I have always been fascinated with people who have ambitious dreams about work and make them happen.
This fascination led to my dream job. I create and execute comprehensive programs to help people go from career confusion to career clarity. In the last 15 years, while doing this work, I have researched, sought out and interviewed many people who love what they do for a living, including teachers, business people from a wide array of industries, scientists, artists and entrepreneurs.
In this ongoing study, without exception, this group can ALL answer this question:
What is your dream?
Unfortunately, people looking for more happiness at work often skip over taking time out to envision or dream about their future. Some believe it is a luxury they can’t afford as they struggle to deal with the current stresses of life and work, others have told me they have forgotten how to use their imagination and many are afraid new dreams will create too much sacrifice or change. We help people get over these fears and get back to that place of, “what do I want to be when I grow up” informed by their personal and professional experience, values, needs and preferences.
Dreams are essential for everyone, no matter your age, the career stage you are at and the details of your work situation. Whether you are in the midst of a career transition, a job search or just want more meaning from your current work, clarifying your personal and professional dreams can help you in five main ways which, by design, spell out the word, DREAMS:
Drive: Dreams can help you be more productive whether you are in school, work for an organization or run your own business. If you do not know where you are going, you may be expending a lot of effort traveling in circles instead of driving toward a vision which will lead to more satisfaction and effectiveness. Dreams can also help motivate you when things may be challenging.
Relevance: Most workers complain that they do not see how their work is relevant outside their workplace and often blame their bosses or corporate culture for this. Clarifying your personal and professional goals can create a connection to how your job is meaningful, which will often help motivate you and perhaps, give you more peace around your career decisions. One of my clients realized their primary dream was to send their kids to college which helped them decide to stay at their current company and change departments as a way to move toward more enjoyment rather than making a more drastic change.
Engagement: According to a study released by Gallup last year, 70%of the workforce is disengaged. However people who pursue their passions and purpose through work are so engaged they often lose track of time. Aligning your career track to long-term dreams can help eliminate clock-watching. Ultimately, if we were all more engaged, our workforce would be happier and our economy would improve.
Authenticity: A proactive plan for how to turn dreams into reality can be better than molding your passions and yourself to fit a particular job or corporate culture. Ultimately, going against who you truly will create resentment and in some cases, exhaustion. A client determined his dream was to make a positive impact on climate control which narrowed his job search and ultimately, landed him his dream job. In the selection process, he was able to articulate this dream and sentiment to his future employer from a very deep place which gave him an edge over the other candidates.
Mastery: It will take time and great effort to master any new skill, job or career. Creating and focusing on your vision of the future will keep you on task and on track, despite the inevitable setbacks that will occur as you blaze new trails.
Strategy:Many people who have found dream jobs, have one conspicuous practice in common: they choose career strategies aligned with their dreams that leverage their talents. Here are examples based on real case studies, that may help you develop you own plan, once you have clarified your own dreams and assessed your current situation:
I want to get an advanced degree that will help me figure out how to slow down climate change.
Strategy One: Stay
My company pays for advance degrees so I have decided to stay where I am at and take advantage of this benefit. In addition, I like my boss and team and I am learning a lot in my current job that will help me in my future new career.
I like the work I do but I want a new job that allows me to work from home so I can spend more time with my kids.
Strategy Two: Switch
My last job required a 2 hour commute and my boss was very difficult, so I found a better job closer to home that allows me to work from home two days a week.
I want to work from anywhere so I can travel the world while using my writing talents.
Strategy Three: Start
I took a big risk and left my corporate job to start a freelance writing business but 6 months after I began it, I am making more income then I did in my “safe” job.
I hope this inspires you to begin the process of clarifying your dreams to fuel your career. Please, let me know if you have any comments or questions.
Laurel Donnellan, Chief Visionary
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