The American Daydream

the american daydream

I recently talked with a lady who was let go from her job. She made a statement that really made me think.

She said…

“After hearing the news (of our department being outsourced) I thought, ‘If only I could have made it a few more years with this company, I would have been able to retire. But you know what…..soon after I thought that, it dawned on me that I was actually just wishing my life away……'”

Basically she was wishing to bypass the years that stood between now and her retirement age.

The American Dream

It has long been the American Dream to work the same steady job for 40 years and then retire into a life of ease and comfort.

Work hard now so that one day you can finally live.

While thankfully there is a new generation who sees the problem with this, it nevertheless remains in our thinking subconsciously. Instead of ditching the theory completely, we’ve just poorly tweaked it so that we are now pursuing jobs and degrees that we think are neat, but are not in demand.

Now no one can find a job…..so any job will do.

And we all know: ‘Any job will do’ = I hate my job.

Unhappy America

Studies show that only 53% of Americans actively enjoy their jobs. While that is not the lowest worldwide, America does have the highest percentage of those who actively dislike their jobs at 15%.

I look around and see people unhappy in their work, unhappy with their pay, and in a career that has nothing to do with their passion or their skills. They are very intelligent and creative but have no outlet by which to express.

Now while I am not a “pursue your passion only” kind of guy (as we all have bills to pay and people to support), I do think that working a job you hate is a huge life waster, specifically because you spend such a large chunk of your life doing it.

One of the reasons we reluctantly continue in the same job is that we want instant results. We want to change careers and we want it to happen now. Since it doesn’t happen now we lose the momentum and keep reporting to the same job day after day and before we know it our life has passed us by.

Growth By Stages

I read an article the other day by Benjamin Hardy. While I disagree with his worldview, for the most part it was a very thought-provoking article.

To summarize, your life journey is full of stages. You start each journey a novice, a babe, and you grow in this stage until you have become proficient. You don’t stop at this point. Many of us do and ultimately stop growing. Instead, the next stage will present itself and you have to step out as a novice once again, into the next stage and grow into proficiency.

We continue to steadily grow and mature in our lives, approaching each stage more mature overall, but a babe at the outset of each.

The point is that we can’t be afraid to begin the next stage, the next journey just because we do not feel prepared. It is this progression that keeps us growing, keeps us innovative and stimulated.

With this in mind, I believe you and I need to approach our career, our calling, our lives in what I like to simply label two realities: A Short Term and a Long Term. One is inevitable but should at some point progress to the other.

Short Term Reality

Many of us live in the short term because we want things immediately. If we do not get it immediately then we take a step back instead of advancing to the next stage, and stay a master at our own regression.

So what is this short term reality?

This short term reality in summary is that we need to pay the bills. We need to support our families and be able to function in life. This is where most of us stay. We come to our senses at 70 and realize that we could have had a much more fulfilling and exciting life.

You either advance from this short term stage or you stay in this cycle of stagnancy.

It is in this short term reality that we must be preparing for the long term.

Long Term Reality

This is preparing to shift into that career, that life, that calling which makes you more fulfilled and stimulated. This is the life that gets you excited. This is that step that you are scared to take, the step that makes you feel inadequate (though you almost always are not).

So do this now. Take a pencil and journal over these three questions:

  1. What things are you good at? What do you find yourself always helping people with? What do you find easy to do? List many.
  2. Where are your passions? What things excite you? List many.
  3. From the above, where is there a job demand? Can you combine some of the above that are similar. Are there businesses in your area demanding this? Is there a market for it in which you can start it up yourself? Is there a position overseas for you to serve?

Now it is at this point we lose focus. Why? Because we want it now.

Well, it will not happen now. It takes time to implement it.

How about you give yourself a year. Get some training. Prepare well. Dream big. Progress.

What do you want to do with your life? It isn’t too late…..just prepare to take that step. Don’t hold back. Don’t have any regrets.

Do that work, which when you look back on your life, will give you satisfaction.

Give yourself a year and prepare.

Stay focused.

Do it.

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