My friend just rolled her eyes at me. Even though we were on the phone, I could tell.
I had just made the suggestion that she could write her book—the thing she said she’s always wanted to do—on the side. Nights and weekends.
She pushed back at my suggestion, and I understood why. Her life’s busy enough as it was, with her regular job and a full life with the husband and a 10-year old daughter.
Where in the world would she find time for things that weren’t on the priority list already?
Life IS busy.
We have plenty of obligations and expectations to meet. There’s barely enough time to finish the stuff on our loonng to-do list, let alone find time to work on our long-term goals or chase our dreams.
That’s why the dream always gets deferred.
It’ll just have to wait until we have more time. One day, someday.
After we’ve paid off our debts. After the kids are out of school and on their own. After the promotion. After we get the house in the suburbs. (Or after we sell the house in the suburbs and get another one.) After we settle down with our perfect person. After our 401K reaches a certain balance.
After. After. After.
How often have you “after’ed” your dream career?
Finding any bit of time in our current busy lives to work on our long-term goals or dream career is a tough sell.
That’s why all too often, dream chasing is relegated to daydreaming. Any real action is postponed until some undetermined time in the future when we think we’ll have a more time to spare.
I can relate to this 100%. At the height of my workaholic mania, I wasn’t able to give time or attention to anything else but the work in front of me. Whatever dreams I had were squashed, stored away indefinitely, in favor of what I accepted to be the obligations and requirements of my real life.
My real life was more important than the idea of some future dream life.
The thing I learned the hard way is this: The life I’ve envisioned and dreamt about is never going to have a chance of happening unless I find time to work on it today.
Hard as it may be, the only way to make your dream come true—if it’s truly important to you—is to make space for it in your current life.
Three Ways to Find Time for Your Dream Career
If I could go back, here are three things I’d tell myself about how I might find time to work on my dream:
1. Clean your plate.
Unless you’ve been living a minimalist life, your plate is likely filled with clutter or stuff that no longer suits.
Identify the clutter and learn to walk away. Walk away from things that are broken and that you have no intention of fixing. Walk away from things that no longer feed your spirit, your drive, that fire in your belly. Walk away from relationships (personal, work, social) that no longer sustain. Walk away from people who deplete you and constantly suck away your energy and positive spirit.
Each time you walk away, you’ll find new breathing space. Aaahhh.
2. Then, be mindful of any new thing that you add to your plate.
Be selective of the things you say “yes” to. Realize that every yes is some kind of commitment, a promise to perform, or give your time away to something. Make sure that you give it to people, events, and things that truly matter to you
Your two most scarce resources are your time and your energy. Once you’ve given those away, there’s no getting them back.
Every day—today, now—you can choose to do something that moves you closer to your dream.
3. And, give yourself permission to NOT finish everything on your plate.
Let go of the idea that you have to complete everything that you started. Be okay with the idea of quitting things that aren’t going to work or aren’t serving its purpose.
Related to that, let go of the idea that you have to do everything, and perfectly.
Release the quest for perfectionism. There’s nothing exciting about it.
You don’t have to do it all. You can delegate. You can share it with others. Find the tasks you can hire someone to do, instead of doing it all yourself.
Most of the time, “good enough” is good enough. Imagine the time you’ll gain by letting go of perfection.
The reality is nobody has spare time just waiting to be used. We all have full calendars and all of us will need to work on creating the space to be able to think, explore, and work on our future.
The only way to make our dream career come true is to make time to work on it today.