Years ago I heard an interview on NPR about getting your dream job (I forget completely the identity of either the interviewer or interviewee). The thing I remember hearing is one guy say:
The way to get the job of your dreams is to figure out what it is and then be willing to do it for free
This really impacted me at the time, and because I was so young and ripe to hear such propaganda (19 and a recent college graduate), I took that advice and ran with it.
(One thing I have realized in my reflecting on this is that you have to be SO CAREFUL about the advice you give to young people, because contrary to popular belief that young people are contrary for the most part, they are actually highly impressionable and often take advice (much more than older people) — although it can be from some random or inane source (anonymous NPR messaging in my case). In any event…)
What was the job of my dreams (at the time)? Being an organic farmer.Luckily, my parents had just recently sold everything they owned and bought a small five-acre farm in South Florida. It was their retirement plan in a way, although the work of a small organic farm is pretty non-retired.
The opportunity for me to start living my dream (and working at my dream job for FREE) was right in front of me, it was a pretty easy no-brainer. I took the chance and have been doing it (for free) for the last 15 years.
Pretty amazing accomplishment now that I am thinking about it, and not just for the fact that the farm has been the most consistent dedication in my life, but that after all this time I haven’t figured out a way to make the dream highly profitable (as of yet) and still I can think of no worthier pursuit. When you are spending your time doing the best thing you can imagine in the universe it is possible to forgo old comforts like a paycheck or air conditioning. Maybe your dream won’t require you to give up those things to actualize it, but you will have to give up a few big things you have been holding onto if you want to cash in on your dreams.
What does the value of living your dream cost you?
(Spoiler alert* it costs you everything)
The first answer is your illusions; you have to trade them in for the realmanifestation of the thing you most want. It doesn’t seem like it’s always a fair deal. Sometimes the fantasy is way, way better; sometimes, the fantasy is all you really wanted. Sometimes when you actualize a dream, it’s no longer available to you in a pure and personal way (as a dream) and the loss of that motivating factor (some people are highly dreamy) is more upsetting than the reward of having the fantasy thing (in glaring real life detail) fulfilled.
This happens all the time in romantic relationships or sexual conquests. Think of all the people who’s dream it was to get married (in general or to a specific someone) and then ask them after they get their wish, how this whole thing of the dream turning to nightmare works. They know (at least half of them do).
A lot of people think the biggest obstacle to them living their dream life or working their dream job is finding out what it is. This is a problem I can have empathy for, and I have seen it many times. It’s not what this article is really about, but does deserve some attention, and perhaps another article in itself.
If you don’t know what you would do if you could do anything — I would say, start thinking about it. It’s a pretty good question, but the answer is not immediately obvious toeveryone (and btw, the answer is also TOTALLY different for each person).
This is a common mistake I see people who are living their dream life/working their dream job make — assuming that their dream can be shared with/is the same as other people’s. Sure, it can be (for a small and select like-minded few) but in general, not everyone wants to be a small organic farmer — I know, hard to believe for some of you, but believe me, it’s not for everyone, and everyone usually knows it.
If you are still at the stage where you are trying to figure out what your dream job/life would look like, I can’t really help you too much. That creative imagination has to come from you; it’s one of those situations where you have to do your own work. I will, however, encourage you to meditate on it,and even though it may be a vague and dangerous suggestion, I’m going to stand by it.
The whole purpose of this piece is to explore what it takes to live your dream — consciously. I threw in that last part because thinking you know what you want is the first requirement to getting it. How to actually get it — how they hell should I say? In my own case, I have had an equal amount of luck, grace, sheer will and fervent prayer on my part that has kept me living the farm dream for all these years. It’s a complicated and almost unexplainable story if detailed out and would interest few too many. But I will boil down all the details and tell you what IMO has kept me steadily living the dream —
an acknowledgement from the beginning that it’s exactly that — a dream life.
It’s very easy to love and forgive something that is your ultimate dream.Don’t know what I am talking about? Keep on looking for that thing which is so awesome (look first in your imagination) you would do it if you had unlimited money.
Think you would do nothing? Just be a leisure cat? Well, maybe you are just an innately lazy, self-indulgent, couch warmer — chances are you are even closer than you think to living your ultimate dream; you might already be doing it.
Maybe you think you would write or play music or just be and enjoy life — that shit is super easy and free to begin as well.
The thing is, the more you really think about your ultimate dream life, the more it will begin to show up in your real life, as opportunities for you to try out. The real test is when you have taken that opportunity, and are midway in it.
I think of motherhood as a great illustration of this; how many of you ladies out there wanted nothing more than to be a mother — even if this was something that only momentarily or for a time period took over your aspirations. I have met many a woman who was completely set on actualizing their dream of being a mother….yeah, that’s a great one. Great dream. And a waking (multiple times through the night) nightmare.
But guess what…they are all like that.
All ultimate life dreams are ultimately nightmares at some point. At some point is the key word to remember in this one. Because if you are patient (and loving and forgiving) you will allow the moment of nightmarishness to pass. And then you will be even more solidly living the dream you said you wanted to experience more than any other. Trust me, the way out on that one — when your dream (whatever it is) becomes your nightmare — is through.
Now, this is an important point, because at some point it will definitely happen. No matter what your dream is or how much you think it won’t happen, when you start living it, at some point, you are going to rear your ugly head of ingratitude and experience the shitty side of the dream. Don’t freak out. That’s a good start. And if you remember this warning in time you may just save yourself from sabotaging your situation in lieu of an even worse reality — what happens when you wake up from the dream.
I know so many dream analogies, but here is the last one. What does happen when you wake up from a really good dream? Or maybe one that wasn’t 100% good, but was clearly meaningful and more significant than the average dream. For me, I usually try to remember it and interpret it. This is something that is again, best done by each person for themselves. I mean, there are some books and psychologists and shamans that act as guides for dream interpretation, but the real best dream interpreter is the dreamer. All those other experts will usually just direct you back to yourself. So Great.