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

Don’t Stop Believin’. Embrace the Journey. | A Career Long-View

Are you in your dream job? A lucky few understand from an early age what they were born to do. Then there’s the rest of us who are always looking.

Our dream job search is often an “I’ll know it when I get it” journey. The typical outcome is captured in these lyrics in the hit song, “Don’t Stop Believin’,” by the American rock band, Journey: 


“Some will win, some will lose
Some were born to sing the blues
Oh, the movie never ends
It goes on and on and on and on”

This reality makes our career journey difficult, frustrating, and disquieting as we scramble to find a job that, at least, satisfies us.

Along the way, we work hard to meet expectations so we can advance. But, in the end, we still sense that the job isn’t what we’re supposed to be doing. Ugh!

 Know what’s in your way. 

Journey’s song, “Don’t Stop Believin,” became the top-selling catalog track in iTunes history and the band’s highest-charting U.S. hit for a reason. The message in the chorus is inspiring advice to everyone on a quest:

“Don’t stop believin’
Hold on to the feelin’”

A “dream job” doesn’t just appear in your path. You have get ready to receive it by first conquering the little things in your way. You may be the biggest of those little things. I certainly was.

As you know, I started out teaching high school. (In those days, career choices for girls were pretty much nursing, secretarial, and teaching.)

Teaching was not my dream job but I worked hard at it.  Deep down I knew that:

  • I had something else in me to do but I didn’t know what
  • I was committed to discovering what I was capable of doing
  • I was willing to take some career chances

My journey, perhaps like yours, was about self-discovery first, then job accomplishments, and then a bona fide career.

When I look back, I remember how smart I thought I was until I got smacked in the face with my own naiveté.

Here’s what I needed to focus on: (Follow the links for some amazing stories about what other “regular people” have done.) 

  • Overcoming my self-limiting beliefsI had to resist doubts about the wisdom of leaving a “safe” teaching job for the “big bad” corporation when so many people who loved me told me I was making a big mistake.
  • Increasing my capabilities and experiencesI had to learn about the energy industry and corporate management; then the horseracing industry and farm management; and finally small business ownership and home office management.
  • Getting more done and taking on new challengesI had to develop cross-functional leadership skills, political savvy, and the ability to manage change on a large scale.
  • Becoming comfortable being my authentic selfI had to sustain the courage to stand firm for what I believed was right and fair, consistently express my care and concern for the people around me, and allow my personality to show.
  • Finding my way through the obstaclesI had to learn to ask for help, develop trusted and collaborative relationships, and develop a nose for the “dirty tricks” that others might try to play 

Everyone’s journey ultimately lands them somewhere. In time I realized that my dream job was work that gave the freedom to call the shots, make the rules, pick my spots, and generate enough revenue to live quietly. That’s where I am today. But it took a while to get here.

Don’t stop believing’. 

You are the key to your success, not luck or your boss or your company. How you see yourself and believe in your ability to turn your capabilities into a career that makes a difference will determine the outcome.

At the very least you need to keep believin’ in yourself even when you don’t know if anyone else does.

When I sign books, I often write: Stay Committed. Keep Reaching. It’s what we all need to do. And it still applies to me.

Photo from h.koppdelaney via Flickr