Your Dream, Not Your Mom's

Pursue your own dreams to obtain the most life and work satisfaction.

By Lybi Ma, published November 5, 2004 - last reviewed on June 9, 2016

Everyone wants to get satisfaction out of his or her job. After all, we spend so much time at work. But it's a little hard to achieve if you're pursuing someone else's dream and not yours. There's nothing like having to drag yourself into work day in and day out if it is giving you little meaning.

To be successful, you have to be honest with yourself about what you truly want. Many people lose touch with what they want. Still others have never considered their own genuine desires.

Now is a good time to stop and ask what will give your work life meaning.

Maggie Craddock, executive coach and author of The Authentic Career, sees her share of clients who don't have a clue. For some, what they really want has never even occurred to them.

"To achieve your career goals, you must be clear about what they are and why they are meaningful for you," she says. Therefore you need to create a work life that is in tune with your talents and desires.

Here, Craddock offers a few tips to help you find your way:

  • Separate your desires from goals dictated by others. It's about what you want, not what they want.
  • Distinguish your personal values from those of your family and others in your life. Your parents, for example, may value ambition and a high-power career, but it may not be what you want.
  • Likewise, make sure you are defining success, not as your parents or spouse define it.
  • Make sure you are competing with your own best self, not with others—such as siblings, peers or even your mate.
  • Harmonize private desire with public goals. The things that give you joy and meaning should be in tune with your goals.
  • Learn to use intuition and intelligence in tandem. Let them reinforce each other. This may help crystallize your vision.
  • Understand the role that financial considerations have played in your career choices.
  • Network and build peer support. This will help you see yourself more clearly.
  • If you have a partner, formulate a fair and clear agreement concerning time spent on family and work. Make sure you want the same things in life.
  • Know your emotional triggers. For example, if you have a boss who tends to blow up, don't set yourself up to be the target of his tirade. Otherwise it will trigger your own issues and further cloud your vision.
  • Get in tune with your body. Physical responses such as shallow breathing and a rapid heartbeat may consume you in tense work situations. These responses suppress feelings and make it hard for you to see clearly.
  • Even if you are reasonably content with your career now, know that the world keeps changing. Keep your eyes and mind open. Otherwise good opportunities may pass you by.
  • If you have a dream, such as writing a novel, keep plugging away and don't be distracted. It's easy to say, "I don't have time."