How To Work Out What Your Dream Is

So you don’t know what your dream is?

Me and my daughter stand up paddle surfing in Noosa

Me and my girl stand up paddle surfing in Noosa

First don’t beat yourself up about it. Probably, the sad truth is that you did know but well-meaning people (teachers, parents, friends, lovers) have beaten it out of you. Don’t worry, they probably did it to protect you from failure. But personally, I’d rather fail at my dream vocation than never try it because my well-meaning entourage mentioned that it would be too hard. I might be sensitive but I’m also determined. I believe that if I want something I’ll get it and so far, in 41 years, nothing has happened to disprove this theory. I’m sure you can get what you want too.

I’d love this to be read by an 18 year old so that they could nail their dream and get on with it without wasting any time. But in all likelihood it will be read by more mature individuals who are still hoping to achieve their dreams and looking for permission to do so. Well, I here by grant you permission to follow your dream and live the life that you most desire, now you just need to allow yourself permission to do it too.

By the way, I read somewhere that most people will have three distinct careers in their lifetime and I think there’s a reason for this. Maybe the first two are just practice and vital experience for your ultimate vocation. I certainly enjoyed my previous careers as a teacher and an Internet designer and one of the things I liked most in those jobs was the planning and writing element, so it’s not much of a suprise that writing is my ultimate dream career.

Trust Your Instincts

Don’t expect to be able to work out what your dream is overnight but you’ll get there. In fact, you probably know what your dream is already, you just need to get back in touch with your natural instincts on this one. That’s right, now’s the time to trust your instincts, an old and vital skill that some of us have lost touch with. I know it sounds like hippy shit or corny new age wisdom but our instincts are usually right. So why don’t they work anymore? Because other people have confused us and told us not to trust them. As a child, did your parents, teachers or friends ever ask you if you were sure about a decision and cause you to doubt it? If that happened a lot your instinctive knowledge may have got scrambled.

By the way, if you’re a parent beware of doing this with your own children. Do you ever find yourself saying:
“Are you sure you don’t want a sandwich/to ride your bike/to go swimming?”
If the kid’s made a decision don’t confuse them, let them stick to it. Most of the time they’ll have made the right one.

So What Is Your Dream?

In order to work this out you’ll have to do a bit of inner soul-searching and ask yourself a lot of questions. Don’t forget to write all the answers down so that you can reread them later. At this point I need to give a big plug to a book called The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron. It really helped me work out what my dream was and make me determined to live it. The Artist’s Way is a 12 week course to help people ‘discover and recover their creative selves’ and I’m sure that some of the ideas I’m recommending come from the book.

I said it wouldn’t happen overnight but I’m sure that if you put a weekend aside and made a conscious decision to devote 48 hours to working out what your dream is you’d be closing in on it. Here’s what you need to do.

Seven Steps To Find Out What Your Dream Is

All you need is a pen, a notebook and some time to yourself. Try to spend a lot of time thinking and brainstorming as many ideas as possible. The more time you spend thinking and writing, the more you’ll get out of it.

1. Cast your mind back to your childhood.
What did you enjoy doing? Think about your favourite toy, game, book and place.
What made you totally happy?
What were you best at at school and at home?
Jot the answers to these questions down.

2. Now look at your present life.
Really spend time noticing how things made you feel. For example, recently I realised the smell of oranges makes me feel happy so next time I’m feeling down all I need to do is peel an orange and I’ll feel much happier.
What makes you happy now? Think of as many things, places and activities as you can.
Write it all down.

3. Now imagine you’ve got a death sentence on your head. Only one year to live.
Sorry, but what would you do in that final year? Where do your priorities lie?

4. Now think back to your childhood again and think about any negative comments or reactions to you doing the thing or things that you enjoyed. Write them down and ask yourself if they’re still holding you back from achieving your dream.

5. Is there an excuse you use for not following your dream? Then think about what you’d do if you weren’t so old/hard up/fearful etc. Just insert your excuses here. Write down the answers.

