I almost laughed. Right after I almost choked. At the end of a motivational talk about pursuing dreams with inner-city teenagers, a high school senior informed me that he felt neither inspired nor motivated.
“How am I supposed to know what I want to do with the rest of my life?” asked the 18 year-old student. “I don’t even know what I want to do tomorrow.”
Some people have always known their career path. Others have given up on their dreams; some forgot they ever had one. If you want to rediscover your dream, it may be helpful to recall what you enjoyed doing when you were a child.
I wanted to be a cowboy when I was a little girl. Then I wanted to be a veterinarian. And I wrote. I wrote stories. I wrote plays. I wrote newspaper articles that were never submitted. When I ran out of notebook paper, I wrote on the back of old homework assignments, brown paper bags, and paper plates. As I grew older, I discovered I could get paid if I provided editing services to college students and writers. I taught students elementary, secondary, and postsecondary students how to write. I provided writing workshops for children and adults.
I almost forgot how much I loved to write. I had to engage in some pretty hefty soul-searching to distinguish (1) what I wanted to do from (2) what I thought I was expected to do and (3) what I went to college to become trained to do.
In most schools, middle school students select exploratory classes that expose them to new experiences. When they enter high school, they are encouraged to select classes that align with their chosen career fields. Most high school students are forced to define a career path at a time when they are much more concerned if anyone knows they exist. The process of self-discovery is pushed aside and course selection becomes an act of making a career decision (any decision) that feels inescapably grounded in stone.
“What do you want to do?” I asked Anthony.
“I don’t know,” he admitted.
“What do you like to do?”
“I’m not sure.”
“Do you have a dream?” I inquired.
“I don’t know,” he replied. “Nobody’s ever asked me that before.”
Schools provide students with planners and calendars designed to organize information in ways that prepare them to meet state academic standards. If we show students how to meet extrinsic goals without integrating processes that invite them to discover and articulate their own goals, the planner distribution process becomes one that trains young people how to look outside of themselves for direction. We must encourage our youth – and one another – to discover and articulate their dreams. Goals without a dream are like arrows without a target.Goals without a dream are like arrows without a target. - Julie Connor, Ed.D.Click To Tweet
A dream transitions into life experiences when you invest time, commitment, and effort in pursuing it. Your passion is the driving force to discovering your purpose.
How can you more clearly articulate your dream? Try these steps:
Brainstorm. Ask other people about their dreams. Talk to others about your dream. Listen. Share. Discover.
Conduct research. Read. Engage in dream web surfing on the Internet. Talk to others who have transformed their dreams into a career.
Practice. Hone your skills. Take lessons. Watch YouTube videos about subject matter that interests you. Enroll in classes.
Get inspired. Post pictures of role models who inspire you in places where you can see them. Find photos from magazines to inspire you. Read inspirational quotations that make you feel motivated such as Inspiring Quotes from Inspiring Authors.
Create a vision board. A vision board is a creative collection of images and words mounted on a poster board that reflect your preferences, passions, and goals. When you surround yourself with inspiring words and images, you subconsciously welcome new ideas and exciting possibilities into your life. Follow this link to learn how to Create an Awesome Vision Board.
Create a clear vision. A vision statement is a mental image of what you believe is possible. It expresses who you want to become and flows from your core values. Create personal vision and mission statements with these tips.
Create affirmations. Affirmations are positive statements of your intentions. They are always present tense, personal, and specific. Positive affirmations such as “I am proud of my creative gifts” support your belief in the potential within you. Mike Dooley, author of Leveraging the Universe: 7 Steps to Engaging Life’s Magic, insists, “Our positive thoughts are at least 10,000 times more powerful than our negative thoughts.”
Develop a daily journaling practice. The course of my life changed when I converted my daily misery-and-difficulties writing practice into a gratitude practice. I record all of the things that fill me with gratitude as part of my morning prayer – and, in the process – developed a journal practice that is rooted in positive expectation. Engaged in an optimistic daily writing practice, my dreams reintroduced themselves to me.
I reached into my tote bag and pulled out a new spiral journal. The words, Think Big, danced on its cover. I gave the journal to Anthony.
“What’s this?” he asked.
“It’s a dream journal,” I explained.
“I don’t know if I got any big dreams,” he mumbled.
“Well, why don’t you find out?” I replied, giving him a pen. “Discover what your hand wants to reveal to you.”
It’s never too late to start your dream discovery journey. Start today. Your dream is waiting for you.
What are your passions? What do you love doing in your free time?
Do you need a dream? Think about it as you read 7 Reasons Why You Need a Dream.
Discover how to put your dream into words with tips from Write a Personal Purpose Statement.
Create personal reminders that lift your spirits with suggestions from Put the Positive in Your Affirmation.
Why It’s Important to Talk to Young People About Their Dreams explains the value of conversations that build relations and inspire teens.
Are you ready to pursue your dream? Get Dreams to Action Trailblazer’s Guide and transform your dream into reality.