A few years ago I met an inspiring guy named Matthew Kelly. He was almost half my age, and I asked him, “Matthew, how did you get so wise, so young?” Not surprisingly he didn’t quite know how to answer that. He’s spoken to millions of people, written a handful of books and done a lot of good in his life so far. (I think he may be almost 40 now, and just had his first child a couple of years ago, after surviving a bout with cancer.)
I spent all that time on the introduction, because one of Matthew’s greatest messages has to do with dreams. His books, The Rhythm of Life and Perfectly Yourself are about being the best version of yourself. His book The Dream Manager is about dreaming what you want to be, what you want to do and then figuring out how to fulfill those dreams. The book is set in an imaginary company, which eventually hires a “dream manager” to help its employees fulfill their dreams. (Matthew’s books are available on amazon.com or on Matthew’s website.)
One of the things Matthew encourages people to do is to write a list of their dreams. He tells you to set a target of 100 dreams. It’s not easy. They don’t have to be big dreams—small ones will do. They can be of all different kinds: Personal, professional, family, fun, etc. The important takeaway for me was that we seldom stop to really concentrate on what we dream of happening.
I get calls from people who have lost their jobs and need help finding a new one. The first thing they need help with is propping up their self-esteem. I ask them if they lost any body parts or brain cells in the process of losing their jobs. (No, of course not—usually.) Then I tell them they have a wonderful opportunity. They get to decide what they want to do for the rest of their lives and how they can get started on it.
I encourage them to consider what they have done, but especially to think about what they are good at and what they love to do—and concentrate on those latter two points. I ask them to imagine the perfect new job, in the perfect company, and the perfect location and tell me what that would be. I remind them to "shoot at the middle of the target. Even if you miss, it might be something pretty close.”
To do that, they have to think about what the center of their target might be. Do you know yours? Is it what you are doing now? (Don’t go out and quit your job, jobs are hard to find these days!) But too often I am reminded of something Stephen Covey said when I was in that kind of situation. “We spend so much time climbing the ladder of success, we don’t stop to see if it’s against the right wall.”
Thus, my appeal to you is to dream big. Think about what you’d really love to be doing and consider how you can get from where you are to where you want to be. Some might call this the impossible dream. I call it planning ahead to be prepared when the opportunity presents itself. You might find that it just takes a little education, preparation, networking and one day, when you least expect it, voila—the job jumps up and is right in front of you. Or maybe it isn’t even exactly a job, but a vocation, a life’s work or a golden opportunity.
Once while vacationing at Disney’s Epcot I saw a sign, which said, "If you can dream it, you can do it.” And I am here to tell you that sign was closer to right than you know. What is your impossible dream? Will you be ready if it comes along?