“Those who go over the top have a dream, and their dream has them.”
Zig Ziglar, motivational speaker
In a recent Gallup Poll, 1 million college graduates were asked if they were working in a field for which they had studied. A mere 20% answered “yes.” Eighty percent of the people were working in jobs that did not line up with their dreams. So it’s no wonder that 50% of the respondents said they hated their jobs. In fact, they would have preferred to take their job and shove it.
That’s sad. But it’s also a colossal waste of time, talent, and energy.
When you fail to follow your dream, you will lack passion. Life and work will seem more like an existence than an excitement. And like a helium balloon, you will start to fizzle and drift downward, wondering “Why should I bother?” and “What’s the point?”
Others of you don’t even have a dream, let alone follow it. Please, please, please, do yourself a favor. Don’t live another day without clarifying your dream and then living your dream.
It’s the very first point I make in my new book, “The Payoff Principle: Discover the 3 Secrets for Getting What You Want Out of Life and Work.”
The new year is just around the corner and here are five tips you can use to get a dream and get it working for you.
1. Give yourself permission to dream.
One of my coaching clients told me that he hated his job, but he was pretty much stuck doing what he was doing. After all, he had decided as a teenager to become an accountant, and he had spent years of time and thousands of dollars earning two college degrees in accounting and a CPA certification.
I simply asked him if he had ever consulted a 17-year old for career advice. “No, of course not,” he said. “That would be silly. What do they know about the world of business?”
“Well,” I replied, “that’s what you’ve been doing for years, letting the thoughts and decision of a 17-year old control your life.” It was silly, and it was hurting him personally and professionally.
You need to let the unexciting dreams of yesterday die. Stop pursuing something that does not have the ability to excite you anymore. Don’t feel obligated to keep on trying to achieve a dream that no longer means anything to you.
Remember, dreams can change. Some day you will look back at this very moment and realize that what seemed so vital to you at age 20 means almost nothing at 40. That’s okay. That’s life. Give yourself permission to dream and even change your dreams.
Follow the great football coach Lou Holtz’s advice. Ask yourself the WIN question: What’s Important NOW?”
2. Remind yourself how important your dreams are for … YOU.
Some people will not understand your dreams. Other people will not share your dreams. And that’s okay, also. Simply refuse to be intimidated by their efforts to persuade you to move in a different direction with your life.
Likewise, we all need to permit other people to have their dreams. They’re individuals and they have every right to love what they love.
Your dreams are important for YOU because they give you direction. As Don McAvoy, Sr. from Jeffersonville, PA says, “Dream and the future takes form.”
Dreams keep you young. Author and pastor Tony Compollo remarks, “You’re old when your memories are more precious than your dreams.”
And dreams make you noble. Robert Fritz, the composer, filmmaker, and author, was so right when he said, “In the presence of greatness, pettiness disappears. In the absence of a great dream, pettiness prevails.”
Once you’ve given yourself permission to dream and reminded yourself how important dreams are,
3. Clarify your dream.
Without a clear dream, you’re living your life and working your career by default rather than design.
To get beyond that, try this. Invest one hour to writing down all the goals and dreams that really matter to you at this point. The more you write the more clarity you will achieve. And for the time being, keep them confidential and private. Don’t let them get shot down in their early stages of development by some well-intentioned nay-sayer.
The charming and witty Laura Bush, our former first lady, gave an example of that when I was in a meeting with her. With a twinkle in her eye, she said if your dream was to improve your relationship with your spouse, if your dream was to have him or her change for the better, you could order flowers and have them sent to you every week for 12 weeks in a row with no card. She said, “Your dream will come true. Your spouse will change.”
4. Commit yourself to your dream.
You’ve got to do more than get a dream. You need to commit yourself to your dream. As David McNally, author of “Even Eagles Need A Push,” makes that clear when he writes, “A true commitment is a heartfelt promise to yourself from which you will not back down.”
Real Producers, as I talk about in my book, “The Payoff Principle,” make a commitment to their dream and pursue it with dogged patience and persistence. Commitment produces consistent, enthusiastic effort and that inevitably produces increasingly greater payoffs.
Of course, a real commitment to a great dream may shake up your relationships. That’s why I tell some of my other coaching clients that they should avoid intimate relationships with those who do not truly respect their dreams. They may have to sever ties. Life is too short to allow the discouragers to get too close to them.
Finally, to make your dream for 2015 and beyond a reality,
5. Apply energy to your dream.
The Bible scholar Henrietta Mears used to say, “It is difficult to steer a parked car, so get moving.”
Peter Marshall, the chaplain to the United States Senate, chided the senators when he preached, “Let us not be content to wait and see what will happen, but give us the determination to make the right things happen.”
To make next year the best year of your life, use these five tips.