lines, says dream expert Gillian Holloway, author of Dreaming Insights: A 5-Step Plan for Discovering the Meaning in Your Dream.

For example, suppose that you have the relatively common dream about showing up for work or an important meeting naked. “This dream usually dramatizes a feeling of vulnerability and exposure in waking life,” Holloway notes on her Life Treks Web site. “It is particularly common to people who have accepted a promotion, gone off to a new school or who are coming into public view for some reason.” The dream suggests the dreamer may be focusing deeply on some area of his life where he’s taken on a new role he hasn’t gotten used to yet.

Similarly, you might have the common dream about being unprepared for some job-related task or event. “This anxiety dream is most common to people who never allow themselves to be unprepared,” Holloway stresses. “The people who have it are generally successful, competent professionals who excel at their work and prepare as much as humanly possible.”

So me blogging about formatting a blog post means…I will wake up in 30 minutes and format a blog post. Sometimes a cigar is just a cigar.

Go on. Share your work-related dreams. PG-rated ones only, please.

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