The Unicorn-Free Way to Follow Your Dreams

You've got this inkling about the kind of work you'd like to do. But every time you think about it, this voice inside you says,

"I’m a grownup, fer cryin’ out loud! I have bills to pay; I can’t spend my life chasing sparkly unicorn dreams."

Ok, to give proper credit, that's actually a comment from a reader on a recent blog post. But let's break this down bit by bit.

I'm a grown-up.

Yes. You have responsibilities and need to be practical. Check.

 

I have bills to pay.

Hey, me too! Same goes for most people who are choosing a less conventional career path.

Sure, there are some people with trust funds or loaded spouses who can bankroll them while they get on their feet, but I gotta tell ya: I don't know who these people are. The people I know who are bravely pursuing work they love? They're just regular folks with rent, mortgages, kids, and student loans.

They make a plan and gradually transition into their new work so there's no abrupt financial changes. It takes some planning and some time, but no special magic, and no special circumstances.

 

I can't spend my life chasing sparkly unicorn dreams.

I wouldn't want you to. I don’t do sparkly, and I don’t do unicorns.

But I'd rather you not insult your own dreams like that. Framing your dearest dreams for yourself and how you want to help the world as trivial? As silly? That's not ok.

It's scary to give your dreams the respect they deserve. Dressing them up as a 3rd grader's Lisa Frank phantasm lets you off the hook. When you treat your dreams with dignity, not reaching them hurts more.

So does not going for them.

If we take your dreams seriously, then the statement above becomes, "I can't spend my life chasing dreams."

I can't spend my life chasing dreams.

Then what, exactly, do you plan to spend your life doing? You got a better offer?

I don't want you to spend your life just chasing dreams; I want you do spend it creating dreams. Big difference. A chase is haphazard and out of control. Creation is an awesome balance of control and improvisation. It's intentional. It's enlivening. It leaves room for the unexpected. It's what grown-ups who have bills and dreams do.

In the comments, get brave: tell me your dreams, and give them the respect they deserve.