What to Do When You Don’t Have a Dream
Stop me if you’ve heard this one:
“If your dreams don’t scare you, they aren’t big enough.”
It’s sort of assumed that we all have dreams. Big Dreams. Lofty Dreams. Impossible Dreams.
But we’re supposed to dream them anyway. Shed those conventions! Trounce on those naysayers! After all, the future belongs to those of us who believe in the beauty of our dreams, right?
Actually…hang on, Mrs. Roosevelt. Isn’t that kind of a backhand to the rest of us?
To those of us who don’t have a Big Dream? What are we supposed to do, make one up in a desperate bid to grab our slice of the future?
We hear it all the time:
- Dream job
- Dream wedding
- Dream vacation
- Dream house
- Dream car
What if we don’t *have* specific dreams about these things? What if your dream is just to be happy and keep that going for as long as possible?
Is that…big enough?
Because, seriously, I don’t have a dream wedding. I have a couple of Pinterest boards, but frankly am more interested in finding dessert recipes that I can make at home on a Tuesday than quirky, emotionally poignant centerpieces that will be relevant for approximately five hours.
The same goes for a career. I thought that by now, I’d know what I want to do.
I also uncovered a major secret that society has been trying to keep under wraps for years, and that is that we don’t have to know what we want to do. Ever.
I’m not so sure that a dream job has to be life-changing, or fulfilling, or fantastic. It should facilitate the overall life you want and allow for that to happen.
Scenario #1: Establish your own business selling flip books on Etsy. You enjoy it, but the hours are long and it’s hard to turn off your brain even when you’re not technically working. Truth be told, you are always. working. It’s making you sort of despise those flip books and you have to remind yourself not to draw devil horns on some clients’ heads (but doing it in your mind is totally okay).
Scenario #2: Flexible office job that you don’t love but you don’t hate, either. Your co-workers are nice, the vacation is good, and the pay is enough to let you do what you want during your off time. When you leave the office, you don’t think about it. At all. In your free time, you travel, hang out with friends and family, and enjoy drawing flip books.
It feels blasphemous to say, but Scenario #2 could actually be your dream job. Less stress, flexibility, freedom, security – doesn’t sound too bad.
Of course, there are endless possible scenarios – you may work round-the-clock at your own creative endeavor and love it, which would be ideal. (Some may even call it living the dream.) You may have a flexible, low-stress office job that absolutely feeds on your soul, and I’m not trying to suggest that it could be your dream job. (Get out. Get out yesterday.)
I’m just saying that your dream might already be in progress.
I used to think that my dream was to become a writer. Once I identified this as my dream, I let it dangle in front of me, referencing it in the abstract and keeping it tucked safely in the future. I hoped, I wrote, I waited, I hoped some more.
And you know what happened? Becoming a writer kept on being my dream. Even as I was being a writer, I kept imagining what it would be like to be one. Suddenly having a dream felt limiting but the thought of adding a dream to meet all of my interests was exhausting.
The reason I didn’t accept that I was, in essence, living my dream, is because it didn’t change my life. That’s another thing about dreams – they’re supposed to change your life, so it’s really obvious when you’ve achieved them.
After ten years of travel, when I wasn’t so sure my dream was really my Dream anymore, I realized – dreams are totally useless until you turn them into goals.
So now, I don’t have a Big Dream. I have lots of goals, and plenty of ideas, and I work towards them on a daily basis. You could say that my goals are my dreams; it’s a matter of semantics, really. My main objective (goal? dream?) is to be happy. Live a life I feel good about.
I can achieve this goal in a million different ways, and I’m not sure how I’m going to keep doing it. It won’t be by one big action, but lots of little ones. It’ll be trial and error. It’ll be hard. It’ll be fun.
It doesn’t scare me at all.
I’m totally okay with that.