Wednesday, November 19, 2014

What is your dream?

I recently attended a conference and got a question that was a pleasant surprise from the usual networking repertoire. Over casual lunch introductions, instead of asking me what I did for a living, I was asked “What is my dream?” Harold and I had never met before and the question initially threw me for a loop but after thinking about it I answered happily. My response led to a 30 minute conversation I will never forget. 

Harold and I spoke about ambitions, dreams, goals and what gets in our way. He reminded me that it is very easy to add up the reasons why we shouldn't do something but when you actually start to believe in yourself by simply charting out the how it can be done, the process can be reassuring and encouraging. 

Harold and his wife decided to quit their jobs in their forties and take their toddlers on an around the world trip a few years back. His friends, family and neighbors thought he was crazy and questioned their decision every step of the way. Once the family of four returned from their trip, the skeptics were now confused, envious and sometimes even encouraged by the journey. They were initially unsupportive because they idea challenged the conventions around which they've built their own lives; learning about Harold's journey pushed them to get out of their comfort zone.

He reminded me that you need to find the people that are motivating and supportive of innovative ideas. Once you do, you will flourish. 

I left our conversation reminded of my experiences pre and post Cambodia.   Some of my friends and family did not know how to process my decision, and encouraged me to make the safest choice. Some think it was a phase and do not quite understand why I did it, but they also wont ask why.  When I saw Harold again at the end of the day, I gave him a big hug because our conversation reminded me to be proud of my decisions and excited for my future.

The next day I heard the story of Robin Davidson and her solo journey in Australia, from Alice Springs to the Indian Ocean in 1977. The pictures and anecdotes left me speechless, teary and amazed. Everyone told her she was crazy, would die, would never make it and was wasting her time. She document her journey in a book named “Tracks” and I can’t wait to read it.  Just the snippet I read made me want to fly to Australia to meet her and hear her stories.

In case you were wondering, my response to Harold’s question was “to open a non-profit in South Asia that addresses the cultural challenges related sexual assault” and “to visit a 100 countries in my lifetime."

It is so easy to get immersed in our day to day life that we go from task to task without even thinking about why we do what we do. Passion allows us to keep going while maintaining a positive outlook. Doing things we love is meaningful and rewarding. But we have to have dreams to aspire to, to motivate us and most ultimately to be truly content with the mark we leave on the world. 

If you don't like something, change it. If you can't change it, change your attitude- Maya Angelou

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