Dreaming of Success? Wake Up!

Why most people end up with a nightmare.

Generally people don't meet with me (or any other business coach for that matter) because they are thrilled with every aspect of their life and career. Quite the opposite: they are searching, they are frustrated, and they can’t figure out how their dreams can be reached. In fact, no one ever gets to their dream because success is a process and not a destination. There is no finish line.

However, we all strive to find that “dream job,” that right fit that will match and challenge our skills, in an environment (culture) that our personalities can feel good in. Unfortunately, most of my clients view success in a results-based definition. For them, and perhaps for you, it IS the finish line, the seven-figure income or the big house.

What needs to happen between here and there, however, is a lot of work on who YOU are to determine a few things:

  • What do you like?
  • What do you tend to avoid?
  • What motivates you? What is your why?
  • What skills do you have?

It’s funny, but many people don’t spend enough time looking deeper into what makes them tick to answer these questions, or at least answer them quickly and confidently. Unfortunately, when I send someone off after a first meeting to think these things over, they don’t return. It’s either that they are afraid of the answers or they don’t really know, and they get discouraged.

I’m here to tell you, though, that the answers can bring you closer to success and more quickly, mainly because they help point you in the right direction.

So, let’s start with the first two: knowing what you like and what you don’t. Honestly, knowing what you don’t want often is more helpful as it rules out various avenues that would have been dead ends or disasters. And beyond naming a job, it’s the things that you value and place a priority on that will lead you to the right job.

For example, let’s say you value having a flexible schedule, one that will allow you to pause from what you’re doing to take your child to the doctor, or visit his or her school. While many employers say they honor family time, the real-world constraints of the position may make that an impossibility. In my life, that was the life in banking. I couldn’t make my own schedule because the bank was open only certain hours, and because I valued autonomy, I really hated it.

Write these things down, and compare them to jobs you have always been interested in. Then do a little research. Do they really match up? You may be disappointed if they don’t, but it will certainly save you a lot of frustration.

Next, consider what motivates you. When you wake up, what gives you energy to say, “I can’t wait to get started!” If this question has you stumped, it’s time to find your “why.” Of course, people want to make a lot of money, but why? What is it about that income that will give you a feeling of success. Money is a means to something else, so really focus on what your end game looks like.

Visioning like this is something that most successful people practice. It makes the current situation become a stepping stone to their goal. So, your why is what motivates you. When the alarm goes off in the morning, then, your eagerness isn’t fueled by the mid-level management job you are in, it’s the opportunity to use that position and earn the skills and knowledge to continue to move up. Eyes forward, always forward.

What skills do you have, and how will they play a part in getting into a satisfying career? Understand that it’s not just about the degree you have, or your previous job experience, but also the soft skills you have developed over the years. In fact, as we move toward automation and artificial intelligence, soft skills are going to become even more important to your success.

Read more on soft skills here!

Your ability to stay cool under pressure, your skill in connecting with and gaining the trust of people of various personality types, your confidence that brings teams to follow your lead — these are traits that can’t be taught from a book. So how do these skills, and those you have gone to school for, combine to earn you a position.

Answering all of these questions is where investing in assessments can help you. In fact, my clients often have “Aha!” moments where things written down in front of them are eye-opening, and areas of struggle make sense to them. Perhaps it’s having an objective, outside source giving the feedback that makes things clearer. Or, it could be that they haven’t been as inward-focused and the results reveal traits that they didn’t think they had, but after thought, they begin to see it for themselves.

So, yes, it’s work, but we need a healthy balance of it to fuel our dreams, even that perfect job. Dreams are something we all possess, and they can be good if we use them wisely. As John Maxwell put it, quite simply, “Dreams don’t work unless you do.”

So let’s get to work.