Have you ever thought to yourself, “Once I arrive at ____ stage in life, then I will finally be living out my purpose”? That stage of life may have already come for you, or maybe you are still waiting for that moment. Your whole life, you envisioned your purpose would be fulfilled through a desired career path. You’ve spent decades working towards that dream, and now that you are finally there, you don’t quite know what is next. This may lead us to reach for another life-altering event, only to arrive unsatisfied and disappointed that it didn’t bring true fulfillment. This reflects the way many in America view their career goals.
Dreaming Life Away
In an article by Kelli Mason, a Stanford Law student and Silicon Valley-based corporate attorney, some hard truths about these career goals were revealed. Her research found that only 1 in 10 Americans say they are working their dream job right now. Of those surveyed, 7 out of 10 say they don’t think they are on the right track towards that job. For many, dream jobs remain just that. Over half (53%) of Americans think their dreams don’t fit the current economy well. If advanced degrees are required for that dream job, 2 in 3 American professionals say they can’t afford the price of education.
With all these statistics, we see that dream jobs encompass a small portion of one’s lifetime and can require a difficult journey on the way there. The problem is that many individuals spend their lives chasing life beyond the life they are currently living and don’t find satisfaction or purpose in the journey along the way. They waste a large portion of the time they have left reaching for that goal and find it to be not everything they dreamed it to be. In her research, Mason also discovered that 51% of Americans are indifferent to or unhappy with their current roles.
The Not-So-Dreamy Destination
What if your dream job is not supposed to make you happy? At a young age, you were probably asked, “What do you want to be when you grow up?” That dream to become a lawyer and help defend people in court, like in the TV show you may have grown up watching, has a journey. It begins with the dream, then comes the planning, the college applications, and the crossing of fingers, hoping that you get into your dream law school. After seven years of studying, you finally receive a congratulations letter from your dream law firm, sharing that you’ve been selected for the job! You are ecstatic, of course. You can’t wait to begin. However, a year down the road, you probably aren’t jumping for joy as you walk into work to spend long hours studying at a desk to fight for justice. We know life isn’t meant to be this way, so you might be thinking, “Okay, what do I need to do next?” It’s not that you regret your career choice, but you may have discovered unmet expectations in the career that you fantasized about in your head for 15 years.
Be Where Your Feet Are
So, do we stop dreaming altogether? Dreams are a wonderful way to step into individual giftings and chase our goals. But it’s when we strive to be in a space we aren’t currently standing in that dreams dangerously begin to pull us out of the present. You don’t want to look back and regret that you put the last decade of life on pause until you reached that mountaintop moment. Life isn’t about a pin drop to your destination but about the miles in between. Wherever your feet are, there is purpose. The statistics above show us that the time we spend actually living out our dreams is for a small fraction of life. How sad would it be if we only find purpose once we arrived at our dream? There is joy in the journey if take a moment to look around and enjoy it. Chief Executive Officer of Merlin Entertainments, Scott O’Neil, said it best. He stated that the goal is making “the most of each moment and ridding ourselves of the toxic habit of constantly looking forward to the next thing. Be where your feet are.”