Everybody’s chasing something. Money. Cars. Fame. Glory. You name it. Just look around. You don’t even have to look too far. People are “hustling”, pushing through a tedious 9-5 or grinding for that cash any way they know how. Call it what you may, but the everyone has an end game. But what happens when you realize that you don’t know what it is? What happens when you can’t put greater meaning to what you do? Or worse, what if you realize that you’ve accidentally been chasing things you don’t care much about?
I would say that I know this all too well. My first job in 2011 was at a large automobile company. I was still in Uni and the pay was great. They offered free transport and most times, I would use their cabs to get home because I was working late. The job came with travel perks and per diems (highly unnecessary as they paid for everything imaginable) plus it also came with V.I.P access to exclusive events. To everyone, it looked like I was living the dream but I was unsettled. As expected, I left after some time. I kept asking myself, “Is this the rest of my life?” And while a number of arguments can arise from this conclusion to leave, what I can say is that the job was not a good fit for me with regard to where I wanted to be and who I wanted to be. At the time, I had no idea what that would be, but I was onto something.
Right from childhood, we’re taught to find and do our one thing. That our primary goals should be to get an education, get a good job and be financially stable, fall in love, get married, have a family and if your parents live with a bigger picture in mind, they’ll tell you to change the world. Which raises the big question: how?
I stumbled onto a guest post she did here and found her book, The Chase, which seeks to help you answer this question. Having worked several jobs such as waiting tables at Starbucks (having graduated with a Masters degree), launching a magazine and working as the chief editor and quitting a job so as to go on a 50 state tour of the United States, Allison’s book is the equivalent of a dream chaser’s handbook. It’s all sorts of real, the way a good book should feel. She begins by asking, “What would you do with your life if you didn’t have to worry about money?”
That’s a tough one. It almost sounds like permission to fantasize, as if the idea is far removed from reality. The fact remains, the more money you have, the better the quality of your experiences and choices. No question about that. Only problem is, many of us begin by chasing the money rather than pursuing a vision for our lives that will make a difference in the world and ultimately lead to success and financial stability.
Knowing all too well the struggle dream chasers face, Allison goes ahead to build a bridge between reality and the struggle of pursuing a dream that’s not yet paying the bills. She says:
“Some of the dreams we chase will come with a financial payoff. Some of them won’t. Some will ebb and flow in that area over time. But if our motivation to pursue our dream is directly attached to the money it brings, we will ride the roller-coaster — up and down, up and down — of that attachment over time. Some of the most important things we do in our lives will have nothing to do with money.”
– Allison Vesterfelt
The book also addresses other issues such as quitting one’s job to pursue one’s dreams or pursuing one’s dreams while employed. Poignantly approached, Allison strikes a healthy balance by speaking of the outcomes of both scenarios having employed both routes.
Not everyone can or should quit their job to chase their dreams, but everyone will have to quit something. Maybe for you it’s a bad habit, or excessive worry, or procrastination. Or, maybe, for you, it is about quitting your job. But quitting any of that won’t mean anything until you know what you’re chasing, and why.
– Allison Vesterfelt
My biggest take out from the book was that quitting a job to pursue your dreams won’t necessarily solve any immediate problems you might be facing at work.
“Michael E Gerber, the author of the best-selling book The E-Myth says, “The work we do is a reflection of who we are,” and I would argue this is true no matter what our day job happens to be. Different seasons bring different jobs, tasks, and responsibilities; and in each of those seasons, the work we do is a reflection of our character.
If we’re lazy at work (even at Starbucks) we’ll be lazy writers, parents, and business owners, because our laziness is not a reflection of something outside of us (our job), it points to something inside of us (our character). If we’re fair-weather workers in our part-time jobs, if we let the mood of the day rule our attitude toward the task at hand, we’ll be fair-weather chasers of our dream too. If we whine and complain about the work we have to do to pay the bills, we’ll whine and complain even when we get the opportunity to do the work we love, for ourselves.
So often we expect quitting to solve all our problems, but in my experience it’s just the opposite. Quitting my full-time job simply magnified the problems I’d had all along.”
– Allison Vesterfelt
The truth is, we all have responsibilities that will not go away whether we quit our jobs or if we stay in a job that we don’t like. And we can use these responsibilities as excuses to stay miserable or unfulfilled and not pursue what we know deep down in our hearts we should be doing or to count the cost to pursue our dreams and work at it no matter what it takes.
We’ll all have to overcome different obstacles on our journey and let go of different things in our process, but we’re all uniquely equipped for our specific chase. The resources we need, the strength we’re looking for, the courage we can’t imagine, the strategy we can’t conceptualize right now — it’s all around us, and even in us if we’ll open our eyes to it. But we can’t discover it until we begin the chase.
– Allison Vesterfelt
There’s so much I could talk about from the book like the wisdom she offers about the need for helpers and creators as we pursue our dreams, preparing for failure, making adjustments through the journey, how to handle obstacles, staying resolute about our decision and the need for us to trust so as to stay the course as we chase our dreams. I love her conclusion from her own experience of the same.
But what if I have the equation wrong? What if the outcome isn’t the reward, after all? What if the reward is the journey itself? What if the “reward” isn’t the objective I accomplish, but the person I become in the process? When I choose to believe this is true, it changes everything. The work is always worth it, no matter the outcome. The work is the reward. I am the reward. I can stop striving for my “reward”. I already have it.
– Allison Vesterfelt
*Sings* The journey, the process is often the reward. I strongly believe that with all of my heart. Sophia Amoruso said the same thing in her recent book #Girlboss. The sooner we appreciate the gift of becoming, the better and more enjoyable the journey of chasing our dreams becomes. After all, we can’t all succeed the same.
I hope you’re as blown away reading this as I was reading the book. Oh yeah! Did I mention that the book is FREE and only 57 pages? Score! If you would love to read more about her story and enjoy her wisdom on tap, you can download the book here and visit her website here.
There’s nothing much that I can add, quite honestly. Allison wrapped it all up in a few lines with a cute little bow that was both soft and encouraging but also an equal measure of a heavy dose of reality. That’s my kind of book. One where someone talks about going through it. One that’s vulnerable and lets you in on the real stuff, the deep stuff.
I hope you get a chance to download and read the book. If you do, let me know how you liked it, okay? I leave you now with a quote that I pray will stir you up to greater things within you.
Looking back now, I realize how passive it was for me to think that some “big” moment was going to fall into my lap and determine the rest of my career. Life is full of serendipity, and sometimes it aids us along the way, but for the most part, chasing what we want is more active than waiting for some “big” opportunity to change our whole life. I love the way Thomas Edison puts it: “We often miss opportunity because it’s dressed in overalls and looks like work.” — Thomas Edison
— Allison Vesterfelt
That’s all from me folks!