In my work as a coach, I talk to a lot of people about their dreams, particularly about hidden desires that lurk deep within. You know the ones, those things you’ve always wanted to do but have put on the back burner because it doesn’t seem possible or practical or affordable – that trip to Europe, that MA, becoming a dancer, having your own studio, running your own business.
And often when people share them with me, these dreams are quickly followed by a “but” – but I have a mortgage, children, a partner, responsibilities, limited time, limited money, limited energy, limits of every kind. And when I have paid off my mortgage (my student loan, my credit card debt) and am financially secure (well-off, rich), the children are in school (off to collage, graduated from university, financially independent), my partner has a more secure job (believes in me, gives me permission) and I have more time, money, energy, opportunity then I will….
Do dreams work that way?
The Get-it-Done Guy Stever Robbins lists this as #6 on his Ten Great Cultural Career Lies: I’ll work now and do what I love when I’ve accomplished (made my first million, cured cancer, etc.). Here’s his take:
Dangerous strategy, and I know very few who’ve pulled it off. If you don’t do it, you’re left at mid-life trapped in a career you don’t like, with a non-transferable resume, and a network composed of people who are the last ones in the world who could help you do what you love. But boy, could they help you get even further in a career you despise.
Ouch, that last point really hit home. Every year you don’t pursue what you really want to do, you’re getting more and more firmly entrenched in that place you don’t want to be.
So what do you do?
I am not suggesting you neglect your responsibilities, your bills or your loved ones. But I am suggesting that even in your busy, responsible, debt-ridden, exhausted life, you find a small space for your dreams, for your own personal joy. Just open a little window and consider what might be possible now. If you don’t make room on your plate, the Universe won’t know you’re hungry. It doesn’t have to be big. Take 5 minutes one morning researching violin classes in your neighbourhood. Say out loud to your partner that you think maybe you’d like to go back to school. Read a library book about starting your own business. Stop in at the travel agent at lunch and get a brochure for Paris. Open the door.
When I was training to be a coach, I really wanted to take the certification program. It cost $3500, and I didn’t have it. One day a friend I hadn’t talked to in years invited me to come talk to a group of people at her work about the power of coaching. I ended up with a contract. You’ll never guess how much it was for. Yep, $3,500. I am now a certified coach.
Open your heart to dreaming. Amazing things can happen.