Want to Live Your Dream
5 Keys to Changing Course
I hear from a lot of people at various junctures along the road to
right livelihood. Some are at the very beginning, still trying to
figure out which path is right for them. Others have happily reached
their destination. Others are midway on their journey.
Regardless of where you are in the process, there are five keys to
1. Set big... and small
I know it sounds cliché, and especially at the start of the New
Year, but if you're really serious about taking control of your
life, you need to set some goals for yourself. Knowing that you want
to change your life or to work for yourself is a great start. But
expressing a desire if different than stating a goal.
In her Broadway show Signs of Intelligent Life in the Universe, Lily
Tomlin's bag lady character remarks, "I always wanted to be
I realize now I should have been more specific." Deciding you want
to earn money by making and selling gift baskets is much more
specific than saying you want to make money doing something
creative. But even here you need to get more precise.
One of the best ways to move a goal along is to quantify it. Using
our gift basket example, the key questions are how much money do you
want to make and by when. You can always shoot higher, but for now
let's think in terms of generating $5,000 in gift basket sales 2005.
From here you'd want to make your goal both real and reachable by
breaking it down into smaller more manageable goals, like, for
example, making and selling six gift baskets by February 15th.
Actually writing this date on your calendar will make it even more
2. Figure out what it
will take to reach your goal happen and start doing it
A long-time subscriber
named Joe understands the importance of looking to others for
inspiration. He also understands how important it is to hear not
just about people that have followed their dream and made it happen,
but also about, he says, about "those currently traveling the
pathway to a new career, setting goals for themselves, managing to
keep their dream alive and staying focused on the goal of a new
And setting and working toward a goal is exactly what this 33 year
old software engineer from Maryland is doing. But I'll let Joe tell
you about his plans – and progress – in his own words:
"A year and a half ago I started reading a lot of real estate
investing books. I wanted to get into the medical field as a
Physical Therapist and needed a way to supplement my income. I took
http://www.InvestorsUnited.com and for 10 months I soaked up all
of the real estate knowledge I could get."
[Editors Note: I checked out this school and it appears to be quite
"I worked with their advisors until I landed my first deal. It was a
rehab house and after I repaired it I made $28,000 profit for an
endeavor I spent five months on part-time. I was thrilled. I took
this money and used it to help purchase a rental property and
another rehab which I am now selling."
"I set goals for myself. My big goal is a career change at five
years. Presently I have four years left. I plan on generating enough
income to cover all of my expenses. I also have smaller goals. At
the two year mark I plan to make $1,000 net cash flow per month. At
three years I plan to make $2,000 net cash flow per month. This will
allow me to pursue Physical Therapy without worrying about money ! I
have volunteered in two hospitals and determined that this is where
"This is my journey. It's hard to wake up every morning and go to my
current job. However I now see an end in sight. I know that in a few
years I will be enjoying helping people everyday. And when that day
comes, it will be a dream come true."
Some of you are probably saying, "Five years! I can't wait that
long." You don't have to. Joe's goal is very specific – to generate
enough money from real estate to be able to fully support him during
his schooling. Depending on your goals, your financial situation,
your level of commitment, and the amount of time you're willing to
invest, you can certainly change course in far less time.
Whether you want to be living your new life in five years or in five
months, the point is to set a goal, quantifying it, and then, one
day at a time, take the small steps actions required to make your
3. Live life now
Shooting for a future goal is great. But I received a deeply moving
email this week that reminded me of the importance of also
remembering to live life fully in the moment. The email was from a
woman named Pam who wrote to thank me for inspiring her partner
Bruce, a man I never met but in some small way, I apparently
encouraged to live his dream. Pam has generously allowed me to share
her and Bruce's story with you.
Before he was killed instantly in a traffic accident last week Bruce
was living his dream. Bruce had been a computer consultant who,
explained Pam, tired of the cubicle life. "Although he made a
boatload of money doing it, he realized that there was more out
there to do. He always wanted to do something purposeful with his
life, and didn't see that the programs he wrote made much of an
Pam went on to say that she and Bruce lived together for two very
wonderful years, "living our dream. We both left the corporate
grind, had opened our own business as massage therapists. Bruce was
a wonderful man. He had healed so much in his life and many times
said, ‘If I'm to be the kind of spiritual man I wish to be, then I
need to work on this.' He was making a difference in people's lives
on a daily basis. I'm so very grateful for every moment that we
shared. We were blessed to have many friends. And I plan to continue
Although I never had the privilege of meeting Bruce, he sounds like
a truly remarkable human being and one who will be missed by many.
How wonderful that while he was among us Bruce was living his dream.
Pam's strength, her gratitude in the face of unspeakable grief and
her resolve to continue to live their dream is inspiring indeed.
When we think about goals, we tend to think about achieving some
future result. And yet as John Lennon once observed, "Life is what's
happening when you're making other plans." Bruce's story serves as
an important reminder that even while you strive to reach your
future goals, you must live life now and with as few regrets as
4. Break a rule
Sometimes changing course can begin with the simple act of shaking
up your normal routine. Take Barbara, a former coworker of mine from
my corporate days. Most people spend their Saturday mornings in a
frenzy of house cleaning and errands. Barbara does this stuff too
but not until after she's indulged herself by crawling back into bed
with a cup of coffee and popping in a suspense movie.
Spending your Saturday morning watching a movie may not be your cup
of tea, but surely there is some small fun thing you can do to shake
things up. If you tend to read self-help books try a romance novel.
Walk your dog in a totally new place or drive a different way to
work. Visit your local historic society or museum. On the first day
of each month have ice cream for breakfast. Go to the movies on a
weeknight. Experiencing small changes can make the bigger ones seem
5. Use the one step a
When I was desperately trying to get myself out of corporate
America, I promised myself that I would not go to bed at night until
I had taken at least one small step toward my goal. It doesn't have
to be a big step.
For example, I knew that at least in the short term, leaving my
job-job would mean I'd be earning less money. So one day I
brainstormed a list of ways to supplement my income. I have a
finished basement with a bath so one idea was rent it out to a
commuting grad student who needed a place to stay during the week.
The next day I stopped by the hardware store to see what I could
find out about sound proof ceiling tiles. The following day I looked
up the web site for the housing office at the local college and so
Not only do small steps add up but just as important is the sense of
momentum you'll gain. And once you get started on a dream, it's hard
"The big break for me," said Jon Stewart of the Daily Show, "was
deciding that this is my life." Another year is upon us. Since this
indeed your life, let this be the year you start making your dreams
Learn how you can Fast Track Your Dream of working at
what you love on your own terms.
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About the Author
"Profiting From Your Passions®" expert Valerie Young abandoned her corporate cubicle to become the Dreamer in Residence at ChangingCourse.com offering resources to help you discover your life mission and live it. Her career change tips have been cited in Kiplinger's, The Wall Street Journal, USA Today Weekend, Woman's Day, and elsewhere and on-line at MSN, CareerBuilder, and iVillage.com. An expert on the Impostor Syndrome, Valerie has spoken on the topic of How to Feel as Bright and Capable as Everyone Seems to Think You Are to such diverse organizations as Daimler Chrysler, Bristol-Meyers Squibb, Harvard, and American Women in Radio and Television.
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