Updated: Jan 21
Since I was a little child, I have always needed to understand the big picture of life. I used to ask deep metaphysical questions to grown-ups. Sounds unreal? Ask my parents. By the time I was 5 years old, I would compel my olds to give me detailed answers on such topics as:
“Why are we here?”
“Why is there a moon?”
“What’s the strongest between a scorpion and a tarantula?” …
As I grew up, these very existential questions remained in me. To some degree. As much as I got some of my questions answered (I now have a better idea what the moon is about), or simply lost interest in finding out about some of them (scorpion vs tarantula, may the smartest win!), I have always kept one in mind: “Why are we here?”. Over the years, this question evolved into “what makes one truly feel alive?” and “shouldn’t everyone aim at making a living from their dream job?”
I read many articles and I watched a handful of TedTalks about what it takes to live from your dream job. Some argue that taking a leap of faith and listening to your heart is the best thing to do, because ...well… it feels good! Others warn against the disastrous results of mixing passion and work, or that aiming at living from your dream job is a naïve thing to do.
This whole host of arguments had left me somewhat perplex and without a clear answer. After a time of reflection though, it hit me. What better answer could I ever get than one coming from the only people that objectively reflect on the full meaning of their life, for the very reason that they are about to leave it behind them?
Going after your dreams is of utmost importance, according to the dying
I made some research and I came across an article referring to the main regrets of dying people. Bronnie Ware, a palliative nurse from Australia and author of the book “Regrets of the dying”, spent several years sharing the last three to twelve weeks of her patients. When questioned about any regrets they had about their life, several themes surfaced again and again, the main one being: I wish I had had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me.
She specifically writes: “Most people had not honored even a half of their dreams and had to die knowing that it was due to choices they had made, or not made.”
I finally had my answer.
Why aren’t more people living their dream job?
According to Simon Sinek (“Start with Why”), studies show that over 80 percent of Americans do not have their dream job. Let me emphasize this a little more… 80% of the US population will spend about 90,000 hours (about a third of their life), doing something that does not truly fulfill them.
One might ask: Why?
Why do so many people choose to perform a work that does not fulfill them? Having been there myself in previous years, I can summarize it in one word: fear.
The main proportion of the population runs in autopilot mode, driven by the narrative they have created about their life. This narrative is made of deeply embedded values, beliefs, memories, past decisions, metaprograms, and a bunch of other things that are in their heads, and conditions their vision of life.
They get a job when they are young, start adopting a lifestyle according to how much money they make, get a house, have children, spend most of their weekends and vacation time enjoying not being at work. Later, they grow in their functions, or change their jobs, and look for a position that requires fairly similar skills than the ones they grew in their previous role(s), relying on the high level of certainty they have built concerning their capacity to perform tasks they have been performing for years.
Seldom will they take the time to sit and ask themselves “Am I fulfilled in my life, or is there more to it? What do I FEEL would bring me the most joy in my life, and how can I make this happen?”
Seldom do they do it because fear stops them before.
Fear of change…
Fear of losing part of their current comfort...
Fear of not being able to pay the house…
Fear of not being skilled enough…
Fear of being criticized or ridiculed, should they ‘fail’ in their attempt to change their life…
But they also fear the act of sitting down and asking themselves the very question about what they feel would bring them the most joy.
Because we all fear how the answer to this question will make us feel.
Because deep down, we know the answer might not support our current narrative, or what we currently believe about our life and ourselves. Deep down, we know that the answer we will get contrasts with the narrative we have created for our life and threatens the core belief we have about ourselves.
You see, I have recently come to realize that all of the above-listed fears are simply rationalizations of our mind...because the mind does not like to let go of what it believes to be best for us. It does not want to let go, so to preserve us from hurt.
Whereas the heart’s main fear is regret, the mind’s main fear is rejection. And rejection takes many forms. At the personal level, it starts with questioning the legitimacy of the story we have been telling ourselves for so long.
What we fear most is realizing that the beliefs we have been holding to for so long in our mind are NOT aligned with the main desire of our heart… this same heart whose desire we have been shutting down for an equally long time. It can be years. Or decades. Sometimes more. And acknowledging that we have let our mind-driven narrative keeping us away from the real expression of our heart, hurts. Deeply.
Because the mind does not like pain, we would rather avoid reflecting on our dream job altogether: “Maybe my current narrative isn’t too bad after all, right? Maybe I am already living my dream job? Well… I am not FEELING so bad so I THINK I am probably living my dream job. I probably do not need to dig further on this matter. Let's better watch my favorite TV show on Netflix...”
Now, for those who do not have Netflix, or for those who believe there might be more to it than there currently is, and want to find out how you can change this, keep reading.
How can you get your dream job?
It is never too late to make a change in your life. Reframing how you perceive the narrative you have been holding on until this day, and how this narrative has helped you get where you are now - open to considering living the life you truly want - has been proven extremely empowering.
Start by taking some time to do what most people do not: ask yourself what you truly want. Some powerful tools are available online to help you see where your heart and strengths lie. I love the Ven diagram inspired by the IKIGAI philosophy. It is a tool that I have personally used with many of my clients, and it always brought them some very valuable insights about themselves. It is a good guide that offers a holistic view of your desires and skills, by having you answer 4 main questions: What do you love most, what do you think the world needs most, what you can be paid for, and what you are good at. This is an excellent starting point.
Then if you need more guidance, consulting a Life Coach can be extremely helpful. A good life coach can help you tremendously in unleashing your true potential and removing your mental barriers while guiding you in your career or business move, and eventually lead you to write a new, more empowered, and heartfelt narrative for your life.
And if you fear that you will lose the fair amount of success you have created to this point in time in your current professional life, by doing something that you were only partly motivated about… simply imagine how much success you will attract once you do something that you LOVE.
Do not let your life go by without giving your heart a chance. Nourish the desire of your heart. Then, when the moment comes for you to reflect on your life, you can proudly say that you had the courage to live one that was true to yourself.