Myth: Your Dream Will Look Exactly As Planned

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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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Dream Will Turn Out Exactly As Planned

Have you ever noticed how kids deal with doing something they love? When my son was 4, he watched The Land Before Time 1,000 times – minimum – and I am not kidding. He liked to watch it 3 times in a row before he was done with it for the afternoon – E V E R Y single day.

I thought I was going to kill myself when I could quote conversations from the movie .

Often The Land Before Time was just background noise while my son played with his cars (another obsession). He’d still mouth the dinosaur dialog because he had memorized the movie. This is how children approach the things they love – they do them over, and over, and over again until they become masters at it. This thing they love to do becomes their obsession.

And the parents want to kill themselves.

Think about it, if your kid loves skateboarding, there is probably skateboarding posters in his (or her) room, skateboarding photos on his phone or computer, skateboarding shoes, t-shirts and hats. They probably watch nothing but skateboarding videos on YouTube. They most likely cut out pictures of boards they like from magazines and put them on their wall as a goal to achieve.

This doesn’t begin to cover all the hours they will spend practicing. There is no doubt in their mind that they are going to be good at skateboarding. They become obsessed with everything having to do with skateboards.

This is how you know you’ve nailed your dream. When you behave exactly how kids behave over something they love to do over and over. You know you are on the right dream track when you’ve worked on your dream to the point of being sick of it.

But what if you aren’t sure what your dream is?

Figuring out your dream . . .

The first workbook I wrote for 8 Women Dream is Find Your Dream. It is about figuring out what it is that you love doing. I break it down by exploring in-depth what you love to do through worksheets and exercises. I end the workbook with the advice that you must play with this knowledge for a while.

The reason I advise people to sit with their dream idea is because it needs to become an obsession. If it doesn’t become an obsession – it’s not the right dream. Sometimes what you think your dream is ends up being something completely different. This is because your reason for choosing your dream is derived from ego-based wants instead of what you actually love doing.

Choosing a dream based solely upon what you are good at – does not necessarily make it your dream either. You might be good at doing many things, but this doesn’t mean you will love doing them to the point of obsession.

Think about how kids do it. Kids love money. They love money because it funds their obsessions, but their dream is not the money – it’s whatever is the obsession. If you pick your dream because of the money you will make, the status it will bring, or the people you will know – then it is not the right dream for you.

And you will end up hating it.

Finding your dream and doing what you love requires that you actually look very hard at what it is you love doing. Sometimes it’s not clear at first, especially if you have been doing things out of a sense of obligation – or just for the money.

Looking for the clues . .

For example, it wasn’t until very recently I realized that I absolutely love re-arranging and organizing. I have always known that I love arranging household furnishings (and my garden) but I never thought how this love is showing up in other areas of my life.

My very first job was in a pizza parlor. After my first week I realized the way they made pizzas was frustrating to me. It seemed like we were always reaching over each other for pizza toppings. I decided on my own to move the toppings to match what was really happening, and TA DA no more reaching over each other. As an added benefit, production improved and I got my very first raise.

Years later at a different job, I noticed where the printer was located was causing legal doc drawers unnecessary stress and time, so I decided to ask for the printer to be moved right where they were. It seemed no one had thought of this before me. And guess what? Production improved yet again.

If I think about it enough, this “organizational flow” and “clean-up” passion have been a part of every job I have ever enjoyed. I recently realized that I am always thinking, “how can we do this better?” I also realized that I flourish in jobs where I am free to make these improvements with out having to check with anyone first.

This past weekend, when I was editing and rearranging data on the 8 Women Dream website it struck me how much I love tweaking things online to make them better. I began to see where this shows up in areas of my life where I am the most content. It stands to reason that I love blogging, editing and managing websites – the work involved matches my skill set – a skill set that I love.

Another passion in my life is in Public Speaking. Why? My entire life I have been a story teller, from the moment when I was 3 years old and I stood on the fireplace with an American Flag and made my grandmother watch while I “performed” the Pledge of Allegiance. I loved performing and telling stories, so it would only be natural that I love training and Toastmasters – two things which encompass what I love.

And the best relationships I have had? They were the ones where the men always wanted me to tell them a story. If they wanted me to tell them a story while organizing the house – then I was in pure bliss.

Do you see how the information your receive based on where you find your bliss in everyday life can give you the very clues you need to find your dream?

Looking at our obsessions . . .

When planning your dream life, the question to ask yourself: is this an obsession of mine? Is being an editor and blogger, along with public speaking something I love to live and breathe day in and day out for years to come?

I can honestly answer yes.

But it has taken me years to align my natural talents with something I love. For many of us we spend too much of our lives thinking about what we don’t want and how to avoid it, verses what we do want and how to get it.

Think about that for a moment.

An example might be:

“I don’t like being poor so I am going to become a dentist because they make good money. My grades will get me into dental school.”

So to avoid being poor, this person becomes a dentist. He does end up avoiding being poor, but he doesn’t understand why he feels unhappy, unfulfilled and resents his more challenging patients.

Whereas someone on their dream path will look at the same situation this way:

“I am fascinated by teeth. I am always looking at teeth. Whenever I go to the dentist office I want to hold all the instruments and watch what they are doing. When I played as a child I was always the dentist. I love seeing beautiful smiles and making people happy with their looks.”

There is no thought of the money involved. When this person becomes a dentist, he is blissfully happy and fulfilled – and he loves all his patients – even the challenging ones.

The difference is always in the looking at the things you love and are obsessed with migrating in a direction that allows you to fully utilize your gifts and natural talents.

The waiting game. . .

Sometimes it takes years to realize what it is you love. Blogging didn’t exist when I was going to school – neither did opportunities in technology. I had these talents, but no place to express them. I went ahead and migrated towards what I loved doing, and as technology advanced and appeared in my life, I was able to blend what I ultimately love with a career, but my dreams don’t look anything like I thought – or planned.

Because sometimes you don’t see the obsession right in front of you until your realize you’d rather be [fill in blank] than going to a party, visiting someone, or watching TV. This is how technology is for me, and it’s the way blogging is for me, and it’s the way editing is for me – regardless of the money involved.

And that’s the really exciting part of dreaming . . . it’s behaving just like my son did with The Land Before Time.

Life is a series of natural and spontaneous changes. Don’t resist them – that only creates sorrow. Let reality be reality. Let things flow naturally forward in whatever way they like. ~Lao-Tzu

Keep on dreaming –


  • Terry

    Great post Cath

  • Remy, Photographer & CEO of Cornerstone Creative

    Chomper! i wanted to kill myself too. But now, every once in a while, we have a fun time remembering the songs.Im getting ready to write my goal posts! I Love sports! xoxo Rem