The Life of a Dreamaholic

Two years ago, my roommate told me something along the lines of “I really was Jamaican because of how much I worked.” At the time, I was not aware of the common stereotype about Jamaicans having more than one job. The adults in my life were always working on multiple projects and careers. I witnessed them raise kids, pastor a church, provide therapy, lead in school board and parent advisory board meetings, start several businesses of their own; I mean, the list could go on. I felt like my parents did everything. I learned how to work from them. They learned how to work from their parents. Consequently, they were all born in Jamaica. But in my opinion, their work effort had nothing to do with their culture but more with their dreams.

After my roommate’s words, the more people I met, the more I received similar comments, which led me to a moment of self-reflection. Was I a workaholic? Did I put on as many hats as people said I did? In my opinion, everything boiled down to one clear fact.

I was doing everything I wanted to do.

When I was younger, I had a career path-goal. I would go to law school, become a lawyer, then a judge. After I would run for Senate and then run for President. That was the primary goal. But in the meantime, I wanted to get into acting. Every child’s dream. See I didn’t just want to be President. I wanted to experience being everything I listed in my career path.

Fast forward to my last year of undergrad. My major was legal studies, and I had just realized that I didn’t want to be a lawyer, or judge, or President. Being a senator was still on the table. I had been seriously writing for the last ten years and my goals no longer directly aligned with a lifetime career in the legal field. Instead, I wanted a career that consisted of all of my developed passions. There was no actual position or name for a career like this, but I figured I could craft one.

Before deciding on an area of study for grad school, I created a five-page plan detailing my career and business goals. I wouldn’t have a business, I would have enterprises, and much like my younger self, the positions and titles I would operate in would be numerous. From marketer and leadership consultant to author, scriptwriter, songwriter, playwright, poet, actress, and community organization director, I was determined to work in any capacity that I wanted at any point in time.

These were my passions. They weren’t work; they were work. It wasn’t something to be trivialized as a job, and it wasn’t something that was just a placeholder until I could do what I wanted. I think people get stuck in a place of “I’m just doing this, this being something that they don’t actually like doing, until…” But most times “until” doesn’t happen.

“I’m just working here until I can pursue my dreams.”

“I’m just working until I can pursue my music career, or open a beauty salon, or a mechanic shop, or run for city office.”

But the work that they’re doing is burning them out and not contributing to their goals. Whenever we decide to invest our time IN something, the question we need to ask, the question I ask myself, is how does this contribute to my long-term goals, and does it take time away from me focusing on those goals?

I don’t just want to work to pay bills, though bills play an essential part. But the work we do should be rewarding; it shouldn’t leave us unable to spend time with family and friends. It shouldn’t leave us with unfulfilled and broken dreams unless your dreams were about taking over the world or something.

The work we do should always contribute to an outcome related to our passions. Even more so, your work should not require you to forego your dreams. Sometimes your dream is about becoming a huge corporate boss because you can lead people the way you’ve always wanted to be led. Then it changes to making sure your child has the best life possible. As long as the work we do is related to that dream, as long as it contributes to the success of that dream, is it truly work, or is it simply living?

My five-page career plan has changed a lot in the last few years. While certain things are still the same, I’ve altered how I’ve gone about fulfilling that plan and added a couple of exciting new goals along the way that coincide with passions I’ve recently developed. I’m not offended when people comment on how much I work, but I am insistent on them seeing that I don’t work for work’s sake. Neither do I work just for the money; the money helps a lot, though.

Whether you have one dream or ten dreams, your work should only contribute to those dreams. It’s not about working a lot; it’s about living an entire life as you see fit. It’s not always easy to work in a way that contributes to your dreams, and there are risks you take in the process. But it’s worth it.

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