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 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.
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