Running Down YOUR dreams; with thanks to Tom Petty

Yeah, runnin down a dream
That never would come to me
Workin on a mystery, goin wherever it leads
Runnin down a dream

Many times I think people get annoyed at my unsolicited advice, that is, when they tell me about their problems and I offer suggestions without being asked. Some of things I say may be unsettling or frightening to them, because my ideas don’t fit in with the way they see their life unfolding or their plans for the future. If you are, or have ever been, on the receiving end of this advice and think it goofy or intrusive or just plain rude, well I guess I should apologize, but you know dammit life is too short not to share my heart with my friends.

If I share advice with you, yes, it is from my heart, my gut, my intuition, and I know deep down it is what you need to hear. I may be wrong, either at the time or in the future, but what comes out of my mouth is the result of a search of my heart for the best way to help you. I am not insulted if you don’t follow my advice, of course; what do I know? I just hope that I help you stop and think, and maybe climb out of the box in which you put yourself.

So what is “running down your dreams”? This post is directed at everyone, including me; I am only now starting to reap the benefits of this advice, having wandered around blind for so many years. (Always on my path, of course, but never trusting it.) Thinking about (and planning for) my own dreams lately prompts me to share these ideas with you. Hopefully they will help all of us navigate our way through this crazy journey we call life.

Life coaches and other advice-givers always prattle on about following your “dreams” or “passions”, but what does that mean exactly? It’s worth stopping to talk about. The idea is to jettison, just for a moment, all the “shoulds” in your life; all the barriers erected by what is practical and within your immediate reach, and just focus on yourself. What are your dreams? What are you passionate about? What would you do for free (if you didn’t have to make a living; remember we are suspending everyday life for a bit here-yeah I know! But you can do it). What gets you excited, and makes you want to move, and do something?

What is your passion-what do you love, what fires you up? If you can find a way to start using that passion, and showing it to the world, the fire in your belly will come through, and as people see that fire, opportunities will open up for you. Hiding your passion because you can’t earn any money doing it means that no one else will ever know. Expose it to the light (and if you have several, or many, like I do, expose as many as you can) because you don’t know when an opportunity will present itself.

Don’t dismiss these things out of hand because you can’t immediately implement them-they will probably require (many) interim steps along the way, especially if you have to make a living in the meantime. Do something every day that brings you closer to those dreams.

Speaking of making a living, if you have a degree that is useless, use your brain (and your intuition) instead! The most important skill in this crazy world is adaptability. How can you use your plentiful skills, knowledge, and experience to provide a product or service somebody wants? Open your heart and mind and opportunity will follow, even if it doesn’t lead directly to your dreams.

Use your networks! That means everyone you know, not just the people in the field in which you have skills or experience now. Open up to all opportunities! You have friends, relatives, and acquaintances; they may not be in your field, but they know you and they know other people. If you don’t expand your horizons, who knows what you may miss out on?

So many times I hear people say that they need a certain type of job and nothing else will do; they refuse to go in a different direction or adjust their goals or strike out on a different path. But life is not a straight path, for most of us anyway, and especially in tough economic times, we must be willing to adapt to circumstances and explore different opportunities, including following a path that may not lead in the direction of our plans.

Follow your instincts-pay attention to your gut. We all have intuition, and it is dying to help us move in the best direction, but so many of us rely on our brains exclusively (or maybe I should say that small part of the brain that we know about). Your intuition is invaluable-pay attention! Those “feelings” come from your soul, and should not be tossed aside. So many times we afraid to travel down a path because we can’t plan out every single step; we just need to trust ourselves to move in the right direction. Sometimes the path to our passion takes us through territory that doesn’t make any sense to us, but everything we do along the way teaches us and prepares us for the next step. Everyone you meet has a purpose in your life, be it for 10 minutes or a lifetime-pay attention!

What will you do when you grow up? I have asked myself this question a thousand times and still, at 52, don’t have the answer. I always envied people who, at 18 years old or earlier, had a goal which they pursued singlemindedly to great success. This kind of certainty has always eluded me. Finally, though, I am at peace with the fact that I may never know; that I am not on this earth to “do” just one thing, but instead I must follow my nose. Now of course this doesn’t mean we don’t have plans and goals-how can one implement dreams without a game plan? It just means that, well, life is what happens when we are making other plans. Don’t waste a lot of time and energy bemoaning and lamenting when plans go awry; look to where you are standing and keep moving!

If you have lots of interests and passions, I hope you can realize that you may not be destined to do just one thing, but many things, and to berate yourself for indecision is counterproductive. Making a decision to do something now doesn’t rule out all those other options later on. Don’t be afraid to commit to a path; because you can pick up your feet and move them later on. Life changes, priorities change, don’t get stuck!

One foot in front of the other; the path will appear. We are not human beings having a spiritual experience, but spiritual beings having a human experience-make the most of yours!

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