“The only thing worse than starting something and failing… is not starting something.” – Seth Godin
I’m the type of person that asks random strangers about their dreams.
So, if we sit together on an international flight be prepared to answer my favorite question.
“If you knew you couldn’t fail and if money wasn’t an issue, what would you do with your life?”
When I ask this question, I generally get one of three responses. (As a caveat, I’ve been in all three of these categories at different points in my life. It wasn’t until recently that I committed to chasing my dreams.)
The Dream Killer
One response is from the “Dream Killer.” This is the cynic who shoots down any dream in sight. They don’t have dreams and aren’t about to start. They respond to my inquiry feeling annoyed and offended as if I just asked them about their deepest darkest fantasy.
The conversation usually ends here, and I get it. It’s not natural to put reality on pause to allow ourselves to dream.
“Don’t let someone who gave up on their dreams talk you out of going after yours.” – Unknown
The Long-Lost Dreamer
The second person is a little more responsive. They swallow, take a deep breath, and sheepishly share their hidden dream. This is the “Long Lost Dreamer,” and they usually sigh in relief after getting permission to finally express the desires they’ve been holding inside.
They experience the momentary inspiration of honoring what they’re being called to do in life.
“I would start a bakery with my grandmother’s recipes.”
“I would be an author.”
“I would start a distillery.”
“I would travel the country hitchhiking by train.”
Most people have some sort of dream, even if they haven’t uncovered it yet or are too embarrassed to share it.
The Dream Chaser
It’s the rare few who know what they want and are willing to do something about it.
This third group is the “Dream Chasers.” They are the people who’ve realized that we live in a social climate of growing opportunity and abundance.
A dream chaser is ready to use their life to make a difference. They believe meaning and purpose are tenets for greater success and want to pursue a mission they’re passionate about.
Why aren’t there more Dream Chasers?
Well, one reason is that we never learned the skill of intentionally designing and creating our lives.
There was no secondary school class or on-the-job training teaching us that we can have fulfillment beyond the status quo – that climbing the corporate ladder doesn’t equal happiness and success.
Secondly, the easy path is not to blaze our own trail and standout from the crowd. It’s a bold and devoted path to be a dream chaser.
Seth Godin wisely notes in his book Icarus Deception, “We can’t suddenly quit a job and rush to find a form of art that will pay off before the next mortgage payment is due. Creating art is a habit, one that we practice daily or hourly until we get good at it.”
You choose your dream career. It doesn’t choose you.
Your dream job or life’s work is something that takes time, energy, and resources, but it’s doable.
As long as you gain perspective on the scope of what you’re really trying to accomplish, why you want to accomplish it, and implement a system and plan to get tangible results, you can design a life filled with greater purpose and passion.
Four step blueprint to start chasing your dreams.
Let’s start at the source. Do you know what you want? Do you have a compelling vision and know what’s most important to you? Do you know why you want it?
I’d say, “I’m sorry” for all the invasive questions, but I’m not sorry. These questions are necessary. They’re the source to understanding your essence and authentic self.
If you haven’t taken time to sit down, reflect, and write out an answer to these questions, please, for the sake of restoring your life, do it!
Oh yeah and be brutally honest with yourself.
Deep down in your soul, what do YOU want? Not what your parents, family, friends, or society want for you.
Not everyone wants the same things. Not the same amount of money, or the same lifestyle, or experiences. We’re all different. What is success to you?
Give yourself permission to acknowledge what you want. What are your dreams as of today?
“Always remember, you have within you the strength, the patience, and the passion to reach for the stars to change the world.” – Harriet Tubman
If you’re going to make real and lasting change, it takes commitment. Commitment is different than just saying you’re going to do something.
Commitment is a personal iron clad agreement that you’re invested for the long-term. It’s putting in the time, energy, and money.
Commitment is declaring what you want and continuing to show up day after day when things get hard.
Are you ready to commit to the life you really want?
Write down this statement and fill in the blanks. Keep it somewhere convenient where you will read it every day.
“I (insert name) commit to doing X every day until I reach Y. This is important to me because Z.”
At this point, if you’re considering this amazing dream life, you’re probably feeling excited and have that feeling in your stomach like you’re about to go on a first date.
Or you’re likely scared to death of even imagining you could have this rock star life.
This is where courage keeps you in the game. You’ll be scared because it’s uncertain, and you know deep down that you’ll fail along the way.
Courage doesn’t feel pleasant but it helps get the job done. Step into your fear. Be willing to face obstacles and challenges. Take action and learn as you go!
“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than by the ones you did do.” – Mark Twain
Our dreams are beyond our reach for a reason. They’re meant to help us evolve and grow.
The moment you stop developing new skills and cultivating your craft, you’re settling for mediocrity.
To bridge the gap between where you are now and where you want to be, you’ll have to start making different choices, which will require learning new skill-sets.
You’ll have to become more adaptable and more entrepreneurial. You’ll have to make the decision to practice mastery.
Do an honest assessment of your strengths and weaknesses.
Where can you use your strengths to start making progress?
What skills and capabilities do you need to work on?
Develop a plan and strategy to grow the skills you need and keep investing in personal development. Dedicate at least 30 minutes per day to learning, training, and practicing your skill or craft.
Creating your dream career takes serious effort, so be patient. Give yourself 2-3 years and see how much you can accomplish if you put in the time.
Use this simple framework to get started.
1. Clarity – Know what you want.
2. Commitment – Prioritize what you want.
3. Courage – Take action in the face of fear.
4. Competence – Develop needed skills to get what you want.
Are you ready to start your journey?
“A man is not old until regrets take the place of dreams.” – John Barrymore
Photo credit: Florent Chretien