Time to chase dreams

Recently Eliza, a good friend, emailed me to ask what I thought she should do once she graduates in June. I know that several of my friends, and many of the students I work with, are in the same boat. They are clever and engaging people, but are left feeling directionless when it comes to entering the “real world.” I’d like to explain how I figured out what was right for me.

One year ago I was nearing the end of my undergraduate degree. Over the course of my education, I learned how to write political position papers, how to discuss my favorite existential thinkers, and even got a glimpse into the mechanics of the human brain. But I never learned how to get a job, let alone one that I would actually enjoy. In fact, my professors rarely mentioned life outside the classroom.

I knew that my political science degree and travel experience would enable me to work for an NGO, and that my training in public speaking and fundraising would help land a job with a company. But I couldn’t really see myself enjoying either of those things.

I was confused about what to do. I knew that I was (and am) passionate about studying globalization and public speaking (weird – I know), but it never occurred to me to link my passions to my profession.

My parent’s asked me a question that changed the direction of my thinking, and one that I think everyone should ask themselves: “If money were not an issue, what would you be doing?”

This is a phenomenally important question because whatever you decide to do after you graduate, you are going to be dedicating a lot of your waking life to it.

For me, the answer was giving speeches about globalization and international volunteer projects. Since no companies were hiring for this exact position, I took a risk. I invested all of my savings and took out a loan so I could start Changing the World 101. It’s been eight months, and though I’m not going to be putting a down payment on a mansion anytime soon, I have never been happier. That is because everyday when I “go to work” I am doing something that I truly love.

Instead of thinking about “how can I get a job out of college?” try thinking about what you really want to do with your life. Maybe you dream of moving to Austin and working on your short stories, or doing PR for a hip indie label – whatever it is that really excites you, now is the time to chase that dream.

Dedicate some time to reflecting on what you’re passionate about and what you really want to be doing. For many people, myself included, this actually takes a bit of figuring out. The trick is to really focus on it. Whether it be closing your eyes and vividly imaging your dream life, creating a vision board, or journaling in a coffee shop, spend some quality time thinking about your dreams.

If you are like the average grad, you have no one you need to support (besides yourself); your parents are not so old that you have to take care of them, and you do not have your own family to provide for.  You are free to pursue your dreams – you will have the rest of your life to get a “real job.”

So Eliza, you asked what I think you should do now that you’re about to enter the real world. I think you should dream big, and chase that dream. And if you don’t know what your dream is just yet, go alone to a quiet place and ask yourself, “If money were not an issue, what would I be doing?”

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2 COMMENTS ON THIS POST To “Time to chase dreams”

  1. dfield29 September 16, 2010 at 11:14 am

    I have recently been referred to you by one of my friends at Plymouth State University. I love the work you do here, I feel as though I am right in this boat, “being twenty-something” is the perfect way of putting it. I am in the Sports Management program at Springfield College in MA, and I am still trying to figure out my ambitions. I would love to work with an organization such as FIFA Football for Hope, or Grassroot Soccer, and travel while at the same time give back to someone and make a difference in peoples lives. My friend told me that she was inspired by your ability to explain how we can actually chase our dreams, and one of my biggest dreams is to hike the Appalachian Trail. I always wonder how am I ever going to do this, or fit it into my life schedule?

    • jasonconnell September 17, 2010 at 1:46 pm

      Thank you very much for the kind words – they are always appreciated. I have sent you an email at the account linked to your WordPress ID.

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