It isn’t always easy to follow your dreams. To step outside of what society says we should do or be and change our life to what we have always dreamed it could be. It is harder than sticking to your current plan, the things you have always done, and the routine that is your life.
But if you move outside of your comfort zone to go after the life you have always desired, you could find life far more rewarding.
Most of us were brought up to think we need to stick to the plan, and walk the path laid out before us from our earlier choices. What if that path doesn’t make you happy anymore, and your dreams are calling you? Stepping away from your familiar path is a hard decision to make on your way towards happiness, but very fulfilling.
There are always bumps on the road pursuing happiness. If at the first bump we turned around, we wouldn’t have even made it onto the tarmac! Imagine all my family would have missed out on if we gave up at the first glitch. Whatever your dream, my advice is to at least try and make it a reality.
Obstacles will always present themselves and it is funny how we remember the difficulties after we get through them and recall them with such pride. They make the best stories.
When we arrived in southern France they were in the middle of the worst rain storms they had had in over 20 years. The road outside our window resembled a fast rushing river, strong enough to wash away small animals, and we wondered, ‘What the hell are we doing here?!’ But we stuck to our dream, as we had faith in them.
Last winter in the Languedoc-Roussillon, we had unusual weather and the lows reached -10. We had no winter clothes with us, and my father shipped them to us as soon as he possibly could. The heating in our rental wasn’t central and being expensive electric heating, we couldn’t blast it, so we tried to conserve. We nearly froze our butts off that first winter, but we did not give up, we trucked forward! Again we wondered, ‘OMG was this the right decision?!’ We decided to kept our eye on the prize, we knew if we could get through some difficulties, in the end we would be truly happy.
After a few setbacks, sticking to the original dream was very difficult. I kept thinking we could easily go back home to Canada and pick up the life where we left off a year before. Everything would go back to the familiar and we could live happily ever after without ever experiencing difficult change again.
However, even if we did go back, things would never be the same. Our family has changed and grown, and so did we. How could we not? We had been travelling, learning and growing as individuals from the second we left the routine of back home.
Never giving up is the key to success. You never know how close you are to success if you throw in the towel. And looking back we were a whole lot closer to success then we thought. I am truly grateful we stuck it out when it got tough, because the rewards of living as an expat in southern France outweighed any negative moments. We were exposed to experiences that changed who we are to the core of our beings forever. Not to mention the kids were raised in the rich French culture, and grew up with values very different than in North America.
Long before our decision to move away, came business ventures, and trying to make a living strictly based on the amount of our paycheck. We bought into the idea of what society said we should do. We had the big house, the new cars, the trips, the restaurant dinners, but it didn’t make us happier.
I am not knocking the people that find happiness in this lifestyle, and for some- that is the dream. Just for our family, happiness comes in a different shaped box or better yet, outside the box all together. We craved adventure, exposure to European basic family values, time together, simple foods and festivals. It was the richness of these deep rooted traditions that we learned from, and we enjoyed the surroundings we planted ourselves in.
When I was young, we went to post secondary school into a field we think we may like. To try to figure out what career would be a good fit to our personality weighs heavily on most eighteen-year-old kids freshly out of high school with little worldly experience. Once decided, we go through our university courses, college degree or work training and after the money is spent or the loans taken out, the embarrassment of admitting it isn’t the right fit, keeps most people stuck in a field they are not necessarily passionate about. While expenses build and interest on loans mount, we are bound to a job that doesn’t necessarily work. You think, I made my decision and will stick it out. From there you try to climb the proverbially ladder and make the best of it.
Rarely, but sometimes you hear the story of a successful lawyer turned painter in France. Or a doctor turned fictional writer in Europe. These are the biggest success stories based on happiness, as they following their true passions. If we all chased the dollar, won’t we all be working on Wall Street? Surely not everyone would be passionate about their career choice based solely on income.
I am sure it goes the other way too. I have a friend who went back to school at forty-something to become a nurse, and another one becoming a lawyer just from sheer interest and becomes successful at it. In all the scenarios finding your true passion is the key to happiness
What do you want to do when you grow up?
I am 38 and hope my interests and my ability to find happiness as my dreams grow and change, stay with me forever. And once I reach a dream, I usually start dreaming a new. I like reaching new levels. It satisfies something deep inside me to constantly try to find ways to learn about this world.
At 18 I wanted to be a singer, a writer, or a fitness instructor. My interests were not much different than what they are today. I still get the same satisfaction learning a new song at choir or learning a new routine at the gym. And writing for me gives me my biggest source of joy.
Maybe it was society, family or friends saying those dreams of singing in a band, becoming a fitness instructor, or even writing didn’t seem likely income earners. These dreams never reached fruition in my youth because I had no support. so I put them to bed, convinced I had to go for a job that produced a steady income stream.
My aptitude would have suggested a more courageous choice, even a giant leap of faith. If I had taken my own advice then and followed my passions, would everything have fallen into place earlier? If you make less money but love what you do, shouldn’t our happiness weigh in to the equation? I would say yes.
I wasn’t unhappy at my job of twenty years, but if I were truly honest with myself I was merely trying to be happy. I found little things that made my days easier, like talking to my favourite customers, making special lunches I could enjoy on my thirty-minute lunch breaks. I tried to bond with other staff members and genuinely become interested in their lives, and always asked what they were up to. I also tried to do the best job I could. I took any courses my work offered the staff; from first aid to manager training courses and it did help with the overall satisfaction with the day to day work requirements. I was trained in nearly every department, from bakery, customer service desk, floral department, postal department and grocery. Being good at something gives you a feeling of accomplishment. There is honour in work, yet the passion wasn’t there.
Even with all the little things, I felt that work was becoming a chore. When I was going through training courses my mind was engaged, I was learning new things, and I really liked it. I didn’t mind the drive in to work from White Rock to Vancouver, with my music blasting from my little red convertible. People looking into my life saw a happy person, however inside was a different story. I craved a more rewarding life, one based on my interests.
My adventurous nature and my natural instincts told me that my life was ticking by, and I couldn’t stand behind the cue any longer.
What are your dreams telling you? Travel? Go back to school? Change your career? Change your hair colour? Change your partner?
Take the bold leap of faith and step out of your comfort zone towards your dreams and you will find happiness. Perhaps not instantly, but eventually.
What are you waiting for? We only live once right?
Even if all fails, wouldn’t you like to say at the end of your life that you took giant leaps and bounds towards your dreams, instead of meeting the status quo and not make waves and silently living out your life because heaven forbid you do something crazy like live your dreams?
Not everyone will sell it all and move across the world to find happiness but what about the things that might make you happy? Let’s say you have been dreaming of planting a garden and learning how to grow your own food, or you have dreamt your whole life to learn how to cook, or you have always dreamed of learning a new language?
Our dreams are as wide and varied as we can imagine, and whatever they are, this is our life to live. Why else would we be given the ability to dream so vividly if not to go after them?