Miserable in Your Job? Wake Up Your Dreams.

wake up 2373187031_87a9803e8c_mMaybe you’re sick of it–that  “follow your dreams” bit.

It can be annoying when fabulously successful people deliver that seemingly hackneyed message. Their words make it sound so easy, as though our dreams are actually clear to us and the path obvious. Their encouragement can even sound a bit like criticism. Ugh!

We often convince ourselves that realized dreams are for other people–mostly celebrities, pro athletes, and people a lot smarter than we. That’s our first mistake.

Open up.

Our desire for approval (and fear of disapproval) from friends and family can be a powerful force.

So, most of us keep our dreams private for too long.

Choosing a career that’s far afield from what you really want sets you up for big disappointments. The sad truth is that most people do just that.

When I coach people facing career crossroads, I ask them this:

Describe briefly the career/job you’ve always dreamed of having that you have never pursued or have only toyed with.

In the list below, the arrows tell you what these folks saw as their dream jobs:

  • Senior corporate finance director after 30 years → Manager of an entertainment-related facility
  • Entry level accountant → Sports team front office administrator
  • Business analyst → Own and operate a bed and breakfast
  • Single mother of four with a medical degree out of the workforce for two decades → Practicing and teaching alternative medicine
  • New college grad  with an English major →  Wine dealer/Travel writer/Set locator for movies/ Travel company founder

 Dreams linger, so it’s never too soon or too late to embrace them.

Your dreams belong to you and you only. Your challenge is to pursue them–on your terms.

Wake up your sleepy head.

Our dreams start in our heads. To make them real, we need to be awake and in gear.

Actor Ryan Reynolds is the voice for the garden snail  who dreams, quite unbelievably,  of being the greatest auto racer in the world in the animated Dreamworks film, Turbo. As Reynolds says, the message in this fantasy film is important:

No dream is too big. No dreamer is too small.

It’s often the case that we start small as we explore our dreams, testing out whether or not we can cobble together plans to achieve them. Each step inches us closer to our vision.

That’s how it worked for county singer, Dolly Parton, who ,throughout her career, has said she always dreams big dreams.

The fourth of 12 children, the daughter of a tobacco farmer in Tennessee, Dolly grew up, as she describes, “dirt poor,” living in a rustic, one-room cabin, and singing in church.

Her talent for singing and songwriting, her grit, willingness to work hard, her charity, and her willingness to dream bigger and bigger dreams propelled her career. She’s never stopped dreaming.

Neither should we.

Fear not.

It’s never too late to get started. So consider these steps:

  • Put a sock in your mouth–to stop the “I can’ts” you mutter that self-sabotage
  • Turn over lots of rocks–to find out what’s needed to realize your dream career
  • Nibble at the edges–to find an entry point for your first efforts
  • Pick your spots— set some specific goals and a timetable for your plan
  • Step forward–involve yourself in some way no matter how small
  • Keep moving–by gradually increasing your participation

You can turn your dream into reality by simply putting yourself out there.

Say “hey.”

Converting dreams into reality requires consistent and persistent hard work, sacrifice, mental toughness, and resilience. You’ll need to muster your courage, withstand  disappointments, and protect your self-belief.

Your dreams also need the help and support of others. So share them with the right people.

It’s important to ask for what you need when you need it from those who truly care about you and your dreams. Your moment will come but the ride is what it’s all about.

Photo by SanitMB via Photoree

8 thoughts on “Miserable in Your Job? Wake Up Your Dreams.

  1. Psychology Today’s cover says the happiest people are those that take risks. So learn how to relax and enjoy the ride, with all its ups and downs, twists and turns. Doing what you really want can be stomach churning, fear provoking and terribly thrilling. And you’ll love it.

    • Thanks, Cherry, for the great connection to happiness. Risk-taking takes practice like anything else. When we start small and we see the advantages, the bigger ones don’t seem so daunting! I agree with you about the thrill factor too…I suspect that’s why people scream on the roller coaster and then go back and ride it again. Great to hear from you as always, ~Dawn

  2. Someone once told me that work should be fun (that would be you!). If it isn’t fun you are in the wrong profession or the wrong job or the wrong company and you have to fix that.

    • OMG, I am a wise one, Kate! Fortunately, here and there over time, I’ve actually taken my own advice and lived to blog about it. Thanks for reinforcing the message and advocating the fix. What a gal! ~Dawn

  3. Dawn,
    I not only want to click ‘like’ on this post, I want to click, ‘LOVE!’ I do, really!

    Just a snippet (of MANY) that I love refers to your six steps regarding ‘how to get started’ because it’s never too late. “Nibble at the edges” is palpable and so TRUE! We all get paralyzed by the enormity of our goals. It’s the ‘how to eat an elephant’ approach that often gets us unstuck and on our way toward achieving real dreams!


    • Jacqui,

      Your enthusiasm is both contagious and inspiring! Thanks so much for championing the six steps in my post and for taking a big bite instead of just a nibble by sharing it with you followers. I have and continue to be blessed by your professional support and generosity.

      You always add something important with your comments to make the message more impactful. I know you have elephant-sized experience achieving your dreams. Your success makes your comment so uniquely powerful.

      Gratefully :-),

  4. Wonderful post. Thanks for sharing your inspirational insights.

    Your point about some people feeling they don’t deserve to be fulfilled in their work is important. It’s often a path of least resistance to follow the notions of others rather than do the hard slog of finding one’s own path.

    It’s the farthest thing from selfishness to seek one’s calling. One can make one’s unique contribution at that place where, as has been well said, the world’s need and on’s passion intersect.

    The result can be extraordinary service to others. And that, in the end, is where the only kind of happiness worth seeking may be happened upon.

    • James,

      Thanks so much for your elegantly stated comment and appreciation for my post. You make such an important case for the need for each of us to “seek one’s calling” so we can achieve “extraordinary service to others,” which, extraordinarily, turns out to be a service to our essential selves.

      It pains me when I meet and work with people who have followed career paths because “It was expected,” “I didn’t want to disappoint my parents,” “I didn’t know what else to do,” “I always got good grades in that subjected and wanted to be sure I could get a good job.” With all the career options and opportunities that exist today, all we need is a bit of creative thinking and courage to find our niche.

      My post was made richer by your comment, James. Thanks for caring enough about the message to take time to write.

      All the best, ~Dawn

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