Here’s a Quick Way to Repair your Dream Compass

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Catherine Hughes

Director of the 8 Women Dream Project at 8 Women Dream
Catherine’s dream is to make 8 Women Dream the premier online publication for women looking to pursue their dreams. She is a published author, a freelance writer, and a guide for those who want their dreams to come true online. Catherine would someday like to be invited to speak at TED about her observations about her 8WD project inviting women to take a chance on their dreams. Wine was required... Catherine posts on Sunday evenings and fills in dream stories as needed. If you aren't sure how to comment on this story, click here.

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Here’s a Quick Way to Repair your Dream Compass - How to find your joy

Last week, I took a break from talking about blogging your way to success online and shared a part of the 8WD e-book I wrote for women who find themselves struggling with finding their life’s passion.

I shared a Passion Test to help you lost dreaming souls out there to explore what once made you happy while you were growing up.

I walked you through looking at the first 12 years of your life for the play that resonated with your soul.  It’s everything from bicycling to skateboarding — to dancing and writing in a diary.  It’s whatever you loved getting lost in and hated giving up when you had to sit down for dinner or do your chores.

But for some of you the Passion Test process can bring up childhood traumas instead of blissful reminders of joy.

Readers have told me: “I don’t remember much of my childhood.  It wasn’t happy.” They choose to block the process of looking back at any part of their childhood.  It’s just too painful for them.  One reader had her favorite doll thrown away because a parent thought she was “too old to play with dolls.” It was a truly traumatic experience for her as she loved that doll with every fiber of her being.

It was a memory still holding her adult joy hostage and preventing her from finding her passion.

I can only imagine if an object that gave me precious joy as a child was abruptly removed from my life and disposed of as if it meant nothing.  Imagine after that experience how scary it would be to consider looking at what gives you joy from your childhood?  What if the same thing happens again–but in a different way now that you are an adult?

What if it’s even more painful this time?

Better to live a black-and-white existence than risk discovering a rainbow and have it destroyed by people you trust.

I have a theory about those of us on the dreamers journey later in life.  I believe that some type of trauma or heartache stopped us from our original dream journey.  Childhood play is so important.  Play is the exploration that assists us in building skills that take us successfully into our adult lives.

Play shapes what we love to do. Play is simmering passion.

I am sure you had “those friends” too who knew from the time they were 4-years-old exactly what they wanted to do with their life.  Then they went out and accomplished it.

Yeah. Bite them.

I would argue, however,  that they probably grew up in an environment that supported their play and their dreams.  No one told them, “Oh hush. That’s crazy!” or “Stop playing with that thing.  You are too old for that!” or “You need to do XYZ and forget about that silly XYZ.”

Their dream compass stayed intact–guiding them to the future of their dreams.

But when your playful joy gets interrupted because of dysfunction, trauma, or death (maybe even all three) your dream compass stops working and you lose your bearings.  You suddenly grow up–lost at the sea of life to forever search for the right passion port to rest your weary hearts.

But nothing ever seems to fit right.

We then pick futures to please our parents or partners, or we do the “responsible” path in an attempt to play it safe, or we make choices based on our need to get out of certain situations.  We feel like we don’t have control over the outcome of our lives. We feel powerless and stuck.

We are someone else’s puppet, except we don’t know who exactly is the puppet master.

One day, you wake up unable to continue to ignore the nagging, still, soft voice that whispers in your ear to do more of what you love. And the nagging has been growing louder and louder or some time–like storm waves crashing against the shore of your heart until you stop to search in frustration for a book, or a class or a site like 8 Women Dream to help you.

And you think:

“OK. NOW what am I supposed to do?”


You have to become your own private eye.  You have to let that little girl in you know that she is safe and that you are in charge. You tell her that you are going to take her on a little journey and ask her for her feedback.  Take her hand.

Your grand adventure, should you choose to take it is to explore the question:

What would it take to make you REALLY happy?


I want you to do this for at least a week–the longer the better–a month would be great.  But allow yourself plenty of time to collect as many answers as you can.  The more answers you get the more patterns will emerge.

Get yourself a dream notebook or use the Notes app on your phone and explore the following 8 questions  —

1. If I had to find you in a bookstore, what section would you be in and what would you be reading?

2. Write down the top 10 things you love to do –where time seems to disappear and you get lost in it. Make sure these items are not just something you are good at, but things that give you energy when you are done.

You can be good at something that totally drains you, and I don’t want you to confuse it with something you love doing. Only write down things you find that give you energy.  It doesn’t matter what it is.  It could even be driving to Starbucks Coffee in the morning–write it down.

3. Write down what makes you smile or laugh every single day.  A child says something funny to a parent and you overhear it and you smile — write it down! If you aren’t smiling or laughing then you need to go on an exploration through YouTube and look for what makes you smile and write that down.

4.  What movies do you love?  What TV shows do you always watch?  Write them down.

5. Buy 5 magazines that you would love to read or go to a bookstore and pick up your 5 favorite magazines (you can also do with with going to Amazon, or using the Internet).  What are they?  Why do you like them? Print out the photos you like or cut out the pictures that give you a siege of excitement.  If you are a guy – tear out the page… why bother with scissors. Write down why you like those images and place the images in your dream jar/box/bag.

6. What do you Love to eat?  Write down the foods that you enjoy, even if it is broccoli — write down every food that makes you smile and gives you energy and see if there is a pattern forming.  Is their a particular culture that you lean toward?

7. Ask your friends (who are positive) and any family (who are supportive) what they think you are good at–you  may be surprised at how many of them tell you the same thing. Do not ask anyone who has failed you in the past or crushed your hopes. Don’t even tell naysayers in your life that you are on this journey.  Protect your heart.

8. What is the pattern forming in your choices? (Adventure, freedom, organization, change, creating…?) Did they tell you something where the idea of doing it scares you?

Don’t push for your dream answer.  Think of this detective work as a “Joy Quest” and quests take time.  It’s a journey so don’t judge the process.  Look for the patterns in your choices, but don’t force it.  Suddenly one day you will have a flash of insight and memories will come flooding back to you featuring who you were before your dream compass stopped working.

You’ll remember what you’ve always loved doing.  It’s been there with you all of this time.  You’ll recognize it when you see it.  You’ll feel that childhood excitement mixed with a little fear and you’ll know right then that your dream compass has been fixed.

I promise. Because I’ve been there. Now go find out what gives you joy!


Give us your thoughts!