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Dreams Come True: What We Learned (part 1)

I recently shared with you the stories of people who found their way to a career that’s perfect for them. (If you’re new here, you can catch up with their Dreams Come True stories on my blog.)

They love what they do and are accomplished in their niche. Some of them are famous and some you probably hadn’t heard of before reading about them here. But it’s not their level of fame that I’m interested in. It’s how they got to where they are. It’s how they found the thing that lights them up and excites them to keep doing something they love.

Now that we know their stories, the next step is asking: what did we learn?

Because if you’re looking at your life and wondering how you can find your thing – the thing that lights you up – you can learn from the stories I shared. It’s not the specifics of their careers that are important – you don’t have to follow in their exact footsteps and write zombie books or rescue old cruise ships in order to learn from their experiences.

And even if you’re not looking for a new career – but you want more pleasure in your life and want to spend more time doing things you actually enjoy – these lessons apply. They’re all about how you authentically discover the way of living that’s right just for you.

So let’s dive in to the lessons you can take away and apply in your own life.

It’s not a straight path to success

It’s easy to look at people who’ve become accomplished and assume that success came easily and quickly. When we learn about people like them, it’s usually because they’ve reached a level of success that gets them noticed.

What we miss is all that happened before the acclaim – the time and effort they spent going in different directions, trying things that didn’t work out. It’s not that they were doing something wrong; these were the twists and turns of their individual paths.

From the Dreams Come True series: Max Brooks wrote scripts, did cartoon voiceovers and landed a writing position on Saturday Night Live before he published his first zombie book. Peter Knego worked in the music promotion business before he made a career of salvaging cruise ships. Ina Garten worked in the White House before she purchased a specialty food store. Carl Tanner was a truck driver and a bounty hunter before he pursued singing as a career.

(Bonus example: Just today I listened to an interview with Keven Fitzgerald, a veterinarian who appeared in the Animal Planet reality show “Emergency Vets”. Before he became a vet, he was a rock & roll roadie and bouncer who toured with the Rolling Stones. He enrolled in veterinary school after Stones guitarist Keith Richards urged him to get on with his life.)

Just because you haven’t found your thing yet doesn’t mean you won’t get there. Where you are is just a step along the way. Keep going, keep experimenting, keep trying new things.

The thing you think makes you “weird” is the thing that sets you apart

When we’re young, the urge to fit in is so terribly strong that we often try to hide the parts of us that make us unique because we’re afraid of being mocked or shunned. The habit of hiding yourself becomes so ingrained that you don’t even realize how much you’ve buried the parts of yourself that you labeled as “weird”.

Well guess what? It’s time to let your freak flag fly!

From the Dreams Come True series: Max Brooks found success when he embraced his passion for zombies. Jade Walker discovered her ideal lifestyle when she acknowledged how much she hates daytime and works best at night.

The part of you that you’ve held back, minimized or maybe even dislike could be the key to unlocking your genius and joy. No more hiding! Be real, be you.

Connect with your innate interests

What did you love to do as a kid? Look to your past for clues. When we’re young we tend to play more freely. As adults, we get bogged down under the weight of “shoulds” and “musts” and lose touch with the natural talents and gifts that brought us joy.

From the Dreams Come True series: Peter Knego was fascinated by the great mid-century ocean liners when he was young. Carl Tanner was belting out songs in the shower as a teenager, long before he became an opera singer.

What can you rediscover from looking back at your favorite activities, classes, projects and imaginative play of your youth?

These lessons offer new ways to think about where you are in your life, and the possibilities that lay ahead. It’s never too late to try something new. The raw fuel for transforming your life is inside you, waiting for you to tune in. You can always start from where you at any time and take steps to move your life in a new direction.

Stay tuned for more lessons from the Dreams Come True series in my next post!

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