In 1996, I was in my mid-20s and working in an office in downtown Washington, DC. My assistant was recently married to a Greek man and she described her wedding in Greece. In my mind, it looked like a scene straight out of the movie Mamma Mia!
I also remember that was the moment I began to dream about living and working overseas, preferably in a picture-perfect Mediterranean setting! Hey, as long as I was dreaming, I might as well choose what I wanted!
My dream could have easily been filed away in a filing cabinet right there.
As fate would have it, my non-profit organization’s government contract was re-bid and my whole office was scheduled to shut down within the year. So, I asked myself the question, do I continue doing similar work somewhere else in Washington, DC or do I pursue the dream?
The safety plan vs. the magic carpet ride.
I put some feelers out there to organizations like mine that were hiring people like me, but the work didn’t excite me, not compared to The Dream. I started to think more seriously about how to make the dream happen – how to get a legitimate job in a foreign country and move there.
Compared with the somber “going out of business” mood in my office, the pursuit of The Dream was exciting! I talked it up with people in my field of international education and with friends. I read books in the library (as it was in the early days of the internet.)
When I was served my pink slip and finally let go from my organization, I had already registered for an intense 4-week certification to teach English as a Foreign Language class to begin a week after my last day at the office.
From there, I was hired to teach English as a Foreign Language to adults in Izmir, Turkey (on the Aegean, not the Mediterranean Sea!)
I lived and worked in Turkey for two years and it was one of the best experiences of my life! Imagine though what would have happened if I’d never given myself permission to dream and really entertain all the possibilities the dream held?
I could easily have shut the whole thing down with a string of blocks, barriers and “I can’t’s.”
I ask you, what would happen if you lean into the dream and think about all that it holds?
Sure, for me it was…
• Scary to leave the people and place I knew and go somewhere I didn’t
• A pain to figure out what to do with my stuff and home to move overseas
• Scary to change careers
• Frightening to live in a foreign culture with a foreign language
• It was do-able, not impossible!
• IT WAS EXCITING!!!
I dreamed, I survived and I thrived. I have memories of a lifetime and tapped into courage I never even knew I had! I knew zero about Turkey before I moved there, and I still love the country and culture so much! I would never have known any of this if I’d ignored my dream and opted for the safety plan.
SO, I know our dreams are probably wildly different, but what I’m asking you to do is:
1. Give yourself permission to dream.
2. Entertain ALL of the possibilities.
3. See where those possibilities take you without judging them. Tune out that inner-critic (or real critics) who call your dream any of the following: CRAZY, STUPID, ILL-ADVISED, IMPOSSIBLE, IMPRACTICAL or fill-in-the-blank with your own negative word.
4. Don’t worry what other people will think. They might, or might not, say some of the things mentioned in #3. They might also wish they had the courage to do the same.
All too often, I have heard people say: “I would love to do __________, but I can’t.”
Really? Why not?
As Blondie says, dreaming is free. Start there and see where it takes you.