I recently received an email from someone who reads the blog. The subject was titled, “How do I figure out my Big Dream?”.
And I swear I could have written it myself.
You might not know this, but in the last decade I’ve launched four different businesses serving four completely different customers.
I changed majors in college.
My bachelor’s degree had nothing to do with the master’s degree I earned. And my master’s degree had nothing to do with the career I pursued afterwards.
And I used to beat myself up over it. I used to think that I was flaky. Unable to commit. All over the place.
But looking back, I realize now that I was just figuring out my Big Dream.
The Mythical Venn Diagram
Do you know what a Venn diagram is?
Think of a circle representing some group of things. Then draw another circle partially overlapping the first, representing some second related category. That overlap region is everything that the two categories have in common.
If you search for the phrase: “How do I figure out my big dream?”, you are bound to come across a Venn diagram with circles representing your passion (“What do you love?”), your skills (“What can you do well?”), and the value of what you can provide the world (“What will people pay you for?”).
Living in the center where all three circles overlap is your mission, your purpose, your Big Dream.
But the Venn diagram doesn’t tell the whole story.
Everyone draws this diagram with crisp, sharply defined circles on a static frame.
But the truth is more complicated. In real life, those circles are fuzzy and only partially understood. They only come into focus as you act, learn and grow. And here’s the kicker: they can drift over time.
That’s right. The thing few people ever tell you is that today’s Big Dream may not be the Big Dream you have for yourself a year from now. It almost certainly will not be the same Big Dream you have for yourself ten years from now.
You Have a Choice
There are two ways to look at this fact. You can let it paralyze you or you can choose to let it set you free.
If you think that you only get to have one Big Dream, or if you equate your Big Dream with your “life’s work,” then you are going to soon discover that you’re aiming for a moving target. And that’s eventually going to frustrate you, deflate you and stall you out.
But you can choose to embrace the journey, to start somewhere, and look upon your Big Dream as the beginning of a voyage of self-discovery. If you do that, then finding out that your mission can change over time feels energizing, like an invitation to explore even more of what your life has to offer.
And isn’t that a more realistic way to look at things? Think about the Big Dreams you had when you were six years old. If those dreams never evolved and changed, there would be a lot more firefighters and ballerinas in the world, I can assure you.
I’ve said it before on the blog: your Big Dreams are not the destination. They are the starting point, the roadmap towards living a life that you love.
But you have to start living that life. You have to start acting, creating and doing in order to better define your passions, determine your skills and undertand your value. Your Big Dream is something that only comes into focus and becomes tangible as you move and grow and learn.
Start Living Today to Dream for Tomorrow
So what should you do if you’re having trouble figuring out your Big Dream?
First, define what you love to do. You may believe that there’s nothing that you feel incredibly, overwhelmingly passionate about. So dig deeper. Think about the things you have loved to do since you were a child. Boil those experiences down to their essence and see if you can discern any common themes or patterns. It’s ok if you don’t have a long or detailed list; just start somewhere.
Next, determine the things that you are good at doing and pick one thing that you can focus on becoming great at doing. Hopefully it’s a skill that feeds something you feel passionate about. Now, it may feel hard to pick just one thing, especially if you’re good at lots of things. But realize that you are only setting aside those other good things for now, not forever.
Then, come to an understanding of the ways that you can serve others, enrich their lives and meet their needs. To do this, you have to live in the world. You have to really listen to people and invest in their struggles. You have to recognize the value of community and the ways we are all interconnected.
Align something that brings you joy with a skill that you can hone into greatness and the value that you can provide to others. There is your Big Dream.
Your fuzzy, poorly understood, ever-evolving Big Dream.
And that’s ok. Because you need a starting point to get started. You need a roadmap to keep from veering off into a ditch. You need to stop waiting for your Big Dream to reveal itself, and you need to start living into it so that your Big Dream can grow as you grow.
Now here’s the key: never stop repeating this process. As you build upon that dream, you’ll learn more about yourself and your passions. You’ll gain new skills. You’ll understand how you can serve even better and more completely.
The lines of those Venn diagram circles will sharpen.
And as your Big Dream comes into better focus, you’ll discover that it has become something different, something more fulfilling than it was before.
Don’t wait for inspiration to strike before you start living into your dreams. Live first to bring the dream into being. Then dream anew to live more fully.
My Big Dream has come into sharp focus, and I’m almost ready to reveal it on the blog. The newsletter subscribers are already in on the big news coming your way. Have you signed up yet?
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