You’ve read a lot about how to tackle your dreams, but before that, what should you do if you haven’t figured out what YOUR dream is?
It is two months from graduation, as the pressure of what you want to do with your life, scratches at you. You’re young so all you really think about is the most immediate next step. Finding your dream is a concept, but not yet a reality. Instead you focus on what that first job is going to be. The job that is going to help you start paying towards your student loans or even that apartment you just rented. That first job that may even just be a place holder while you continue to interview for that perfect job, that aligns with your degree, or so you hope.
Next you’re in your mid- to late-20’s and life is good! What you plan to do with the rest of your life is a sensation that hasn’t come into focus, past the copious friends that keep you busy in the evenings, or those glorious weekends you count down to, starting every Tuesday by 11 A.M. You have a paycheck that covers all the basics plus a little fun. The extent of your planning is focused on what activity you and your friends will attend to next.
Six months after your 30th birthday, that sensation pertaining to your future and what you’re going to do for the rest of your life, burns to life like an attack of acid reflex.
Sometime back, the job that was supporting everything-fun-in-life, plateaued. Instagram posts from people you don’t even know, begin to string together and display a “purpose driven life”. Next comes an induced sense of panic as you realize everything you’ve done up until now seems random. When did these people figure out their dream in life? Your 30’s drive home the concept that life is short and while you always knew that, your 30’s make you feel it. The gut-bomb need for purpose sits heavy at the front of your conscious. You try to ignore it but the only real option for lightening the mental load is to uncover your dream.
So how do you figure out what your dream is?
We know how to accomplish our dreams, because the motivational quotes are attached to every other picture on social media, not to mention the bookstore is littered with “charge towards your goal” titles. But how do we figure out what dream we’re chasing for ourselves?
For starters, there are a lot of different sizes of dreams. For some it may be their hope to own their own home, or achieving a certain level of success. Perhaps you feel the need to uncover a bigger dream that may feel almost unrealistic to reach. It could also be that you have multiple dreams; don’t feel the need to narrow it down to one.
Here are three tips, in order, for finding your next goal that have worked for me. I am not a professional. I did not study the psyches of goal setting. Like many bloggers and self-starters, I needed help on a topic and since I couldn’t find cohesive info, I created it.
Grab a pen and paper and start to write down all the dreams you can think of. Maybe they are about family. If work is a focus, write down thoughts about where you’d like to see your career go. Some people have travel as their main dream, reaching that destination you’d always wanted to see in person. Your dream could be that car that you can’t afford now but with the write plan, could be yours soon. It really doesn’t matter what comes to mind, write it ALL down. If you find yourself struggling, check out Part-One of Kate Matsudaira’s 4-part Success Strategy.
The first thing to track here is that happiness doesn’t come from what you’re doing or what you’ve accomplished and obtained. It is a sense of being. There is a battle to find joy with yourself as you are now. Without that accomplished first, nothing will bring you happiness if you aren’t already there yourself. When you’re prepared for the doing portion, then you can track towards what makes YOU happy. Not what you think you should be doing to appear happy. But be honest with yourself about what really makes you happy.
Being honest with yourself is harder than you think. Often times what we think we want is twisted by society. For instance, I always thought I wanted my focus to be work. I was going to be that strong woman who made it out of Alaska and did something big with her career. Turns out I might be interested in creating a family instead. And that comfortable job I have now, works great.
Action plan… Pick your “favorite” dream from your free write and then write down everything it would take to accomplish it. What do you have to do to reach your dream? Are there sacrifices that need to be made? What does life look like when you arrive? How are the people you care about affected by your dream? Try this with a few options. Seeing each topic through will help you narrow down your focus. Honesty is a kicker and reality can hurt. You might find out you aren’t willing to work hard enough for that dream, and that’s fine. It just means it wasn’t your dream. Keep going through the options from your free write till you feel great about the dream you’ve narrowed in on for yourself.
Living is a form of not being sure, not knowing what is next or how. The moment you know how, you begin to die a little. The artist never entirely knows. We guess. We may be wrong, but we take leap after leap in the dark. ~ Agnes De Mille
Now, you’re ready to read the many blogs, articles, books, etc. on how to accomplish your dream.