All of us are chasing something. The problem is, most of us just don’t know what it is.
This was me for the first twenty-five years of my life, working hard, following the “rules” of adult life I thought I was supposed to follow — go to school, get a job, buy a house, get married — but never stopping to think about what I was after. I was chasing money, stability and success without even realizing I was chasing them.
When I brought the decision into my conscious mind, I realized why I was so frustrated and burnt out all the time. I didn’t want to chase those things. They weren’t worth it to me. They weren’t what I actually wanted.
I wanted to chase something different.
It wasn’t until someone asked me the question, point-blank, “What would you do with your life if you could do anything you wanted?” that I started to realize how off-track I had gotten. It wasn’t until I shed the distractions of money, expectations of friends and family, and unfair expectations I had placed on myself, that I was able to pinpoint what I really wanted to chase.
It just took me a long time.
I wonder if that is you, too. I wonder if you’ve ever lain awake in bed at night, like I did, asking yourself, what am I chasing? What really matters to me? I wonder if you, like me, are accidentally chasing things you don‘t care much about.
I wonder if you’ve laid your whole life down for these things, almost by accident, because you didn’t realize what was motivating your decisions. And I wonder if you feel, like I did when I finally realized what I really wanted, when I finally answer the question my friend asked, that it might not be worth it.
I wonder if you feel less than satisfied.
As for me, I finished graduate school, got a full-time job and started looking to buy a house before I finally made the decision something had to change. For me, that meant quitting my job, moving out of my apartment, and going on a year-long, 50-state road trip to chase my dream of writing a book. Since then I’ve gotten (and quit) two other part-time jobs to chase that same vision.
But that was just my dream, and my journey. Not yours.
Your chase will look different than mine. After all, you’re chasing something different. The path you take to get there will inevitably be different. But there is one thing your journey and mine will have in common.
We will have to give up some things.
There’s so much talk about quitting jobs these days, after awhile you start to think there’s no way you can go after a dream unless you give up your 9-5. But if I’ve learned one thing from talking to friends, and from my own experience chasing my dream, it is that quitting your full time job is not always right for every person, in every season. In fact, for some people it would be downright wrong.
Still, everyone will have to give up something to chase their dream. It might be a job, it might be something different. We can’t be sure what it is until we know what we’re chasing, and what is getting in our way.
This is not an ooey-gooey, hyper-inspirational “you can be anything you want to be” approach to living. In fact, just the opposite. I believe that knowing what you really want, and being willing to give up everything else in order to get it, is the most realistic, down-to-earth approach we can take to creating a life full of meaning and joy.
It starts with the belief that everyone is chasing something, moves to the assumption that your chase will require sacrifice, and ends with a decision that ultimately you must make for yourself:
What will you have to give up to chase what you ultimately want?
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.
So, what are you chasing?