6. Now think about the things that you loved doing or that make you happy and seek them out. Treat yourself to a walk in the countryside, a visit to an art gallery, a day at home reading, wear your best clothes and enjoy your own company. Write a list of all the things that make you happy and all the things that you’d like to do more often and do them. Spend time by yourself and do some of these fun activities. Have fun.

7. Now take some time to reread your answers and think about what you’ve learnt. Is there any common thread or idea coming out of these?

Take Time To Work Out What Your Dream Is

Whether you do these over a weekend or spend an hour on it each night for three or four weeks, at the end of it you’ll be much closer to knowing what your dream is. Maybe you’ve worked it out already, but if not I hope this helps. I spend a lot of time thinking about my dreams and planning how to realise them and you should too, because we all need a dream that we can make come true.

Thanks for reading, I hope this helps. Feel free to add your comments below.

Good luck with all your plans!

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11 Responses

  1. Hello Buddy, you have got a nice blog. Can you tell me the name of the theme? I like it.

  2. Wow I didn’t realise just how much I loved receiving your blogs until I thought I had missed one…. I was very happy to receive notification of the newest addition…
    I love your themes… and they always seem to be just what I need to hear 🙂
    Love you…Love your bloggyness

  3. Thanks, Annabel – this blog seemed to be just what I needed to read this week!

    I have been asked to do a ‘literacy’ talk in front of 60 people next week…. these 60 people happen to 60 YEAR ONE children!!

    So I am aiming to inspire these young little minds into having fun with words and believing in their dreams… wow, they are like little sponges, so the pressure is really on, huh?!

    Feel free to give me any tips!

    Vicky xx

    • What a lovely good deed of the day. I wonder if kids still want to be astronauts, train drivers and nurses these days, or if they’ve all moved on to dreams of becoming computer game designers, sports players and pop stars? Either way, I believe a love of words, communication and literacy will stand them in great stead and make it easier for them to work out their dreams and realise them. Good luck, I hope they’re not too tough an audience!

  4. Hey Annabel,
    We all need reminders like this to keep us on track in following our own dreams, instead of spending so much time on other people’s visions of who we should be. BTW, you are welcome for lending you Julia Cameron!
    Love ya!

  5. Hello there…
    Just stumbled upon your blog!
    What a fabulous post!!

  6. Some dreams I test and they aren’t what I imagined them to be (the grass isn’t always greener deal.)

    Other dreams that are more pragmatic, I just act on and make happen (using my project management skills.)

    For my non-practical dreams, I get by with day dreams. For example, I would love a magic carpet ride 😉

    • Wonderful insights, thank you. It is great to have a few off the wall dreams, after all if you don’t dream you won’t get. The magic carpet ride sounds wonderful – I think you might be able to enjoy a simulated on at a theme park somewhere….

  7. Ok, this is how hard it is. I started off reading this and have had to stop twice to go and speak to children tell them to behave, tidy up, stop fighting, the usual. Makes me realise if I don’t get the time to spend 5 mins reading anything to myself how am I going to get a weekend to work out what it is I want and how to achieve it?
    It was inspiring though so fingers crossed it will now stay lodged in my brain and will nag me into finding time.

    • I really feel for you. I know what it’s like. Kids are all-consuming and you’re running a business too so you have demands coming from all sides. I lived as a slave to my children for many years and it wasn’t pretty. I sunk low and lost track of who I was for a long time. I needed anti-depressants and counseling to help me clamber back out of that hole and realise that I needed to prioritise myself. My family could only be happy when I was.

      It’s so important for women to have some time to themselves and be able to do something they enjoy. I think you need to start off small. Schedule an hour to yourself three times a week. Write it in your calendar and tell the hubby or older kids that you won’t be there so they’re in charge, and they also need to make supper and put away the clean laundry too.

      Now, you go and enjoy. Spend an hour walking somewhere beautiful and enjoy listening to the sounds of nature instead of constant demands. You’ll feel guilty but get over it!

      You’ve got me thinking actually. I’m pretty good at giving myself small amounts of time but longer is better and totally necessary too as least once a year. It’s time for me to have a weekend of family-free time, time for me to take stock, reevaluate and also just to be, be me, be free. Then time for me to come back to my family with a renewed energy and love.

      Thanks so much for sharing.

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