What Happens When Your Dreams Change Shape

I’ve noticed that our dreams aren’t always permanent things.

They can change.

Dreams changing shape or mutating into new things is good, not something that should make you nervous. I’ve heard people say with alarm, “But I used to want to do this thing with all my heart but I don’t know if I want that anymore.” It’s ok for your dreams to change if you are changing too. And it’s also worth noting why your dreams are changing.

Steve Harvey has a great book that tackles this idea called Act Like A Success, Think Like A Success. In it he talks about how to take your gift, the thing that you do naturally that no one else can with the greatness that you do, and use it to make your dreams come true. Harvey calls this your vehicle. Your gift needs a vehicle to take it to the next level, but you won’t always stay in the same vehicle to get to your end result.

Vehicles change. Dreams are the destination.

Here’s a little insight into my story and how my vehicles have changed a few times in the last few years, which was a little scary to me because they’d stayed the same for over a decade. I should have been cautious about the fact that I’d stayed at the same place doing a lot of the same things for so long. Instead, I was proud of the fact that most of my young adult friends were working on their 3rd or 4th job before turning 30 and I was still doing the same work I’d started when I was a teenager.

There is something to be said for commitment and longevity. But you have to look at the lifeblood too. I wasn’t stagnant in my job, but it also wasn’t fulfilling me in the ways that I wanted (and needed) to be fulfilled. Actually, I’d reached the ceiling on how far in the organization I was going to be allowed to go by age 29. And I knew it. But I didn’t do anything to try and improve my situation until faced with some startling realities and that forced me to move.

The fact that I had peaked in terms of how far I could grow in a company before turning 30 should have been alarming (in the ways described earlier) in my pursuit forward and should have led to a shifting in what my goals were. However, since I didn’t have clarity on my dreams, I couldn’t see that there was something really wrong with where I was and what I was investing my energies in.

I wanted to be a big success in the radio industry, but I didn’t want to be in the Pop-Radio space (think Top 40, Taylor Swift, Katie Perry, etc). I also didn’t want to move to a bigger city. So, in essence, I’d pigeon-holed my growth to have to be only where I already was. The dream itself needed to shift and the vehicle to get me to the real dream needed to change.

I worked at a public radio station that operated on a university campus with an all-student on-air staff, but a professional staff of 5 people who maintained the station’s revenues, operations, administration, marketing, and community connection. My role as Operations Director involved every aspect of the station some form or fashion (a bit in the fundraising and administration but not as much as the operations and community connection).

It was a leadership role that gave me a ton of experience in community building, organizational leadership, effective communication, teaching, networking, and management. But as I got into my 30s things around me started to change, meaning co-workers changed jobs and other factors, but I didn’t shift my outlook on the future. I didn’t have a direction.

What I enjoyed most was working one-on-one with college students as a mentor and leader. Teaching someone to talk on the radio takes time and patience. Teaching students how to ask questions that lead to other questions that lead to deeper questions when interviewing someone for a news story is what creates powerful radio. I really enjoyed that. Outside of the teaching of radio operations, I had a direct line into a many young people’s lives and had the opportunity to lead them in ways that went beyond working in the radio or journalism industry. I got to coach them on life stuff, like how to balance their budgets, what to look for in a job and career atmosphere, leadership development, and more. That was the best part of the work that I did, and the one thing I miss most from not being there.

I didn’t see it at the time but I do now. My dream wasn’t to work in radio, or be a big deal in the industry. The dream really was to work with individual people and lead them to bigger and greater things. Radio was the vehicle for that. The same is true for The Appetizer Radio Show. I created the show to be able to hear really great music on the radio instead of the same, boring 15 songs by the same boring 10 artists every day.

The music and media culture has shifted much since 2003 where now you can listen to the most obscure musicians online and on FM from a variety of channels. The dream for The Appetizer really wasn’t about doing something new or different. It was about making a difference in people’s lives and taking them to the next step in their journey, especially for the DIY/unsigned/indie musician. Everyone needs a platform that will give their work a start. The Appetizer Radio Show has been that platform for many artists who have gone on to bigger and greater successes.

It’s important to not confuse your vehicle with your dream, but it’s very easy to mistake one for the other. The key is looking deep within yourself and finding that gift that you have. The gift is the one thing you do naturally without bringing in education or training. It isn’t something someone taught you. It is something you were born with. What is it that people around you say you do naturally that is better than anyone else? That’s your gift.

If you don’t know what your gift is, ask some of your closest friends what they think. Then compare notes. I know that I’m naturally an Empoweror (made up word for “one who empowers”). My communications with people, whether online or in person, are done naturally and intentionally to lead to a positive result, even when I’m upset or holding someone accountable. Yet empowering and encouragement aren’t my gifts. They are a part of the gift, but not the whole enchilada.

My gift is that I’m a great listener who thinks objectively and puts pieces together to create a strong perspective and clarity. I can hear the stories people tell me and naturally connect the dots to what is really going on without knowing all the specifics. I’m good at reading people’s mail, as the saying goes. My natural inclination is to take that discernment and communicate in an edifying way that brings encouragement to the person I’m speaking with.  Positive results and outcomes are the results produced. This gift moves people forward, gives them clarity and direction, and takes them to new successes.

I see now how my gift has been used in the past careers I’ve had, yet none of the jobs or careers were the dream. The dream is bigger. What I think is my dream now is probably bigger in reality than what I imagine it is at this point. As I grow and increase the spread of who I am and become more recognizable, the dream will grow too, and the vehicles that take me there will change.

The same is true for you. The vehicle you’re in now to take you to your dream will morph, switch, change, or mutate. Some vehicles you’ll still interact with or catch a ride with periodically as you grow. Others you’ll never see again. The vehicle is what changes, but not the dream itself. The key it to really understand and have confidence in what the heart of your dream is so that you don’t confuse yourself and your direction like I did.

Do you know what your gift is? Can you recognize where you are right now as being a transport to get you closer to fulfilling your dream? How has your dream and your vehicle shifted or grown in the past year? These are the questions to reflect on to see how you’re progressing.

Since you know my gift, let me utilize to benefit you. Reach out to me and tell me your dream and the transport (vehicle) you’re in right now to get to your end goal. Leave a comment or Contact Me and let’s talk.

[feature image by Jeronimo Sanz]

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