How To Live The Dream

Last week while waiting for the elevator my colleague approached, asking me how I was doing. Before I could answer, he asked a follow-up question, “Living the dream?” The tone of his voice changed, conveying a hint of of irony and contempt. Though this question is somewhat of a figure of a speech, I still paused to reflect. I realized, actually, yes. I am living my dream… at least a part of it. But it wasn’t always this way.

You see, in my recent past I had small scale dreams. Like a nap or massage. Running on the hamster wheel of Corporate America life, I was merely trying to survive the day to day chaos. There was certainly no time to think about and make plans for serious dreams. In college, Corporate America WAS.THE.DREAM. My ideas on the future were loosey-goosey, starting with “Some day I will...” without a plan. After all, I had a million work emails to answer and a hundred fires to distinguish.

While emails and fires sound challenging and all (dare I say faux-heroic), it was actually really easy. I was an expert at consuming time with the mundane, allowing my job to run my life and coasting along letting life happen to me. Not very powerful, right?

I didn’t leave time to examine my life, asking questions that truly matter, like “What do I really, really, want?” or “How do I truly want to feel?”.

So, why don’t we ask ourselves these questions?

Here are a few reasons (notice a theme?):

  1. I worked too hard to get where I am. After all these years, I’m afraid to admit I don’t want this after all.

  2. What I really want is not possible because <x>.

  3. What I really want is too hard and I don’t know how to begin.

  4. What I really want is not supported by my parents/friends/family/etc.

  5. I have no frickin' clue what I want or where to start.

  6. Life can’t possibly be that good.

  7. I don’t deserve what I want.

  8. What if I do actually achieve what I want? Then what?

Themes: FEAR and DOUBT.  

Perhaps you relate to some of the points above. When things start to get really scary and the possibility of making a big change start to become clear, we backpedal. We often self-sabotage, and think of all the reasons why something isn’t possible, and opt for staying in our comfort zones.

So take time this weekend and ask yourself, “What do I really, really, want?”. As a start, write it down. The next time you’re asked if you’re living the dream, maybe you’ll say “Yes.”, with a sparkle in your eye. As I did with my colleague.

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