I’m not saying that dreams can’t somehow be monetized, or that you can’t turn your life’s purpose into a career that supports you financially. Obviously many, many people have done just that. All I’m saying is that be careful not to limit your dreams to only include those that have something to do with charging people for your goods or services.
In Napoleon Hill’s classic book, “Think Rich, Grow Rich” he talks about the importance of having a “burning desire” as the first step toward manifesting whatever it is you want. During the time the book was written, the United States had just come out of the Great Depression, so it’s not surprising that the focus of the “burning desire” in his book had a lot to do with money. He says that above all else, you must have a singular focus about what it is you want and belief that you can achieve it. He says that you need not have education, status, money, looks, friends – in fact, he says that none of those things are prerequisites to obtaining riches beyond your wildest imagination.
When I read that, I realized that I’ve been going about the whole business of creating a life purpose backwards. I had been trying to figure out how to keep doing more of what I love by turning it into a job, but it wasn’t necessarily something I had a burning desire to do (turn hiking into a job). I already had a burning desire. That desire occupied my thoughts often. When I imagined it, I felt a sense of freedom and aliveness that was a beacon to my life today. This dream was the future life my husband and I are planning to have on our 6 acres of land in Ridgway, Colorado. We would be living much closer to the land, growing most of our own vegetables, raising chickens, going hiking and fishing more often in the proximity of Colorado’s most beautiful mountains. We would live in a small community, make great friends, enjoy interesting adventures in new places we would explore.
The only reason I didn’t consider this as my purpose was because I thought I would have to support the dream rather than the other way around. But that doesn’t have to be true. We are planning on selling our wares at the local famer’s markets in Ridgway and Telluride. I am still going to be doing what I do now, since I’ve been working from home for the last 18 years and can work anywhere. The point is, anything can happen, but trying to have it all planned out ahead of time is a dream killer. Who knows what opportunities will unfold in the new life we’re creating? So often life takes us down some interesting trails, ones we never planned on taking. I can’t possibly know every single thing that will happen in the next ten years, nor do I want to. I just have to trust that as long as I have the vision, the details will work themselves out. I’ve got to stop distracting myself with worries about finding the perfect outdoor, active, closer-to-nature way of living. I will already have it!
Consider what it is that occupies your thoughts. What is your burning desire? Do you love to run? Travel? Create art? What draws you, what whispers into your ear and calls you closer? Whenever I go hiking, I find myself longing desperately to stay in the mountains and woods, to experience the sights and smells and sounds of nature on a daily basis. My body and soul beg me to pay attention to this. It is a burning desire to experience these feelings of authenticity and freedom more often.
But it doesn’t have to be a job. We only revert to this way of thinking because our occupation takes up so much of our time. All I’m saying is that our burning desire can lead us to a life that’s worth living, regardless if it’s a job or just the way we live.