Lately, I have been hearing from a lot of people at how frustrated they are because they do not know what they are doing with their lives. “How do I figure out what I want to do with my life?” they ask me. Understandably, many people flounder when they do not know what it is that they are working towards. It often feels too hard and people get stuck along the way, even giving up and saying that there is no use in trying. No wonder so many people feel an underlying malaise with their lack of fulfillment.
I have a short answer: have a dream…or have faith that you will find your dream.
What do I mean?
People with a vision of what they want to accomplish in life are fortunate because that dream can serve as a magnet. It is a matter of translating the dream into a long-term goal and breaking down the goal into manageable and workable pieces. I call this “top-down” goal setting because you can see the endpoint and your job is to make it happen. Yes it is work and having a magnet like a vision makes it easier to set goals and milestones. The trick is then to overcome the obstacles that get in the way of achieving the dream.
Sometimes, it is a matter of seeing your dream and setting an intention around it. The most powerful intentions are written in the present tense with a due date. You do this by setting your intention for that dream. All you do is pick a period of time down the road and state what you are dong in that future time. The trick is to write this in the present tense, as though you were already doing it:
In ____years, I am a ________doing___________.
Set this down in writing and be sure to date your entry.
Congratulations! You have just announced your intention to the world. That is step one in making that dream a reality!
Why does setting an intention work? Because if you are able to visualize what it is that you want to do and capture that thought in writing, you are likely to seize the opportunities that will make that dream a reality. That is why I encourage you to articulate your dream. If you can see it, write it down as if you were already doing it. Then look for ways to make that dream a reality. You will be amazed at the results.
For an example of how setting an intention helped me in my career journey, read my recent blog post!
In some cases, the dream is there and you realize that you need more experience or some new skills in order to make that dream a reality. With your dream in mind, you fill in those gaps, knowing that you are working towards your end goal. You can help yourself along by setting interim goals that feed into that long-term dream. For example, if your dream is to run your own business and you realize that you need to pick up some additional business skills, you can enroll in a business course or work for someone else and learn those skills on the job. Completing the course or gaining that valuable on-the-job experience in order to learn new skills become the interim goals that will propel you forward.
To get an idea of how this works in practice, click here.
So if you are the person that has a vision of your success in mind, set your intention and then figure out how to get there. Be sure to look at what gaps may exist between where you are now and where you long to be. If you need more experience, if you need to learn something new, if you need more support, know that you are working towards making your dream a reality. Enjoy your journey!
© Astrid Baumgardner 2011
I would be delighted if you should wish to reprint (for free) any part of this article in your newsletters, blogs, websites, and message boards. Please include the following attribution:
Astrid Baumgardner, JD, PCC is a professional life coach and lawyer, Coordinator of Career Strategies and Lecturer at the Yale School of Music and the founder and President of Astrid Baumgardner Coaching + Training, which is dedicated to helping musicians, lawyers and creative professionals take charge of their lives and experience authentic success. In addition to her work at YSM and her individual coaching practice, Astrid presents workshops at leading conservatories and law firms on topics including Career Planning, Goal-Setting, Time Management, Dynamic Communication, Conflict Management and Personal Branding and Networking. She is the author of numerous articles on the various aspects of how to achieve and live authentic success.