What To Do When Your Dreams Come True

This is a guest post from my friend Gene Jennings.  Gene was kind enough to host me at the Masters this year, and I love what he’s up to.  He’s currently trying to make a difference in every single country in the world, with his project Mission 227.

I had a dream in 1987 when I was working on my Masters degree in Fort Worth, Texas – one that I thought would never come true.

I made many attempts toward making my dream a reality. My first effort started in Atlanta. After two years of struggle, it fizzled out. Several years later, I gave it another try but “the powers that be” in my organization shot it down.

On the third attempt, my family went out on a limb to make the dream come true. We moved to our hometown in South Carolina but, unfortunately, that endeavor flopped too.

I finally found a position that was close to the dream job but it still wasn’t exactly what I had envisioned. I was content and happy. Even though that position was still a little off the mark, I thought I was being selfish to ask for anything better than what I had.

In 2003, a mutual friend who knew my dream shared it with one of his friends. Turns out there were two of us with the identical goal! My new friend got it started in 2004 and invited me to join him a couple of years later.

My dream job had finally come true – 19 years after it was birthed in me. It was (and still is) amazing! However, now that I’ve reached what I thought would be the pinnacle of my career, I find myself wondering, “What’s next?” I’m not sure that I’m content to stay in this position forever even though it had been my dream job for years.

I want to keep the journey alive. I want to continue pursuing seemingly impossible dreams.

I’ve been pondering this for the past several years. In the middle of my mountaintop experience, I’m looking for other mountains to climb.

So, what do you do when your dreams come true? Here are a few pointers:

1. Bask in it

First of all, enjoy your dream! You worked hard. Your dream is a reality! Celebrate your accomplishments. My first day “on the job” was monumental. I remember exactly where I was standing when it all came down on me. Tears of joy rolled down my cheeks as I thanked God for seeing my vision through.

Even now, six years into my dream job, I still find myself getting emotional with an attitude of humility and thanksgiving that I get to enjoy a situation that I often doubted would ever come true.

2. Share it

When I have a chance, I like to share my story with others so they’ll know that dreams do come true. I like to encourage others to pursue their dreams. I write about it and share books and websites with others searching for help. Writers like Sean, Chris Guillebeau, and Tammy Strobel are great examples of people who are living and sharing their dream lives.

3. Look up and look back

While you’re basking in the glory of your dream and sharing it with others, look up. There’s another mountain for you to climb. Begin to determine your next dream. To get started, ask these two questions:

  • If my life were absolutely perfect, how would it look?
  • What unique passions and abilities do I have that can be used to bring fulfillment and joy to me while helping others in need?

Look for your next mountaintop experience using these questions. Then, look back at your previous climb for help with your new adventure.

  • How did you make the last dream come true?
  • What can you learn from your last experience?
  • What obstacles do you expect?
  • How can you avoid obstacles?
  • What or who do you need to avoid?
  • Who do you need for support?
  • What do you need to learn?

4. Stay balanced

Unfortunately, many dreamers are so focused and determined in their pursuit that they forget about the other priorities in their lives. They believe that when their dream comes true they will be able to compensate for all of the late nights and weekends at the office. But the significant people in your life can’t wait that long. Even if dreamers say they’re doing it for their wife and family, by the time the dream is accomplished, it’s the second wife and the second family that enjoys the fruit of their labor.

Many people have reached their dreams but wasted their lives. They selfishly focused solely on themselves. They were dogs in the dog-eat-dog world. They climbed over people, shoved others out of the way, and sacrificed relationships for the sake of the dream.When (if) they got to the mountaintop, they looked around and discovered they were all alone. Don’t be one of those people.

Live with your priorities and values in order. No dream is worth sacrificing precious relationships. Don’t let your dreams turn into nightmares.

5. Enjoy the journey

I love to travel. I love getting my passport stamped. Whether it’s a thirty minute flight or a twenty hour flight, I enjoy the entire experience.

You must do the same thing with life and the pursuit of your dreams.

Seeking your dreams is a pilgrimage, not a destination. You must enjoy the journey to your dreams. I wasn’t miserable during the entire 19 years that it took me to reach my dream job. In fact, most of those times were great. I made wonderful memories along the way, created many close relationships and learned lots of lessons!

Of course, things were not perfect. Guess what? They’re not perfect now. You’ll never be in a perfect situation as long as you live in an imperfect world. If you’re dreaming of perfection, I’ve got bad news for you – even your dream job, dream house, dream location, dream car, or dream girl will disappoint you at times.

It’s how you live your life en route to your dream that counts. Life is better when you have a sustaining practice that holds your desire, demands your attention, and requires effort.

Henry James wrote, “True happiness, we are told, consists in getting out of one’s self; but the point is not only to get out – you must stay out; and to stay out you must have some absorbing errand.”

Your next dream is your absorbing errand.

6. Be grateful

Perhaps one of the greatest character traits we can have is gratitude. Whether you’re living your dream or not, you likely have tons of reasons to be thankful. If you’re reading this, you are probably one of the richest people in the world. Don’t believe me? Check out Global Rich List.

Stop and count your blessings regularly. Just the fact that you are in a position to accomplish your dreams is a reason to be grateful. Two billion people on this planet live on $2 or less per day. They can dream too. But it’s much harder for them to see dreams come true than it is for you.

Gratitude not only allows you to enjoy the present, but keeps you looking forward to the future.

So, you may be wondering what mountains I’m climbing now. Last year, I began Mission 227. I want to make an impact in every country on the planet. I also have writing projects in the works and I want to free up more time to do mission work around the world.

I’m still climbing. Life is boring without a summit to attain. Do you have an “absorbing errand” that motivates and excites you every day? If not, perhaps it’s time to think about it.

Photo Credit: Dexxus

Caelan Huntress October 8, 2012 at 7:37 am

After attaining my dream (moving to Costa Rica and running my business from my laptop) I started getting tripped up on the little stuff. Annoyed by pesky small inconsequential things.

One day I looked around and said, “Why should I ever be upset in an environment like this?”

Our habit, as human beings, is to be problem solvers. We’re always looking for what’s wrong so we can “fix” it.

It’s much better to be grateful for what is, so that you can allow more of that awesome to come to you.

I love your line, “Gratitude not only allows you to enjoy the present, but keeps you looking forward to the future.” So true.

Reply

Gene Jennings October 12, 2012 at 6:56 am

Caelan,

You’re living one of my potential new dreams! I’ve been to Costa Rica 7-8 times. Love it! Even looked at buying property there briefly. I’d be there in a heartbeat but my wife isn’t as keen on the idea as I am. Which is part of my point 4 “Stay Balanced.” While I would selfishly love to live and work in CR, my wife is not as interested. I value my wife more than my desire to live in CR so I will stay right here in South Carolina!

Be blessed!

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Liz | Two Weeks to Travel October 8, 2012 at 9:16 am

Huzzah! Great post. I always had a dream of working for myself, ever since high school, and for a really long time I never thought it would ever happen. But tomorrow I start my last week of a 9-5 job. This time next week, I will be working for myself, full time! It might take a while and a very strange and bumpy path, but I think dreams do come true.

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Gene Jennings October 12, 2012 at 6:57 am

That’s awesome, Liz! Glad to hear your dreams are coming true!

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Chad October 8, 2012 at 9:27 am

This is a great post! Put a lot into perspective. I love the thought of looking at life and dreams as the journey and not the destinations. I think it’s great that you mentioned some failures too – goes to show that just because one idea didn’t work doesn’t mean you’re not destined to achieve your dreams if you keep your eyes open and work hard.

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Gene Jennings October 12, 2012 at 6:58 am

Thanks Chad! Hope your dreams come true too!

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Michael Charalambous October 8, 2012 at 11:37 am

Very interesting thoughts really. I’m somewhat discomforted with it, as I fall into the category of which see’s me focusing, selfishly on myself. How to find a balance!

It does depend on how you view it though, was a decision made because I’m selfish, or because it was the right choice which ended in me seeming selfish? Hmmm, either way I guess you don’t know until you try.

But you’re right, what’s the point in climbing a mountain if all you see when you get to the top is loneliness… I guess you have to be in the right mindset too.

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Joe Cassandra October 8, 2012 at 12:11 pm

Great post Gene!

Being grateful is where it is at! Especially when you know you’ve achieved your dreams and millions of others don’t know where to start! I’m waiting for my day to share with my wife and [future] kids lol

Thanks Gene

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Gene Jennings October 12, 2012 at 6:59 am

Thanks for the encouragement, Joe!

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Darlene October 9, 2012 at 11:24 pm

Just curious, what IS your dream job anyway?

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Gene Jennings October 10, 2012 at 4:54 am

Thanks for the positive feedback. And thanks again to Sean for allowing me to write for Location 180!

Darlene, if you go to the link below you’ll see another link with a more detailed description of my dream job.

http://www.questforanewperspective.com/personal-development/what-to-do-when-your-dreams-come-true/

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